Introduction

Entry provides an outline of business activities that small businesses need to reflect and address during that exciting time when your business enters the market.

This module will focus on that exciting time when your business enters the market for the first time. We’ll talk about how to understand the marketplace, your approach to entering the market, and critical metrics to pay attention to during this phase.
This module will cover seven topics, including:

  • Market Opportunity Assessments
  • Go-To-Market Plans
  • Marketing and Communication Strategy
  • Strategic vs. Implementation Focus
  • Product Development Plan
  • Accounting
  • Grant Funding Landscape
Lesson 1

Opportunity Assessments

A market opportunity assessment is a document that shows there is an identifiable and defined market that is interested in purchasing and using your product or service. A market opportunity assessment can act as guiding tool you use to build your business plan and product development plan. A market opportunity assessment is based on research, normally a combination of both in-person interviews and internet searches.

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Understand the need, importance and components of a market opportunity assessment
  • Identify the difference of each type of market, and
  • Identify the product or service adoption lifecycle including where your are at and who the participants are

Articles
Geoffrey Moore: Why Crossing the Chasm is Still Relevant by Dan Schawbel from Forbes

9 Questions to Ask When Assessing a Market by Andrew Miller
An overview of questions to consider when looking to understand your marketplace or enter a new market.

Tools
The 5 Customer Segments of Technology Adoption
This tool is used to help describe and visualise your customers throughout the life of your product.

Books
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
The Dragons’ Den Guide to Assessing Your Business Concept by The Producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den with John Vyge

Lesson 2

Go-To-Market Plans

A marketing plan is a very detailed document that outlines the specific distribution channels, strategic relationships, marketing programs, and sales processes that a company will use over the medium term to increase sales and revenues.

In contrast, a go-to-market plan is a subset of the full marketing plan. A go-to-market plan is a small business’ approach to first entering a market and securing its first customers and early sales. The go-to-market plan will eventually transform into a full-blown marketing plan for longer term attraction of customers.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Define and understand the importance of the four elements of a go-to-market plan, and
  • Understand the overall interconnection of the go-to-market plan with your overall business strategy and vision

Articles
The Seven-Step Go-To-Market Strategy from the MaRS Library 
Guidance to develop a go-to-market strategy consisting of key aspects including your value proposition, target markets, channels to market and market positioning.

Books
The Dragons’ Den Guide to Assessing Your Business Concept by The Producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den with John Vyge

 
Lesson 3

Marketing and Communications Strategy

Marketing and sales are critical components of the overall success of a business. Marketing is not just about advertising and communication; marketing requires a deep understanding of your customers, what motivates them, what their pain points are, and by understanding this, then identifying the appropriate channels for content delivery.

Marketing strategy development is not an exact science, instead it is more of an art which has tools available for you to draw upon.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Understand the difference between marketing and sales
  • Understand the marketing system process
  • Identify necessary communication techniques to market your product or service
  • Show how your marketing strategy is connected to your overall business’ strategic vision and market analysis

Articles
What is marketing communication? from the MaRS Library
A series of articles providing background on the fundamentals of marketing and communication.

Tools
Marketing Communications from the MaRS Library
A useful workbook to understand and formulate your marketing and communications objectives and develop an execution plan.

Lesson 4

Strategic vs. Implementation Focus

Strategic and implementation focus are two necessary tactics required to have a successful technology business. Strategic thinking is what frames your ultimate end goal and answers the question WHY.

  • Why your company exists
  • Why your product or service adds value?

While implementation thinking takes this strategy to guide the HOW of a business by creating an action plan to execute.

Some “hows” you may ask yourself include…

  • How do we manufacture or deliver our service?
  • Do we have the necessary personnel to meet demand
  • What role should I do and what do I need others to do?

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Identify the difference between strategic and implementation focuses
  • Understand how to work through the strategic focus framework
  • Apply the framework and questions to your own product or service and business

Articles
How to Build your Board of Advisors – A 3-Step Approach from Forbes
An article outlining a way for a small business owner to identify advisers and form a board of advisors.

What is a Gantt chart? from Gantt.com
An article outlining what a Gantt chart is and its history.

Tools
SWOT Analysis from Mindtools
A tool to assess your company’s internal and external influences.

Porter’s Five Forces from Mindtools
A tool to assist with identifying how external factors influence your company.

How to use Porter’s five Forces by Annmarie Hanlon from Smart Insights
A guide on questions to consider when assessing external factors that may influence your company.

Value Chain Analysis from Mindtools
A tool to assist you with working through how to create value for your customers.

How to Make a PESTEL or PEST Analysis from SlideModel.com
A market analysis tool for assessing external factors that may influence your business.

Gantt Charts from Mindtools
A visual project management tool to track activities over a certain timeframe.

Lesson 5

Product Development Plan

A product or service roadmap lays out how you can successfully approach taking your product or service from the concept stage to creation of a physical product or service that the customer is interested in purchasing. There are three main phases to a product or service development roadmap:

  • Corporate identity,
  • Product or service definition and
  • Product or service development

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Define the steps of the product or service roadmap
  • Define the six components of Product or Service Development
  • Understand the difference between must-have features and nice-to-have features, and
  • Know what a minimum viable product or service is.

Articles
Product Release & Product Triangle from the MaRS Library
This provides guidance on balancing the scope, cost, schedule triangle in product development.

Developing a new product: Creating functional and non-functional requirements from the MaRS Library
A high level overview that is a useful starting point for product requirements definition.

Books
The Dragons’ Den Guide to Assessing Your Business Concept by The Producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den with John Vyge

 
Lesson 6

Financials: Accounting

Just like in your personal life, having accurate, up to date, and easy to understand information about your income, bills to pay and bank balance is important to making good money choices. Even early in your business life you need to apply that same logic so you can show investors, lenders, and granting agencies that you understand your business, are able pay suppliers, continue to develop and manufacture your product, and that you have the ability to repay your debt.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Define the types of financial statements and what their uses are
  • Develop a budget, and
  • Understand how to develop forecasts and projections for your business

Tools
Business plan template from BDC
Sample templates for your business plan with a financial appendix.

Books
Financial Accounting for MBAs. Fourth Edition. 2010. Cambridge Business Publishers by Easton, Peter et al.

Lesson 7

Grant Funding Landscape

Grant funding can come from various sources and are generally non-dilutive funds. This means that the funds received do not change the value of the company s shares or the company’s capital structure.
Grant funding is normally the first step of investment that early stage companies look to as this type of investment is a direct injection of cash into the business. On average, grant funding is between $10,000 and $100,000, but there are agencies out there that fund into the hundreds of thousands and even millions, though there are very few.

By the end of this session you should be able to:

  • Describe what grant funds are
  • Understand how grant funds are normally received
  • Identify where grant funds can be found in Alberta and Canada, and
  • Define the necessary components of a funding strategy

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