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ask SCORE: What really works for start-ups and growing businesses

What really works for start-ups and growing businesses
A concept statement and continuous tinkering
'There's more than one way to start and grow a business venture'
By Richard Walton
Assistant District Director for SCORE

There is a great deal of talk these days about how to help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running. Everyone knows that small businesses create jobs, and so there are many supportive programs available to the entrepreneur to help provide the resources necessary to be successful in a small business start up as well as grow an existing business.
Of the many programs available to both start-ups and existing businesses, the most important is counseling in the process of generating the Business Concept and fine tuning it as new information and experience becomes available. All too often in my work with SCORE, I have seen business proposals that begin with the request for funding, thereby making the assumption that there is no need for an analysis and review of the basic Business Concept and plan. This means that new ways of doing things, alternative ideas, and practical concept testing are not being fully explored, much to the potential detriment of the venture.
In order to develop an initial concept statement, you might start with a series of provocative questions, such as the following:
What is my product or service?
What does my product/service do?
How is it different or better than other products/services?
Who will buy the product/service?
Why will they buy the product/service?
How will the product/service be promoted and sold/offered?
Who are my competitors?
Source: The Kauffman Foundation
In the process of exploring these questions, you will typically find that there are a number of different ways in which they can be answered, which means that there are a number of ways in which the Business Concept might finally be structured. It will also enable the entrepreneur or manager to describe the essence of his or her business in a few sentences, or perhaps only one, thereby reducing complexity to simplicity, a key to developing relationships and support from bankers, suppliers, and customers.
The Business Concept is the starting point of the entrepreneurial venture, whether it is for a new business or an existing business, and it needs to be continuously examined, tested and revised for maximum effect. SCORE volunteers can help entrepreneurs and managers develop and go forward with a winning Business Concept. It is the foundation of all future success. Call SCORE today for a free Business Concept mentoring session. SCORE also offers training programs in starting and growing a business, including 'Simple Steps for Starting Your Business' (to be presented in October, 2012) and 'Simple Steps for Growing Your Business' (to be presented in November, 2012).

Mr. Walton teaches Financial Management, Operations Management, Corporation Finance, and Entrepreneurial Finance at Frostburg State University. He is also Assistant District Director for SCORE, Western Maryland, and the President of ERMACORP, a Hagerstown based Management Consulting Firm. He may be reached at 301-462-9850, or by email to

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