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Entrepreneur's Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Launch and Grow Your New Business

Entrepreneur's Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Launch and Grow Your New Business

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Entrepreneur's Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Launch and Grow Your New Business

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368 pages
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Nov 23, 2004


The New Manager's Guide and Mentor. The Harvard Business Essentials series provides comprehensive advice, personal coaching, background information, and guidance on the most relevant topics in business. Drawing on rich content from Harvard Business School Publishing and other sources, these concise guides are carefully crafted to provide a highly practical resource for readers with all levels of experience and will prove especially valuable for the new manager. To assure quality and accuracy, a specialized content adviser from a world-class business school closely reviews each volume. Whether you are a new manager seeking to expand your skills or a seasoned professional looking to broaden your knowledge base, these solution-oriented books put reliable answers at your fingertips.
Nov 23, 2004

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Entrepreneur's Toolkit - Harvard Business School Press



Harvard Business Essentials

The New Manager’s Guide and Mentor

The Harvard Business Essentials series is designed to provide comprehensive advice, personal coaching, background information, and guidance on the most relevant topics in business. Drawing on rich content from Harvard Business School Publishing and other sources, these concise guides are carefully crafted to provide a highly practical resource for readers with all levels of experience, and will prove especially valuable for the new manager. To ensure quality and accuracy, each volume is closely reviewed by a specialized content adviser from a world-class business school. Whether you are a new manager seeking to expand your skills or a seasoned professional looking to broaden your knowledge base, these solution-oriented books put reliable answers at your fingertips.

Other books in the series:

Finance for Managers

Hiring and Keeping the Best People

Managing Change and Transition


Business Communication

Managing Projects Large and Small

Manager’s Toolkit

Crisis Management

Coaching and Mentoring



Tools and Techniques to Launch and

Grow Your New Business

Harvard Business School Press | Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright 2005 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

09 08 07 06 05      5 4 3 2 1

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu, or mailed to Permissions, Harvard Business School Publishing, 60 Harvard Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02163.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Harvard business essentials: entrepreneur's toolkit : tools and techniques to launch and grow your new business.

p. cm.—(The Harvard business essentials series)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 1-59139-436-8

1. New business enterprises. I. Harvard Business School. II. Series.

HD62.5.H37378 2004



The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives Z39.48-1992.




Do You Have the Right Stuff to Start a Business?

The Makings of an Entrepreneur


It May Be Right for You

Summing Up

2Finding and Evaluating the Opportunity

Is It Real and Large Enough?

Characteristics of an Opportunity

Where to Look for Opportunities

From Identification to Evaluation

Summing Up

3Organizing the Enterprise

Which Form Is Best for You?

Sole Proprietorship


C Corporations

S Corporations

The Limited Liability Company

Which Form Makes Sense for You?

Summing Up

4Building a Business Model and Strategy

How They Work Together

Your Business Model


Summing Up

5Writing a Business Plan

The Basics

The Purposes of a Business Plan

Suggested Format


Final Thoughts

Summing Up

6Financing the Business

Where’s the Money?

A Life-Cycle View of Financing

Life-Cycle Financing of the Entrepreneurial Company

Financing Growth at eBay

Other Forms of External Financing

Matching Assets and Financing

Summing Up

7Angels and Venture Capitalists

For Serious Outside Equity

Business Angels

Venture Capitalists

Making a Presentation

A Caveat on Taking VC Capital

Summing Up

8Going Public

Adventures in the Capital Markets

Pros and Cons of Going Public

The Makings of an IPO Candidate

The Role of the Investment Bank

The IPO Process in a Nutshell

Alternatives to an IPO

Summing Up

9Enterprise Growth

The Challenge to Management

The Impact of Growth

Sustaining Growth

The Management Challenge

Is It Time to Change the Guard?

Summing Up

10Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive

The Ultimate Challenge of Success

Three Challenges

What Entrepreneurial Leaders Must Do

Summing Up

11Harvest Time

Reaping What You’ve Sown

Why Entrepreneurs Cash Out

Harvesting Mechanisms

What’s It Worth?

Summing Up

Appendix A: Understanding Finanicial Statements

Appendix B: Breakeven Analysis

Appendix C: Valuation Concepts

Appendix D: Online Help When You Need It

Appendix E: Rule 144



For Further Reading


About the Subject Adviser

About the Writer




‘‘I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em. That is how George Washington Plunkitt, a member of New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall political machine, summarized his lucrative career of honest graft." Plunkitt was a scoundrel and a crook, and yet his pithy statement provides us with a good working definition of an entrepreneur: a person who identifies an opportunity and pursues it. A century later, William Bygrave, a scholar and practitioner of the entrepreneurial arts, extended this definition, describing an entrepreneur as someone who not only perceives an opportunity but also creates an organization to pursue it.¹

That last part of Bygrave’s definition is essential. Opportunities as we generally understand them are most effectively addressed through organizations formed by entrepreneurs. Thomas Edison, for example, recognized the business opportunity in urban electric illumination. Most people know that he pursued it through tireless laboratory experiments that eventually produced a workable incandescent light bulb. But invention was only part of Edison’s genius. He also formed a company in which he brought together the human and financial resources needed to implement his vision of commercial and residential lighting. That company was the forerunner of the General Electric Company, one of today’s largest and most powerful enterprises.

We observe the same formula repeatedly: recognizing opportunity and addressing it through an organization. For example, in 1983, Howard Schultz, manager of retail operations for a small Seattle coffee vendor called Starbucks, recognized such an opportunity while vacationing in Europe. He was impressed by the popularity of espresso bistros of Milan and believed that Americans would appreciate a similar café ambiance and a high-quality product. Upon returning, Schultz convinced his employer to test the espresso bar concept on its home turf. The success of the Seattle experiment encouraged Schultz to form his own organization, Il Giornale, in 1985. Within two years, Il Giornale acquired Starbucks, adopted its name, and, with the capital of private investors, began its pursuit of coffee aficionados. By 2003, Starbucks had more than 7,200 retail outlets and reported revenues in excess of $4 billion.

A complete definition of the entrepreneur must also recognize one other factor: risk. In the financial world, risk contains the possibility of both gain and loss. The entrepreneur puts skin in the game—usually in the form of time and personal savings. If the venture goes badly, his or her time and hard-earned savings are lost. But if things go well, the entrepreneur can reap a sizable profit.

Economic history is filled with stories like those of Edison and Schultz. One is the story of Dan Bricklin, inventor of the now ubiquitous electronic spreadsheet (VisiCalc) and founder of Software Arts, Inc. Rollin King and Herb Kelleher saw an opportunity in short-haul, low-cost air travel and turned that concept into South-west Airlines, the most profitable U.S. air carrier. And, of course, Bill Gates was the young programming geek who grabbed onto the coattails of the burgeoning microcomputing phenomenon and rode them to a huge bonanza.

For every entrepreneur recounted in the history books and the popular press, thousands of others go unrecognized because they are either small or serve a limited geographical area: a chain of ten car wash facilities; a five-employee company that installs and repairs home office and small-business computer systems; a married couple that owns and operates two small restaurants and a catering service. These unsung entrepreneurs are fundamentally no different from their more glorified counterparts. At bottom, all of them do the same thing. They recognize a commercial opportunity and pursue it through an organization, their own managerial or technical talents, and some combination of human and financial capital, as described in figure 1-1. And they bear the risks of success or failure. In a nutshell, that is what Thomas Edison did. It is what Howard Schultz and Bill Gates did—and it is what every enterprising business owner in your community has done. And you will have to do the same if you aspire to be a successful entrepreneur.

Some scholars differentiate entrepreneurial firms from what they call lifestyle enterprises.A lifestyle enterprise is a business venture with modest revenue and growth expectations. The owner is simply looking for a venture that will satisfy the financial needs of his or her family. It might be a retail store, a law firm, a chicken farm, or a shop that fixes home appliances. There is no expectation of creating a national franchise of the business or of selling it after five years to one of the Fortune 500 companies for a huge windfall. No venture capitalists will come calling. One author, William E. Wetzel Jr., has described lifestyle enterprises as ventures with five-year revenue projections of less than $10 million. In his opinion, more than 90 percent of all start-ups are lifestyle ventures.²

But even with small expectations, the founder of a lifestyle business nevertheless fits our definition of an entrepreneur in that the founder identifies an opportunity, creates an organization and marshals resources to pursue it, and bears the risk. Thus, the lifestyle entrepreneur will find applications for most of the materials covered in this book.


The Entrepreneurial Process

The Role of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs play an important role in every free-market society. As described by economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s, entrepreneurs act as a force for creative destruction, sweeping away established technologies, products, and ways of doing things and replacing them with others that the marketplace as a whole sees as representing greater value. In this sense entrepreneurs are agents of change and, hopefully, progress. Thus, entrepreneurs displaced home kerosene lamps with brighter and cleaner-burning gas in the mid-to late 1800s. Those gas lamps, in turn, were displaced by Edison’s incandescent electric light system, which provided better performance and greater safety. Fluorescent lighting came along years later, displacing many incandescent applications.

We see this pattern repeated in virtually every industry. Entrepreneurs invent or commercialize new technologies that displace the old. Photocopying, the personal computer, and new and improved drug therapies are all products of enterprising entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs also introduce products and services that deliver something entirely new: the electronic calculator, next-day package delivery, the World Wide Web, aircraft simulation software, oral contraceptives, angioplasty to open narrow heart arteries, and laser surgery to bring eyesight to near 20/20.

Entrepreneurs have given us even mundanely useful things that our parents or grandparents would not have imagined: personal digital assistants (à la the Palm Pilot), contact lenses, one-hour photo processing, milk in aseptic packaging that requires no refrigeration, online auctions that bring together buyers and sellers from every part of the world, and on and on.

It is important to acknowledge that entrepreneurs do more than just think of new concepts and recognize their commercial opportunities. They take the next step: forming enterprises and marshaling resources to address them. This step separates the entrepreneur from the inventor and delivers value and choice to society. This step is almost always risky because success in not preordained.

Entrepreneurs generally make positive contributions to society. They find and exploit opportunities to provide goods and services that were previously unavailable or in limited supply. Henry Ford’s early enterprise, for example, brought the automobile, once a play-thing for the wealthy, within reach of the typical household. Entrepreneurs also find and exploit ways of providing higher-quality goods and services at lower prices. These contributions make free-market societies wealthy and dynamic, and, for most people, they make life much more interesting. They sweep away stagnant industries and replace them with growing ones that generate new employment opportunities, often at much higher wages.

Anyone who doubts the benefits of entrepreneurial contributions, should compare the experiences of the United States and the former Soviet Union in the post-World War II period. Those two nations had populations of roughly equal size. Both had strong central governments, substantial natural resources, and high levels of literacy and technical know-how. Yet in the fifty-year period following the war, the United States outpaced its rival on almost every front: food production, manufacturing, military might, housing, technical advancements, general health and longevity, per capita income, and the availability, quality, and variety of goods and services. In large measure, the Soviet Union’s failures can be attributed to its centrally planned economy and its hostility to private property, both of which suppressed incentives to invent and to pursue commercial opportunities. In contrast, the American economy was unplanned. Its culture honored and supported entrepreneurs. Its laws safeguarded property, including intellectual property, and took some of the sting out of failure through bankruptcy provisions. Its unrestricted flows of capital allowed funds to move to enterprises with the most attractive risk/reward characteristics. While the Soviets suppressed the energy and acquisitiveness of individuals who had new ideas, the American system encouraged and glorified them. In the end, many of the economic failures of the Soviet Union and the successes of its rival can be attributed to their different treatment of entrepreneurs.

What’s Ahead

This book takes a linear approach to the topics that concern entrepreneurs, from the initial question (Am I the type of person who should start a business?) to the last issue that a successful business owner needs to consider (How can I cash out of the business I’ve built?). That linear approach may not correspond to the facts of life for every entrepreneurial venture, but it is a practical way to organize this book.

Chapter 1 describes the self-diagnosis that every prospective entrepreneur should undertake. Are you the right type of person to start up and operate a business? This chapter will help you answer that important question.

The first steps in the entrepreneurial process are to identify and evaluate business opportunities. Chapter 2 offers five characteristics you should look for in a business opportunity, the situations in which you are most likely to find them, and a process for evaluating their potential.

Assuming that you’ve found a powerful opportunity and are determined to pursue it, you must answer this question: Should my business be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or something else? Chapter 3 explains the various legal forms of business organization used in the United States, assesses their pros and cons, and explains how you can determine which is best for your venture.

Business model and business strategy are two terms that are tossed around freely, often without precision. What is a business model? What is a business strategy? Chapter 4 uses two powerful examples to describe how the business model explains the way key components of the enterprise work together to make money. It also shows how strategy must be designed to differentiate the entity and confer it with a competitive advantage. Finally, it offers a five-step process for formulating strategy and aligning business activities with it.

Chapter 5 gets you started on writing a plan for your business. A business plan explains the opportunity, identifies the market to be served, and provides details about how the entrepreneurial organization plans to pursue it. It also describes the unique qualifications that the management team brings to the effort, lists the resources required for success, and provides a forecast of results over a reasonable time horizon. This chapter tells you why a business plan is necessary, gives you a format for organizing one, and offers tips for developing each section in the format. It also directs you to the Harvard Business Essentials series Web site, www.elearning.hbsp.org/businesstools. That site features a free, downloadable spreadsheet template you can use to develop pro forma financial statements for your business plan. While you’re at the site, check out the other download materials— templates, checklists, and other tools—associated with other books in the series.

Chapter 6 concentrates on the financing requirements that businesses typically encounter in the various phases of their life cycles, from start-up to maturity. It also provides an overview of the sources you can turn to in securing financing during these phases. Two types of business—lifestyle and entrepreneurial—are used to illustrate the general course of financing from start-up through expansion.

To continue the discussion of financing, Chapter 7 addresses the fact that growing firms must obtain external capital. Entrepreneurs can bootstrap early development from personal sources, friends, and relatives, but external infusions of capital are usually necessary if they want to move to a higher level. This chapter introduces two sources of capital: business angels and venture capitalists. It describes these individuals, explains what attracts them, and discusses how you can connect with them.

At some point, growing firms with exceptional revenue potential seek and obtain financing through an initial public offering (IPO) of their shares to individual investors and institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual funds. That rare event results in a significant exchange of paper ownership shares for the hard cash the firm needs for stability and expansion. Chapter 8 describes what it takes to be an IPO candidate, the pros and cons of going public, the role of investment bankers, and eight steps for doing a deal. Because only an extremely small percentage of businesses will obtain external capital from an IPO, we also present an alternative arrangement: the private placement.

Chapter 9 is about the managerial challenge of enterprise growth. Entrepreneurs seek growth, often without thinking about how they will handle it, how they will keep it going, or whether they are up to the job. This chapter addresses the challenges of growth, with emphasis on how the role of the entrepreneur must change as the business expands. It highlights three key issues in sustaining growth, defines the various modes of management triggered by growth, and outlines options for changing the guard as the company becomes larger and more complex.

Paradoxically, success is sometimes the entrepreneurial company’s greatest enemy; hierarchy, bureaucracy, and complacency are success’s frequent companions. The danger of losing the entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to innovate should be a concern of every successful business founder. Chapter 10 explains why many companies lose their spark as they succeed and grow larger, and it suggests seven things that leaders can do to prevent it.

Chapter 11 is about harvesting your investment in a private business. Founders—and particularly the business angels and venture capitalists who support them—look forward to the day when they can turn their paper ownership into real money. This chapter describes the motivations that lead to harvesting, the primary mechanisms for doing so, and the methods used to answer the all-important question, What is this business worth?

Aids for the Entrepreneur

The back of this book contains material you may find very useful. The first is a series of appendixes. Appendix A is a primer on financial statements. If you haven’t studied accounting or haven’t thought about it for a long time, this will bring you up to speed. Appendix B explains details of breakeven analysis not covered in the book. Appendix C provides an overview of the methods used to determine the value of business enterprises. It won’t make you a master of that very technical and specialized subject, but it will teach you enough that you can deal intelligently with valuation experts.

The next appendix, D, is a list of online sites you might want to surf to in gathering information about the ins and outs of business start-up and ownership. Finally, appendix E is taken directly from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission site. It explains Rule 144 on the sale of restricted and control stock. Few readers will ever need to understand Rule 144, but those who do may find this useful reading.

The appendixes are followed by a glossary of terms. Whenever you see an italicized term, that’s your tip that its definition is contained in the glossary.

Next is a section titled For Further Reading. There you’ll find annotated references to recent books and articles—many of them classics—that provide much more material or unique insights into the topics covered in these chapters. If you’d like to learn more about any of the material we’ve included in the book, these references will help you.

Good luck with your entrepreneurial venture.


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