As you finalize your business proposal or update it in later Rounds, here is a final how-to before submitting your idea to Round 1 of The African Entrepreneurship Award. Does your business proposal have what it takes to reach Round 2, Round 3 and finally be selected for a Presidential Jury round?
Before hitting the submit button today or tomorrow, you want to be sure to have a complete and well-articulated business proposal. After one mentor sees your business proposal, you may be able to edit before a second mentor receives it. It’s important to know, though, that every mentor has a chance to offer you mentoring, and the more complete and understandable your proposal is, the better the feedback you will receive. Whether you’ve already submitted or you will submit in the next two days, ask yourself the following, important questions to know if your proposal is a strong one.
Question 1: Does my business idea fit into an appropriate category?
Remember, the African Entrepreneurship Award for 2015 is a $1 million award for ideas and businesses in the education, environment and uncharted domains. Make sure your business idea actually fits one of these categories. More importantly, make sure you coherently describe your idea and have strong points backing up why your idea falls into any of the following categories.
Question 2: Does my business idea solve a problem?
An important aspect of any business idea is what problem the business will solve. Whether you ask yourself “why hasn’t this been done before?” or “how can I sort this out?” you will find that a problem with a solution is synonymous with a great business idea. When you are writing your business proposal or getting feedback from an Award mentor, remember to clearly define for yourself what the problem is and how your business idea provides a solution. Also, how will your solution turn your business idea into a profit making venture?
Question 3: Who are my business’s target customers?
When planning or scaling a business, it is imperative that you know exactly who your target customers are and how they must respond to your product for your business idea to be successful. Do not guess what your customers want or need; get to know them and tailor your prototype for them. More importantly, focus on how to express this in your business proposal. Again, your business or product can be magnificent; but if it doesn’t meet your customers’ needs in a way that is satisfactory to them, it might not be successful. When possible, get out there and talk to your customers. Figure out what they need and continually improve your product for them based on feedback.
Question 4: What is the technological component of my business?
What’s hot today is not tomorrow. You may have heard this said in conversations about the latest tech trends in the world today. Ideas and breakthroughs are happening and changing so quickly that a business that seems strong today because it successfully uses a technological advancement may be obsolete tomorrow because the tech factor has been replaced with something more modern. In order to have a strong business proposal, make sure you talk about your business’s technological component and how you will stay ahead of the game. Also, think about how your tech will help your business scale across Africa… a machine in your factory does not qualify as a tech component, but a platform to get paid for your product or service does.
Question 5: Is my business idea scalable in Africa?
While an eligibility requirement of the African Entrepreneurship Award is “your business idea must be for launch in an African country,” scalability is an element that could significantly increase the attractiveness of your business. It is something your mentors will ask you to think about. Does your idea have the ability to impact lives in other parts of Africa by being applicable across borders? Your community may be vastly different from the others in Africa, but could your business have valuable impact on people beyond your own community? This greatly increases your chances at doing well in the Award and receiving great advice from mentors who are familiar with markets in different countries