REAL TALK GUIDELINES
So you’re thinking about starting a new business. Or expanding an existing business. You’ve come to the right place – the Taos Entrepreneurial Network is here to help. Our goal is to provide individuals with the practical guidance they need to start and grow their business.
Real Talk sessions occur on the last Thursday of each month.
Our “Real Talk” sessions offer the chance for you to meet with some of the brightest business minds in Taos in a private one-on-one 30 minute session.
What Real Talk is and isn’t
Real Talk is a chance to present your ideas. To get honest answers and positive suggestions from experienced business people. What Real Talk isn’t, is a solution to your quest for meaning. It’s not a place to come looking for money. Or to wonder about ideas that you are not passionate about.
What we want to know
This is your business and you are of course free to pitch it however you want to. But for us to help you, we’d like to know the answers to the following questions. If you don’t already have an airtight, bullet proof pitch, this is not a bad outline to build on.
Utilizing the outline below, create a document that must be submitted on the Monday to firstname.lastname@example.org before your session in order to be qualified to participate. On the top of your submitted Real Talk Document, please include the following:
Your full name
Business mailing address
Whether your business is an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, etc.
What year your business structure was created.
We’ve only got 30 minutes so please plan on getting through all of these points in 10 minutes or less. You should be able to explain each point in a minute. We need the concepts and the big ideas – our discussion with you will focus on the details.
- What is your business idea? You may have heard this described as an elevator pitch. It’s such an important part of business that TEN regularly hosts Elevator Pitch contests. Here is a nice template you can use to get started. You’ve got 30 seconds.
We solve [problem] by providing [advantage], to help [target] accomplish [target’s goal]. We make money by charging [customers] to get [benefit].
e.g. Our Wood-O-Lyzer enables families to stay on budget by burning firewood more efficiently. Customers pay a low monthly subscription for our service.
Notice that in just 30 seconds it is possible to communicate a great deal about what you do, who your customer is, and why they will want to do business with you. Basically all the things the Real Talk team needs to know to help you move forward.
- What is the problem you are solving? A Real Talk session is all about being specific. Tell us why your prospective customer desperately needs to solve this problem. Keep it punchy and make it personal. Your goal is to get us to feel your prospective customer’s pain and nod our heads. If you can’t convince us that there is a real problem, don’t be surprised if we tell you that you don’t have a real business idea.
- What is your solution? Start with the benefits that the customer will enjoy after they buy your product or service. This is your value proposition. Here is a handy definition
A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. (e.g. stay warm and stay on budget.)
Next, and you need to really work on this, we need to understand what makes your idea different than anything else in the market. If for example you are going to open (another) restaurant how and why is yours going to be better?
Especially here in Taos, why is your idea going to succeed when so many others like it fail? And if it’s going to be completely amazing and totally different than anything anyone has ever seen before anywhere, please be sure that you can tell us why.
- What is your experience? Are you expanding an existing business or are trying something new?
- What do you need to get started and how far along are you? You don’t need to have developed a business plan to benefit from a Real Talk session. But a lot of the discussion at this point often turns to the kinds of questions and answers that are part and parcel of a business plan. Let’s be real – how much money do you think you will need and where do you plan to get it? Where will you locate your business? What kind of timeline are you looking at?
- How are you going to market your business? How are people going to find out about you and your services? What are your plans for a website, advertising, social media and PR? Who is going to handle this for you? TEN is all about networking and frequently we can help point you to people who can share hard earned advice and expertise.
- Who’s on your team? There are very few businesses that are truly one person operations. And almost none that grow like that. What kinds of skills do you need, where will you find the people and why will they want to work for you? As for bringing people with you – simple rule – don’t bring anyone who isn’t going to present.
- What do you need from us? Write a list of what you need our help with. This way, you will come in prepared and we will know what you need.
The Taos Entrepreneurial Network (TEN) is committed to encouraging grass roots economic development by supporting entrepreneurs with the information and resources they need to be successful. We are a non-profit organization with an incredible volunteer base that has been there and done that.
What we have learned doing Real Talk is that the more prepared you are, the more valuable our time together will be. We look forward to meeting you, to learning about your idea and to helping you to move forward.