Business Posts

Business Startup Help

Let us say you have had an idea rattling around in your head for a few years about how to improve a basic service or product that you have used in the past. You are pretty sure you have the knowledge and skill to deliver that enhanced service or product. Now you are wondering how to go about commercializing it.

Almost every business startup entrepreneur has gone down a similar path of having a great idea and wondering how to bring it to market. Occasionally, lightning strikes and the idea is truly a zero-to-one proposition–there was no one doing it and suddenly there is one doing it. However, those are few and far between. In most instances, the new idea is an enhancement or improvement over current services or products.

A number of organizations exist to support this type of would-be entrepreneur. Many years ago, states and local governments began establishing support networks to help people commercialize their ideas. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a major player in the small business support network; the Small Business Development Centers and the SCORE volunteer network are two examples of SBA efforts.

In recent years, more and more independent incubators and accelerators have popped up in metropolitan areas or near research universities across the nation. Public libraries have even started to engage in this support effort; the Naperville Public Library’s NaperLaunch Business Services Center is a prime example of libraries getting into the mix.

Usually, a startup founder already has a good idea; business acumen may be the thing that is needed most. That kind of help can generally be provided by the types of organizations mentioned above. One of the advantages of these groups is the personal experience of the people involved. Former founders like to share their expertise, and many of them can be engaged through participation at an incubator, accelerator, business development center or similar facility.

At the NaperLaunch Business Services Center, for instance, the focus is on teaching and sharing this kind of expertise. A partnership with experienced SCORE volunteers provides expert mentoring services to augment the library’s vast print and online information resources. This emphasis on authoritative information resources and expert mentors are just two of the things that set NaperLaunch apart from other startup organizations; another is the fact that these services are provided free of charge.

Most currently available programs assist startups in the very early stages of developing an idea, identifying a customer problem and creating a solution that can be delivered profitably. At NaperLaunch, startups are instructed and coached through these steps leading to development of a unique value proposition. The NaperLaunch Academy curriculum provides specific instruction on how to take these idea-development steps and then complete a break-even analysis, develop a business plan and create a marketing strategy.

In the past year, it became obvious that some NaperLaunch members had moved beyond the startup stage and needed new ways to advance their businesses. In response, several Master Mind groups were organized that have attracted productive founders to participate and continue their progress.

Program participants have voiced appreciation for the assistance gained. It is a testament to the philosophy of “giving back” that so many individuals have provided so much startup help to local entrepreneurs. In these ways the mission of NaperLaunch, to foster business success, is fulfilled.

Posted: 
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 08:45

The Lean Startup

A major part of the mission of NaperLaunch is to foster business success. Our intent is to help business founders find the information they need to be successful in launching and operating a business.

We believe in a process-driven approach to make certain that important steps and issues are at least thought through and considered, if not fully executed. Over the years we have adopted some basic concepts from the best thinkers in the world of entrepreneurship. Those concepts are at the core of the startup process we try to follow.

Many of the concepts we adopted are based on the idea of “lean startup,” originated by Steve Blank and enhanced over many years by Eric Ries and others. We have also tried to adopt the concepts of the Lean Business Model Canvas originally put forth by Ash Mauriya. Each of these key thought leaders has authored books on the subject, all of which are available at the Naperville Public Library.

To bring a new offering to market, we always encourage a startup founder to consider what Eric Ries calls the Build-Measure-Feedback loop. This process is all about identifying a customer need and preparing a solution, which becomes your product or service. Once a minimum viable product is created, it is time to measure customer reactions and obtain feedback. Based on these steps, a founder learns quickly what will be successful and what will not. As feedback is received, a needed pivot may be revealed. This leads to a more perfect match of the market need to the product–market and product fit. The lean startup process gets to market match, market success and potential scale-up more quickly than other approaches.

To learn more about these concepts, please see The Lean Startup website.

If you are a startup founder interested in a curriculum of study in this process-driven lean startup approach, check out the NaperLaunch Academy. Our next six-workshop series begins on Tuesday, October 20. For more information and to register, visit our website.

We wish you much success in your entrepreneurial journey!


book cover

The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win by Steve Blank

book cover

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works by Ash Maurya


Posted: 
Friday, October 9, 2020 - 12:30

NaperLaunch Academy Offers New Options for Accessing Business Startup Curriculum

More than 100 entrepreneurs have attended NaperLaunch Academy to develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process.” To meet the needs of busy entrepreneurs, the Academy curriculum is now available in two formats: live workshops or self-guided virtual courses.

Live Workshops

Beginning August 11, SCORE mentors and NaperLaunch staff will present the Academy curriculum in a series of six 2-hour workshops, which will be offered in an ongoing, sequential rotation. Participants may choose to attend some or all of the following workshops in the sequence that best meets their needs.

  • Business Conceptualization
  • Startup Financial Issues
  • Business Operations
  • Business Planning
  • Strategic Marketing Planning
  • Sales

This fall, workshops will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from August 11 to September 15, and on Wednesdays from September 23 to October 28. Workshops will take place via Zoom videoconference until further notice.

More information, including course descriptions and registration information, can be found on the NaperLaunch Academy webpage.

Self-Guided Virtual Courses

In addition, the original 17 NaperLaunch Academy class sessions are available virtually on the NaperLaunch BizVids webpage. Participants can work through the courses on their own schedule. Sessions were videorecorded during a previous NaperLaunch Academy cohort and are provided with links to handouts and PowerPoint presentations.

Posted: 
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 16:00