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Turning Ideas into Income

Photo provided by Cole Ehmke, AICC

AICC and New Ventures sponsor workshops to help entrepreneurs learn new skills, such as how to write a business plan.

Starting a business takes more than just a great idea. Turning that great idea into income takes a lot of planning and that oft-repeated buzzword "networking." But what kind of planning can help get a business off the ground? How does networking work? How do entrepreneurs know if their ideas can make it in the marketplace?

AICC Answers

Purdue University's Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center (AICC) provides answers to these and many other questions. AICC offers advice and educational materials to help guide entrepreneurs through all the steps in the business planning process.

First Steps for New Entrepreneurs

  • Determine personal and business goals.
  • Establish SMART objectives—Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timely.
  • Map strategy with an action plan.

"Many entrepreneurs are great idea people, but they often think they'll get bogged down in the business planning process. Yet creating a business plan and assessing the idea's feasibility and profitability are early keys to future success," said Jane Anderson, assessment specialist with AICC.

Online Business Planning

To help entrepreneurs, AICC offers a free, online business planning tool, INVenture, that guides users through those early steps. INVenture provides links to background information to help entrepreneurs identify and locate their customers—and their competition.

Elements of a Business Plan

  • Business Description
    What do you plan to do; why are you starting the venture?
  • Market Analysis
    Who will be your customers; what do they want from you?
  • Competitor Assessment
    Who will you compete against?
  • Marketing Plan
    How will you reach your customers?
  • Operation and Management
    How do you plan to implement your idea?
  • Financial Plan
    How much money will it cost, and where will you get the necessary funds?
  • Executive Summary
    What are the fundamentals of the venture?

"After working with the Web-based INVenture, prospective entrepreneurs should have a better understanding of the commercial viability of their idea," said Mike Boehlje, Purdue Extension agricultural economist and co-director of the center.

Purdue Extension Partnership

AICC works in partnership with Purdue Extension's New Ventures Team, a group of specialists and educators who provide one-on-one contact through all the stages of business development, such as developing a business plan and marketing strategy and identifying sources of funding. Team members, located in county Extension offices across the state and on the Purdue campus, have helped Indiana entrepreneurs who are interested in starting specialty food- or agriculture-related businesses.

Together, AICC and New Ventures stand to benefit new and veteran business owners alike. The combination of Web-based planning tools and personal contact with Purdue Extension educators promises to give Indiana's entrepreneurs the skills they need to see their own new ventures take root and grow.