How to tell if your creative business idea is a good one…

bright_idea

“A good business idea solves a specific problem for a particular group of people in a way that removes their objections to using the solution and is different from what other competing businesses are doing”  

Susan Jones ReadysetStartup.com 

With only a month to go before the Deutsche Bank Award in Creative Practice  launches on Wednesday 15th January 2014, many final year GSA students will be contemplating what fantastic idea they can submit  to win the £10, 000 prize on offer.  (For further details of Deutsche Bank Award can be found on: https://gsacareers.wordpress.com/deutsche-bank-award-in-creative-practice/)

For creative people,  generating innovative  ideas and solutions to projects and problems is what they love to do. They thrive on possibilities, problem solving and creating options, often finding the tricky bit is how to evaluate and narrow down choices to take forward. This can be certainly true when thinking of ideas that can be taken forward within a creative business context.

We all know that for every great creative business idea there are hundreds of unsuccessful ones. The ideas that don’t make it, normally have a couple of things in common: poor research and evaluation. This is usually due to the entrepreneur being so excited by their idea, that they rush into developing it without fully testing it in the market or taking on-board any signs that it might not be such a great idea after all.  This can be costly and time consuming. Make sure that you avoid this mistake by remembering to stay objective, as well as passionate about your idea. 

Here are three  key points to consider when evaluating your idea to ensure that it is a successful one :

  1. Define your idea and understand it’s purpose…what problem is your idea solving, who is the audience for this idea, what is its unique selling point (USP) ? Defining your idea fully will help you to identify your customer and articulate why there is a need of your  idea. See 10 ways to evaluate my business idea for Dummies for some critical questions to consider regarding your idea:  http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-ways-to-evaluate-a-new-business-idea.html
  2. Undertake real market research…. Market research is key to articulating your idea’s value to others. As always make sure that you gain proper facts and figures…guessing is free but highly unreliable.  Great market research  combines quantitative and qualitative research (http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/market-research/qualitative-or-quantitative-which-method-is-for-you-)  and will help you to develop and refine your idea. Want to find out more about researching the market. This article from Entrepreneur website is useful:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/70518 and  resources at the Design Trust: http://www.thedesigntrust.co.uk/the-design-doctor-how-can-i-do-market-research/
  3. Listen to advice and feedback…aim to ask a range of  your potential audience about your idea. Remember variety is really important here. Family and friends are often highly supportive, but might  not  be very objective.  Test your idea thoroughly. Be prepared to listen to all advice, good and bad and stay flexible. Great ideas will undertake various development stages before being fully ready for its market.

Here are some further links to evaluating your ideas

biHow to Generate Ideas:

How to Evaluate Ideas:

Protecting ideas:

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Writing the perfect personal statement….

Chalkboard - Writer's Block

If you are currently applying to job, graduate vacancy or for entry into a postgraduate course you will know that writing  a fantastic  personal statement is key to the success of your application.

personal statement  is your chance to tell the opportunity provider why you want the opportunity and why you are the best candidate for it. It is not overly ‘personal’ it doesn’t discuss your life journey or favourite hobbies. It is a targeted statement that showcases how your individual experiences, skills, motivations etc are relevant to the opportunity on offer. 

Writing personal statements can be tricky to master, especially if you are writing to a word, character or line limit.  Key to success is understanding your statements focus i.e. what /who is it for.  By understanding your  statements ‘purpose’ you will be able to; reflect on and identify what elements in your skills/experience history are relevant to highlight, and tell the opportunity provider about.

The other key to success is applying a good structure to your statement. Take your reader on a journey that has a  definite start,  a middle and end. Make it engaging  and ensure that it flows from one point to another.  Your basic structure will include: 

  • An introduction; that states why you are applying. Its a good idea to grab your readers attention by using punchy,  positive  and engaging language.
  • A main body of  text:  That states why you are the right candidate for the opportunity and links your skills, experience , motivation to the job or course on offer. It will also showcase great examples that will evidence those skills in action.
  • A conclusion: This is a short statement that provides an overview or  summary of what you have already told them.

Once you have  written you statement make sure that you take time to  review and reflect on it. Always have an objective friend proof read it and check for;  its relevance to the opportunity, spelling /grammar errors  and tone.  Other top tips for writing your personal statement include:

  • Do write in a positive, persuasive,  active tone with lots of great examples to evidence your main points. ( its a good idea to reflect the language used by the opportunity provider)
  • Do give yourself  a good amount of time to research and draft your statement before the deadline.
  • Do tailor your statement to match and reflect the opportunity.
  • Do keep your sentences short, concise and to the point and  keep your paragraphs small ( remember that dense  blocked text can be difficult to read)
  • Do check your spelling and grammar for errors.
  • Don’t think that you can write your statement in one attempt- draft several copies of your statement so that you can refine and seek others options on it. ( get them to check whether; you  have you expressed yourself clearly and that you have matched yourself well to the opportunity)
  • Don’t leave writing it to the last minute or cut and paste from other statements. This will lead to mistakes.
  • Don’t fill your statement with clichés,  weak phrasing, irrelevant facts or waffle ( avoid stating that you are ‘passionate’ ( it tends to be over used in personal statements) or that you ‘think’ you are good at something,  be positive and confident in your abilities…..)
  • Don’t use quotes, humour or make claims that are not true.

And remember that personal statements for employment  and entry into a further education course will be different in tone and focus. So always do your research and understand the purpose of your statement and the audience who will be reading it before putting pen to paper! 

Why not ask  the GSACareer Service for the ‘Personal Statement’ handout  or seek advice from the  GSA Career adviser about your personal statement approaches.Email for an appointment at careers@gsa.ac.uk 

Further Links and Advice

Personal Statements for Jobs 

Personal Statements for Courses