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the idea compass

A fearless, quick-start guide to help your ideas venture out into the world.

For Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Creative Professionals. By The Innovation Team at Advanta Corp.
table of contents :::

foreword pg. 2

Discovering It pg. 4
What is “It”?
The Growth of an Idea
Ideas vs. Opportunities
From Opportunity to Beyond

building It pg. 6
Step 1 – The Vision
Step 2 – The Plan
Step 3 – The Resources
Step 4 – Full Throttle Execution

blobbing It pg. 6
The Evolution of an Idea
The Blob Approach
Blob Stories

running with It pg. 6

Raising Money
Revisit same principles as “getting started”
Other Things You Should Know

bonus tips and resources pg. 6

Local Resources
Books and Magazines
pg. 3

Foreword, by Ami Kassar, CIO at Advanta Corp.

Innovations come in all shapes and sizes. Some succeed, some fail. Some are global in scope,
others are smaller and community-focused. Whether an innovation lasts for generations or just a
season, they all have the potential to make a big impact.

But the truth is, innovations wouldn’t exist without the ideas that sparked them. At Advanta, we
strive to provide meaningful tools for innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals to
develop their ideas and bring them to life.

In 1951, our business grew from Jack Alter’s idea to provide individual, needs-based loans to fellow
teachers. The idea grew and grew and today Advanta is a publicly traded company that (through
Advanta Bank Corp.) provides financial services to small businesses. We’ll never forget what it’s like
to start out with just an idea and a dream.

The Innovation Team at Advanta is a multi-disciplinary force of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers
committed to finding new ways to help small business owners and entrepreneurs. We purposefully
seek out the impractical and improbable in order to push the boundaries within the company and
the financial industry overall. A few of our recent initiatives include:

Ideablob.com  An online community initiative designed to provide entrepreneurs with business
advice, marketing tools and the chance to win $10,000.

KivaB4B A project to bring financial assistance to small business owners in developing

countries with Kiva.org. As a KivaB4B cardmember, every single dollar you send to
Kiva will be matchedby Advanta (Up to $200 per card per month).

Bizequity Bizequity empowers small business owners with tools and information to help
determine the estimated value of their business.

We hope this simple guide helps and inspires you to cultivate and grow your ideas, Good luck!.

Ami Kassar, CIO

Advanta Corp.

IDEABLOB.COM® CONTEST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Contest began on 9/24/07 at
12:00:00 am CT and ends on 3/31/09 at 11:59:59 pm CT. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states and D.C. who are of the legal age of majority
in their state of residence at the time of entry. Void where prohibited. Official Rules available online at www.ideablob.com. Sponsor: Advanta Bank
Corp., PO Box 30715, Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0715.
Discovering It ::: pg. 4

What is “It”? “It” is that idea that woke you in the middle of the night or snuck up on you
at the grocery store. Maybe you’ve spent months trying to determine exactly What are your Top 5
what “it” is going to look like or do. Or how “it” may change history or solve a big ideas (in order)?
problem. Deep down you know “it” has big potential. Don’t get discouraged if
people laugh at “it” – imagine what they thought about electricity when it was
just an idea. 3.

5 Moments When 1. A solo cross-country road trip.

Ideas are Likely 2. Meeting with a friend or business partner over triple-espressos.
to Strike 3. Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
4. People watching and observing everyday events.
5. Q uestioning why things are the way they are and coming
up with better solutions.

Is there a way to conjure up ideas for new innovations? Questions help.

Famous Questions 1. Why am I spending $1,000 per month on my car? Idea: Zip Car
That Innovators Ask 2. Why isn’t there a fast food joint with fresh sandwiches? Idea: Subway
Themselves (Maybe 3. Isn’t there a better way to transport my music? Idea: iPod
In The Shower) 4. Why is filing taxes so complicated? Idea: Quickbooks
5. How can I make cooking more efficient? Idea: Pampered Chef
6. How can we share our wealth with those in need? Idea: Tom’s Shoes
7. How could that accident have been prevented? Idea: Traffic Light
8. Why can’t a coffee shop be more than a coffee shop? Idea: Starbucks

Not all ideas lead to big news and major breakthroughs. In fact, the majority
of value that is created in the U.S. today is by those who work for themselves.
pg. 5

The Growth Is your idea an opportunity? It’s important to seriously assess the
of an idea realistic success of developing your idea. Although it’s hard to accept, What are five factors
many ideas may not be worth pursuing. that could make my
venture succeed?
Famous bad ideas:
1.Mechanical Bull Riding Karaoke 1.
2. Endangered Species Lunch Buffet 2.
3. Florida Snow Removal Inc. 4.
4. Cow Tipping Service 5.
5. Baby Nunchaks
6. Insert your bad idea here What are five factors that
could make my venture fail?
So, how do you start assessing the opportunity? 1.
From “The Entrepreneurial Mind” Blog by Dr. Jeff Cornwall 2.
1. I s there a MARKET? Examine the size of the market to make certain 4.
that you only need a small portion of the market as customers to 5.
succeed. Make sure that they are interested in, and more importantly
want and need your product or service. You don’t have time or money
as an entrepreneur to educate them. Begin to get an idea of how much
they will be willing to pay. Too many times this becomes a last minute
guess by the entrepreneur.

2. I s there a MARGIN? Figure out the basic economics of the business.

How much will the product or service sell for and how much will it
cost to produce the product or offer the service? At this stage you
should really look for opportunities that offer at least a 50% margin.
Generally, when all is said and done this will typically result in actual
profits of about 15-20% once the business plan is developed and all of
the true costs are determined.

3. I s this for ME? There are many periods during the growth of the
business when the entrepreneur needs a true passion to carry them
pg. 6

On the Web
through. This is not just a simple financial investment. It becomes much
more personal and emotional than that. Many entrepreneurs tell us that • Ideas vs. Opportunities
the profit part of the business opportunity is only one of many reasons for • 105 Business Ideas
launching their businesses. It also helps to build a business that takes • T he Top 25 Home-Based
advantage of your experiences, knowledge, and skills. Business Ideas

“Set Them Free!” Using ideablob to Grow Your Ideas

Ideablob.com is a tool to help you free ideas from your own head and get
exposure and advice from diverse communities that extend far beyond friends
and family. You can think of it as free market research. People do really want
to help you. Oh, and by the way, by posting your idea on ideablob.com, you not
only are forced to take your idea a bit more seriously, you also have a chance
at winning the monthly $10,000 prize. Just another way to leapfrog your idea
into its next stage.

From Opportunity Small business owners are constantly evaluating and enhancing their
to beyond business to better serve their community and fulfill their goals. There is no
finish line in business, only continuing growth and improvement. Here are a
few words of wisdom for focusing your mind and your business:

Idea: Convertible Ankle Boot/Heels on ideablob.com

Advice from DianeMacEachern, ideablob Guest Advisor

This sounds like it makes sense, but does it? Before you create a website
and commission a manufacturer, don’t you think you should create some
prototypes to see if the idea is a good one? I can’t help but wonder how stable
the attachable heels are; I’d hate to be up two inches and have the heel fall
off. I think your next step needs to be to make several prototypes and let real
women try them out for a month or so.
BLOBBING It ::: pg. 7

On the Web
The Blob Approach It’s essential to understand that your concept may take many forms before and
while you are starting up. As you develop an idea, and develop a new venture, •H  ow Bootstrap Entrepreneurs
you’ll need to create and apply new approaches each step of the way. Your Adapt to Change
idea for a hot dog stand on the beach might become an ice cream stand when • 7 Ways Entrepreneurs
you find that people would rather feed that sweet tooth on a hot day. You may Are Artists
find that you can give free ice cream to those who come for your new sun- • Continue To Be Persistent
screen spray service. Before you know it, you’re bottling your own organic
sunscreen and hitting the big market.

1. F
 reshman Orientation Software that Integrates with Myspace/Facebook
by Tom Krieglstein, ideablob October 2007 winner

I started my 1st company in college. I used all the profits to pay for 2yr post
college living expenses & the rest I spent traveling Europe & Asia for 8mo w/
Annie (my fiancée). Now I’m back in the saddle with my next project, starting
Swift Kick, an education company focused on increasing the level of engage-
ment on campuses through the use of trainings and technologies. Our latest
product is Red Rover, which is an online orientation tool that integrates into
Facebook. Red Rover was actually the very first Ideablob winner.

Since winning the $10,000 we’ve officially launched the beta version of Red
Rover for schools, and are currently testing it at 30 schools before deploy-
ing nation wide. After we have “proof of concept” with 10,000 active users,


Illustrate how your idea has evolved over time.

pg. 8

we will work towards “proof of business” by implementing our first paid

feature into the software. For students, we hope to be catalysts for their
personal growth. For schools, we hope to increase engagement, which
leads to higher retention rates, which leads to higher graduation rates.

2. E
 xpand My Global Tech Company
by Andy Tabar, ideablob Finalist

My tech business has evolved since the early days when I founded it as a
teenager. From a digital file sharing service, to a web hosting company, to
a global talent network, I have applied many business models to find one
that is best for the market and myself as an entrepreneur. Growth of my
ventures was at the top of my list, so I would do things like hire expert soft-
ware developers in India. I found that many of the growth techniques I was
using had a larger need beyond just my own company. So, I started offering
the same services, like connecting U.S. companies with experts in India.
The shape of my blob went from one that was focused on internal value, to
one that was focused on sharing value with the masses. ideablob enabled
me to acquire more advice, build awareness, and show the business com-
munity that my business is actively “blobbing.”
building It ::: pg. 9

Step 1 – The Vision Great ideas begin with a vision to satisfy a need and fill a gap where some-
thing is lacking in your community, whether that in your hometown or beyond.
However, without a coherent vision, it’s hard to maintain commitment and


Print this page to record your vision. Reference back to it regularly.

short term vision long term vision

pg. 10

Step 2 – The Planning After clearly describing your vision and goal, a second step is to create
a business plan to guide the direction of your small business. Planning
requires thoughtful analysis and consideration of your market, your
opportunities, and your challenges. Although you may not need a formal
business plan, the process helps you take the initiative and focus your
time, money, and energy.

Key questions to consider in your business plan:

1. How does this mission add value to my life and
to the community it serves?
2. What is the opportunity and how big is it? What will we take home
at the end of the day?
3. What resources do I already have? (e.g., This includes experience, money,
opportunities, and physical resources like people, locations, and products.
4. What are the expectations from my stakeholders?
5. What are the benchmarks I need to reach and when do I need
to reach them in order to maintain a viable business?
6. What are my marketing strategies and opportunities?
(Business Planning Resource at Advanta.com)

Idea: Earth Friendly School Supplies

Advice from JeffreyHollender, ideablob Guest Advisor

 his is a very interesting idea. You’ll want to make sure you create a solid
sales model (beyond trade shows) for reaching out to the school systems
that will buy your products. You should talk to distributors in the space to
learn about the risks and opportunities your business will face. They will
be the most knowledgeable about the market, and can guide you. I would
also encourage you to open up the product/development process to your
customers (school systems and even the kids). Use your website to solicit
ideas for what your customers need and desire in eco-friendly school
supplies. By getting your customers to help design your products, you’ll
increase the odds that they’ll buy your products.
pg. 11


Outsmarting Your Competition: A key component to planning is how you will be one step ahead of your com-
petition. Use the comparison chart below to help identify the strengths of your organization as well as those
of three primary competitors.

Competitor #1 Competitor #2 Competitor #3

My Competitive
pg. 12

Idea: Free Online Web Shops
Advice from Crowne, ideablob Guest Advisor Who are the top three
people who will be the
 etworking is the beginning. I would also add that you need to determine
N largest influences of your
who to network to. This is an easy exercise to help you figure out your success? What are their
target market, their age group, and what these people like to do. Step strengths?
inside your ideal client’s life for a day and write down who that person is.
Then go out and find them. Network until it hurts. The best advice I have 2.
ever been given on business is to get a plan and work, work, work. 3.

Beyond complementary skills alone, ask yourself why and how you and
your partners are likely to communicate effectively on strategies over time.

The Money
 he need for raising external capital for a business is dependent on
the business model, the growth plan, and most importantly, the core
values that are set in place by the entrepreneur. One business may
have investors knocking on the door, but the entrepreneur decides
that she would like to maintain 100% control and ownership. Using
only the resources that are personally available to you to achieve the
same outcome is called bootstrapping. In fact, many bootstrapping
entrepreneurs are achieving the same or bigger results than those who
are acquiring external capital. Another business, however, may seek
external funding to pursue bigger growth opportunities. In any case, the
entrepreneur should be in full control. Careful spending and wise use of
resources will reduce risk for the lifetime of the venture.

The following diagram illustrates six primary sources of funding for

a venture and the relative order in which they are usually obtained.
Utilization of funding sources is entirely dependent on the venture and
the type of growth strategies set in place by the entrepreneur.
pg. 13

Idea: Earth Friendly School Supplies
Advice from JeffreyHollender, ideablob Guest Advisor Who are the top three people
who will be the largest
 his is a very interesting idea. You’ll want to make sure you create a solid
T influences of your success?
sales model – beyond trade shows -- for reaching out to the school systems What are their strengths?
that will buy your products. You should talk to distributors in the space to
learn about the risks and opportunities your business will face. They will 2.
be the most knowledgeable about the market, and can guide you. I would 3.
also encourage you to open up the product-development process to your 4.
customers—school systems and even the kids. Use your website to solicit 5.
ideas for what your customers need and desire in eco-friendly school
supplies. By getting your customers to help design your products, you’ll
increase the odds that they’ll buy your products.

Step 3 – The Resources T he People

Each person has his or her own strengths, which benefit a team. Working
with others who have complementary strengths can help grow your business
in new directions. Consider the personality traits and skills you possess and
then list qualities you lack. When looking for additional support and guidance,
pay attention to the skills that the other person has. Are they compatible
with you and complement or supplement what you lack? Strong personal
relationships with a co-worker or advisor can be very beneficial to the success
of the company. However, if the person has skills or values that do not match
the vision of the company and your own work ethic, it’s likely the dynamics
will prove too frustrating for you to maintain either a good relationship or a
commitment to the company.
pg. 14

On the Web
Idea: Businesses on a Shoestring
Advice from ttaulli, ideablob Advisor
•P  reparing The Competitive
Analysis Section Of The
 aising capital is never easy – even for large companies. Investors want
Business Plan
to see a clear plan (such as with a business plan or executive summary) • E ven A Solo Entrepreneur
and an owner that has the skills to achieve the milestones (building a Needs a Team of Players
product/service and getting customers). • T he Art of Bootstrapping
• T he 6 Biggest Mistakes in
A big part of the process is finding qualified investors who understand Raising Startup Capital
the risks. This means leveraging your current network as well as making
new contacts. In fact, a good source is to ask service providers, such as
CPAs, attorneys; and so on.

No doubt, this process can be long (it’s not uncommon for an early stage
capital raise to take six months to a year).

There are also tricky legal issues, which can cause problems for the
future of your venture. So, make sure you have qualified counsel to help
with the necessary documents.


What is the largest funding source (if any) that you anticipate during the life of your venture?
How are you planning to raise the initial money you’ll need to get rolling?


5 Private Equity

4 Venture Capital

3 Bank Loans

2 Angel Investor(s)

1 Friends and Family

Growing It ::: pg. 15

Operations Every successful business venture requires day-to-day work. When you have
moved from vision to implementation, things may not always be so optimistic. What are five key strategies
With an operations plan in place, however, you can stay in control of many of that are essential to the
the unpredictable events that occur. What does an average day of work look achievement of your goals?
and feel like? What are the systems and processes that will be in place? Who
are the leaders? These are all reasonable questions for your operational plan. 2.
Idea: 850 Squared Online Education 4.
Advice from Marisacatalina, ideablobber 5.

 listen to your potential audience. As the founder of a community-based

nonprofit arts center in NYC, I listen to my students every single day about
how we can better serve them. Before we even started programming we did
market research with hundreds of teens and their parents from our target
area and asked what they wanted to learn, what kids of arts classes they
currently have access to, and how they like to spend their after-school hours.
If you listen to those you serve you will grow organically.

Marketing Top 10 Ways To Spread The Word

1. Guest Blogging on Popular Website Blogs

2. E-Mail Newsletter List with Monthly, no-strings-attached
Product Giveaways.
3. Viral Video Contests
4. Become a vendor or supplier at popular events (concerts, baseball games, etc.)
5. Text Messaging Perks (“Text 66937 to XYZ!”) –
using services such as Mozes.com
6. Printed Post-It Notes in Bathroom Stalls at
Bars (with handwritten typeface)
7. Temporary Spray Chalk Messages on Busy Sidewalks
8. Sponsor the best networking events or lunch-ins at the office
9. Provide the best product and the best customer service
10. Fighting for a cause – a unique petition, Facebook Group, etc.
pg. 16

On the Web
Idea: YALHDAH Magazine
Advice from thebizguy, ideablob Advisor •T  hree Ways To Grow Your
Try and create partnerships with various organizations to gain exposure • H ow To Grow Business
and readers (giving away the magazine will help expedite this process!). Revenue Every Year
Maybe try setting up an interactive forum on your website (check out • T he Top 5 Viral Facebook
Vbulletin.com for some affordable software plug-ins) which will help Techniques
keep your readership interactive with one another which will surely • 19 Viral Marketing Techniques
attract more readers to your magazine. Looks like you are definitely on
the right track and congrats on getting this far. Best of luck and visit me
on YoungEntrepreneur.com (user BizGuy) if you have any other questions
on publishing.

Managing Growth
Growth is essential to the life of your venture. It enables you to achieve
goals and have a more significant impact on your community. But
growing too fast can jeopardize the quality of your service. One common
mistake is running out of cash along the way. It is essential to have a
growth plan in place so that you are prepared for the worst.

Idea: Elimidae Eco Friendly Clothing

Advice from ResidentBlobber, ideablob Advisor

 anaging cash flow is key, as you have experienced. The first step I
would take is to find out what opportunities you can capitalize on during
the off seasons. It will take some creativity (which should be no problem
for you.) Perhaps there is a line of products, how you position your
company in the marketplace (versus your competition), a certain location,
or type of strategy that you utilize to make things more manageable. I
wouldn’t be inclined to seek outside funding, unless there are serious
growth plans in place. By growth, I mean that a strong customer base
has been identified and there is an opportunity to scale. Here are a few
articles on sources of funding. (continued on ideablob.com)
Posting Your Idea on ideablob ::: pg. 17

3 Steps 1. Go to: http://www.ideablob.com

2. Click the “Submit Idea” button.
3. Use your notes from this book, and post a
description of your idea on ideablob.

Top 5 Reasons 1. To receive advice for your idea.

to Use ideablob 2. To build awareness among an active business community.
3. To show your friends and family the latest updates on your venture.
4. To show investors that you have community support.
5. To have a chance at winning the monthly $10,000 prize.
Bonus Tips and Resources ::: pg. 18

10 Things 1. It’s never too late to start a new venture!

to Remember 2. Identify the best opportunity.
3. A plan with strategies helps you focus on what matters.
4. Set procedures and policies to ensure consistency.
5. Success requires teamwork.
6. Commitment means results.
7. A balance of life and work is healthy and rewarding.
8. The ability to adapt and adjust strategies makes you stronger.
9. Attitude and approach influence everything.
10. You are the decision maker.

We wish you and your idea the best of luck. Now what are you waiting for -
blob away.

Local Resources Chamber of Commerce

SBA – http://www.sba.gov
SCORE – http://www.score.org
Books and Magazines
“Best Entrepreneur Books – Amazon.com
“Top Life Balance Books for Entrepreneurs” – About.com
“Novel Ideas” – Entrepreneur.com
Web Sites and Blogs
Ideas vs. Opportunities
105 Business Ideas
The Top 25 Home-Based Business Ideas|
How Bootstrap Entrepreneurs Adapt to Change
7 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Artists
Continue To Be Persistent
Preparing The Competitive Analysis Section Of The Business Plan
Even A Solo Entrepreneur Needs a Team of Players
The Art of Bootstrapping
The 6 Biggest Mistakes in Raising Startup Capital
pg. 19

Three Ways To Grow Your Business

How To Grow Business Revenue Every Year
The Top 5 Viral Facebook Techniques
19 Viral Marketing Techniques

Legal The material presented in this publication is for your information only.
It is not intended to constitute professional advice and should not be relied
upon as such. You should consult your professional legal, tax, business and
other advisors before making decisions or taking actions on matters
of significance to you and your business.

Any links in this publication to third party websites are provided solely as
a convenience to you. The privacy and security practices of such third party
websites may be different from ideablob’s privacy and security practices.
The fact that we provide a link to a third party website does not mean that
we endorse, authorize or sponsor that website or its products or services.
It also does not mean that we are affiliated with the third party website’s
owners or sponsors. Advanta does not control such websites and is not
responsible for any such websites or the content, products, opinions or
services offered by any third parties.