Guidelines for Creating and Growing Ventures

So you are considering starting a new venture or joining an early venture! This document is intended as a set of guidelines to help you organize your work. It's aim is to be a comprehensive outline of the major considerations in conceiving, launching and growing a new venture. There is never a complete guarantee of success, but if you follow the steps outlined in this document in a self-critical and thorough way, you will certainly improve your chances for success.

This document is a dynamic collection of the thoughts and insights of the community of scholars and entrepreneurs who make up the Duke Entrepreneurship community. Additional insights and perspectives can be found at the companion site: Duke Entrepreneurship Research.


First principles

An entrepreneurial opportunity when you can match a compelling solution to an unsolved problem or unsatisfied need. A problem without a solution or a solution without a problem are not foundations for a new venture.

The first step in an entrepreneurial venture is to identify a real opportunity. Next you create a plan to address that opportunity. Then you execute that plan. This yields the simplest model of entrepreneurship:


In reality, these steps are ongoing, dynamic and iterative. That is, your initial idea of the opportunity is just an hypothesis. You can test your hypothesis by formulating a plan and testing elements of it. This process has already led you some way down the path of execution. But you should be continually adjusting your plans and also continuing to evaluate critically your opportunity. As you work to establish and grow your venture, you will continually refine your understanding of the opportunity you are pursuing and adjusting the plans that drive your company.



Another way to conceive the development of your venture is a continual outward spiral through the basic activities that comprise any business.



The overall structure of this site is described at How this document is organized.