An Identified Market Opportunity

From Have an idea for a new business? It pays to do your homework first (our bold):

JIM FLOWERS, director, VT KnowledgeWorks

What is the role of entrepreneurship now that we're in a period of economic recovery?

Many of the new businesses started during the recession were formed by displaced workers in response to unemployment, rather than in response to some clear economic opportunity. I view that phenomenon as statistical entrepreneurship, not real entrepreneurship.

Unfortunately, the agencies that count these things do not have a good way to tell the difference between a real venture, a hobby business and a defensive attempt to make a buck while temporarily unemployed. In a period of renewed economic growth, on the other hand, there are presumably more chances to form a business that addresses a genuine opportunity. If I am correct, we ought to see, in the long run, a higher survival rate among companies being formed now, as opposed to those started during the previous two years.

What's the one thing you wish every would-be technology entrepreneur knew before he or she decided to launch a small business in today's climate?

I am convinced that most business ventures that fail should never have been attempted in the first place, regardless of the economic climate.

Far too many people launch businesses based on wishful thinking about market behavior. They project onto a market some desired response to their cherished invention, rather than identifying a clear and compelling market opportunity and then responding with a product or service that addresses that opportunity with uncommon power.

I wish every aspiring entrepreneur would take advantage of all the information now available to confirm that he or she truly has identified a market opportunity — a growing population with a compelling situation. Only then should they invent a product or service, one that addresses buyers' needs and sets them apart from competitors and substitutes.


From the Cox Business Executive Discussion Series:

THE NEW AGE OF ENTREPRENEURS: Starting up small business in 2011

What better time to launch your own business than when the economy tanks and jobs become scarce? Business startups reached their highest level in 14 years in 2009, during the height of the recession, according to the Kauffman Foundation. But wanting to start a small business isn't just about having a great idea, especially when start-up capital is scarce. Join our panelists for a discussion about the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship in the wake of the Great Recession.

Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, will join panelists David Catalano, Terry O'Shaughnessy, Wayne E. Flippen and Laura Godfrey.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
7:30 AM Registration and breakfast
8:00 AM Program

Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center
2801 Hershberger Road NW
Roanoke, VA 24017
(540) 563-9300 ‎
Directions (Google Maps)

Admission is free.  Registration ends Monday, May 2, 2011.  More information.


VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a self-sustaining not-for-profit subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, funded through the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual.  Its world headquarters is in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, The Branch Group, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

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