More people than ever are becoming entrepreneurs, but the perils of starting a new business are well-documented. The Smart Entrepreneur teaches you how to avoid typical pitfalls and make your business a success by guiding you through the crucial decisions you need to make after your ‘eureka’ moment of inspiration.

The Smart Entrepreneur uses a combination of real-life case studies and state-of-the-art academic research from authors with hands-on experience of venture coaching and developing start-ups. The book’s format is based on the flagship Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Design programme offered at Imperial College Business School.

Especially useful for innovative and ambitious start-ups often requiring a great deal of effort and capital expenditure just to get to the testing phase – The Smart Entrepreneur offers a cutting-edge approach to enable entrepreneurs to rigorously test and improve their business idea before committing all their capital. It is a book of immense value to shape creative and innovative business ideas that carry a great deal of risk.

Stage 1: Idea creation and evaluation

The aim in this section is to look at how business ideas are matched with credible opportunities, whether you’re starting from a perceived market or from a technology or competence that you’d like to commercialise. We emphasise the importance of considering a range of possibilities and evaluating each new idea with respect to existing alternatives already on the market, and perhaps modifying or improving it accordingly.

Stage 2: From idea to business proposition

This section looks at the broadening of an initial idea for a product, service or application into a rounded business strategy, by employing preferred witness research (see Chapter 4) to identify and roughly quantify a target market. We show you how to consider the opportunities or limitations of your prospective business environment (Chapter 5), how to protect your ideas and inventions from imitation by competitors (Chapter 6), and how to draw on this information to shape a commercial strategy (Chapter 7).

Stage 3: Proof of concept

This section covers ways to demonstrate and test your business proposition, both technically and commercially, through prototyping and some rough and-ready market testing.

Stage 4: Marshalling resources

This section describes the resources – primarily human and financial – you need to bring a business to fruition, and discusses how to work out a strategy and roadmap for obtaining the most suitable resources at the right time.