Aug 26

Is your great idea a business opportunity?

You think you have a great idea to start a small business. Does it have the potential for lasting financial success?

“We all have great ideas. They’re not all opportunities,” says Dr. Dianne Welsh, director of the Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program in UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics.

Welsh is the professor for UNC Greensboro’s online ENT/BUS 300 Ideas to Opportunities: Feasibility Analysis, which teaches the process for determining business opportunities.

Idea vs. Opportunity

Students in the course learn to differentiate between an idea and an opportunity and write a full feasibility analysis based on research. Working in teams of five, students choose the best business idea from the group, or a community or campus project to see if it’s feasible. This will be the basis for building a business plan, which students can pursue in ENT/BUS 336 Business Plan.

“What students are learning is the process that they can take as a lifelong learner into different settings, whether they want to see if their idea is viable,” she says. “Is this new product or service really feasible?”

Business Skills for All Majors

Students minoring or majoring in entrepreneurship, which is available as an online degree, are required to take the course. Because entrepreneurship minors do not have to be business majors, students from all areas of study take the course — from arts administration, dance, and interior architecture to finance. The minor allows students to combine this program with their major.

“It really has applicability to everybody,” Welsh says.

One of the largest cross-disciplinary program nationwide, the entrepreneurship program teaches students how to start or grow a business, and ways they can be creative and innovative in any organization they are involved in, whether nonprofit or for-profit. With about 50 courses in 27 departments, students can choose from nine areas of study — including franchising, healthcare, education, and technology — to succeed in a global economy.

Improving the Chance for Success

Many people go straight to a business plan, having never heard of feasibility analysis. At the business plan stage, an entrepreneur should have already determined an idea is an opportunity and they’re putting it into action. “That’s why so many businesses fail — because it’s not an opportunity to begin with,” Welsh says. “It’s just an idea.”

Entrepreneurs in Greensboro also have the benefit of starting out in a business-friendly city. Greensboro is one of the top cities to start a small business, noted for things like a high business survival rate, an available workforce, and lenient taxes.

“Greensboro has really excelled in making an investment in entrepreneurs,” Welsh says.

Interactive and Hands-On

Students learn it’s not as easy as going out and starting a business or nonprofit without doing some legwork. The course teaches the steps in determining if an idea is an opportunity, whether to take it to action and what it takes for a business idea to become successful.

Students learn how to:

  • recognize opportunity
  • analyze comparable products or services in the area
  • identify new business opportunities
  • determine if a product is really feasible
  • assess financial strength and viability
  • network and develop business relationships
  • look for financing and funding
  • design a team of founders, advisors, and human resources

Helping Major Corporations

Feasibility analyses are created for nonprofits as well as for-profits, and students in the course have assisted all kinds of area businesses. They have helped a nonprofit decide whether to pursue a for-profit venture selling medical equipment and provided a feasibility analysis for an area hardware company with a new product.

The interactive feasibility analysis process requires team members to work together to research the marketing, product development, financing, and comparable costs of similar products.

“They actually are doing research through the whole thing to make sure it really is viable, or feasible,” Welsh says.

Build on New Skills

Students can build on what they’ve learned in Feasibility Analysis in ENT/BUS 336 Business Plan, which adds instruction on management and deeper study into previous material.

“It’s a continuous, flowing process between the two classes,” Welsh says.

Students continue projects from the Feasibility Analysis course if they decide there is an opportunity, moving to the business plan and putting the plan into action so they can obtain financing. The goal after both courses is to get a business ready to launch.

Find out more about the online B.S. in Entrepreneurship by visiting the program page. This blog was first published by UNCG Online.