I am thinking about developing some sort of entrepreneurial business seminar/development program (or have it shot down by good research that demonstrates there is no need).
I'd like your help in thinking this through. So, if you would, please read this post and send me a comment - here is fine - or by email.
There are already many programs in the Midwest that seem to focus on quick hits at a variety of levels. In other words, all kinds of organizations do a several hour, half day or full day session on lots of topics.
Way at the other end, there are classes that are traditional one to many programs held on some regular interval over a longer period of time – 6 weeks – a whole semester – or more.
There are many web learning opportunities of one sort or another.
What I have seen frequently are entrepreneurs who need help individually developing their plan for success. They show up on my doorstep because they think they need funding to succeed (and usually to take the next step) – and some do. Most need planning assistance based on experience. Business consultants frequently fill this gap. However, those that are willing to work with startups are sometimes either very expensive or not very good, or both. Of course, there are great examples of this working well, like Randy Komisar. (The Monk and the Riddle)
There are several examples of “investors” that have run some sort of modified summer camp program. (See "Smartups" by Bob Ryan as one example.)
The open question – is there a need in the Midwest for some sort of program – perhaps part in-person (a weekend?) part online community – that would fill a need that (some) entrepreneurs (might) have?
The initial thought is to work at an individual level on major topics to begin with – the plan, the market map, people – and so forth. And then perhaps to branch (or morph) into areas of specific interest to participants. It might kick off with a weekend of workshops, maintain an online forum for a month or so, then reconvene, then back to the forum, etc. I wonder if this would really help provide advice and support as well as networking for participants.
Its cost would be less than a consultant but more than a seminar and its value would be in developing the business plan sufficiently that the entrepreneur could obtain a clear picture of the market and the hurdles presented to the business.
Companies would be selected on some sort of application (?) process and the group in each seminar would be limited to four or five companies. It might be possible that companies from across various seminars might network together. Would this look a bit like VC portfolio company networking?
So, dear reader, please HELP. Let me know:
1. Is this an idea worth pursuing, or is it “been there, done that”?
2. What topics, structures, etc. would be most helpful to entrepreneurs?
3. Other recommendations?
Comment below or email here: firstname.lastname@example.org