Finding an Idea
There is not a tried and true track to coming up with a breakthrough idea. Some students arrive on campus with an idea that they’ve nurtured through a prior work experience, others develop an idea based on exposure to a case, course project or field study. If you are actively looking for an idea, there are several avenues that will at least bring you into contact with ideas – or, importantly – other people with ideas.
- In conjunction with the HBS Business Plan Contest, the Rock Center organizes several team building sessions. See the Business Plan Contest calendar for a full listing of events.
- The fall term second-year elective, Commercializing Science (syllabus), pairs MBAs with students and faculty from other parts of Harvard University (e.g. engineering, biology) to work on projects where scientific inventions are explored for their commercial potential. Often, after participating in this course in the fall, students use their initial work as the basis for a field study/Business Plan Contest submission in the spring.
- Certainly, if you have a general idea of your area of interest (e.g. social networking, health care services, etc.) a summer internship in the field, followed by a field study, is a good way to engage in more in-depth exploration and, hopefully, come upon an un-served market need.
- The fall semester Field Study Seminar: Evaluating the Entrepreneurial Opportunity, is a good way to flesh out and perform an opportunity assessment on an idea. If you don’t have an idea yourself, try to find and work with a student who does.
- Enrolling in the MIT course, e-lab, is also an option.
- "Identifying Your Next Big Opportunity" How do you identify a big opportunity, go after it, and execute it? Those big questions were debated by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
- Ten rules for strategic innovators : from idea to execution The Stamps Reading Room, Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, HD62.5 .G68 2005 Harvard Business School Press, 2005. Case studies and information on innovation within new and existing companies.
- Bplan.com - Starting A Business This site includes start up advice, articles, success stories and guides to help in pursuing a new business opportunity.
- Small Business Administration: Small Business Planner The Small Business Planner includes information and resources that will help you at any stage of the business lifecycle.
- Entrepreneur.com: Business Idea Center Allows searching or browsing of business ideas by industry, profession and cost.
Cases & Teaching Notes
- Developing Start-up Strategies Note
- How Venture Capitalists Evaluate Potential Venture Opportunities Case
- Zipcar: Refining the Business Model Case
Customers and markets
- Market Analysis This site provides access to articles and tools relating to market analysis. Search "market analysis" for specific information.
- Demographics and Consumer Behavior Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on business and consumer demographics as well as consumer lifestyles.
- Industry Research Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on industry overviews, trends, major players, and analysis.
- Competitive Analysis Articles, how-to's and worksheets regarding competitive analysis. Search "competitive analysis" for specific information.
- "Six Keys to Building New Markets by Unleashing Disruptive Innovation" HBS Working Knowledge, March 10, 2003. Managers know they need growth to survive—but innovation isn't easy. This article details the six keys to creating new-growth businesses.
- Company Research Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on companies within an industry. Company information covers list of competitors and peers as well as their financials, analysis and latest developments.
Strategies (Business, Marketing Pricing, etc.)
- Bplan.com - Marketing A Business Includes marketing plan basics, outlines and strategies.
- Sales & Marketing: Marketing Articles and worksheets on marketing and advertising for new ventures. Search "marketing" for specific information.
- Products and Services: Pricing Articles, worksheets and how-to's on pricing products and services. Search "pricing" for specific information.
- Small Business Administration: Market & Price Articles from the SBA on marketing. advertising and pricing.
- Entreprenuer.com: Marketing Includes articles, how to guides, and tools to assist in marketing planning and processes.
- Inc.com: Marketing Resource Center Includes articles, blogs, links and more on marketing strategies for the entreprenuer.
- Entrepreneurial Marketing (HBS Faculty Seminar CD)
- "Learning from High-Potential Ventures: Entrepreneurial Marketing" Interview with Joesph Lassiter III discussing the entrepreneurial marketing mindset and process.
- ABI/ProQuest Database HU PIN For more articles on the topic from academic journals and major industry journals.