New Business Road Test
What Entrepreneurs & Executives
Should Do Before Writing a Business Plan

By John W. Mullins
Pearson Education / Financial Times
December 2003
ISBN: 0-273-66356-9
284 Pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$24.95 paper original


This book shows how to assess market opportunities. Building on lessons learned by studying numerous entrepreneurs, the book details the author's seven domains model for assessing new business ideas. The model is comprised of four market and industry domains and three related to the entrepreneurial team.

These seven domains address the central questions in the assessment of any market opportunity: Are the market and industry attractive? Does the opportunity offer compelling customer benefits as well as distinct advantage over other solutions to the customer's needs? Can the team deliver the results they seek and promise to others?

The book is practical and sets out how to run a customer-driven feasibility study that will guide the assessment of any new business idea or opportunity before any investment or time has been spent on the project.


Chapter 1: Opportunity: The Lifeblood of Entrepreneurship How important is opportunity assessment? Three crucial distinctions The seven domains of attractive opportunities Is the market attractive: macro and micro considerations Is the industry attractive: macro and micro considerations Can the team deliver? Using the seven domains model Where do attractive opportunities come from? Opportunities for niche-market entrepreneurs

Chapter 2: Delivering Benefits to Attractive Target Markets Why do we begin our thinking here? Which do customers want, benefits or features? iMode delivers clear benefits at the right price Beer drinkers see the Lite Nike runs away with the athletic shoe business, one segment at a time Sony's Walkman delivers real options makes a costly marketing miscue The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 3: Do Attractive Markets Matter? Hero Honda's rise in India Whole Foods corners a growing market WD-40's many uses makes it market grow EMC capitalizes on technological trends Thinking Machines can't find a market The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 4: Are Different Industries All the Same? In the pharmaceutical industry, most companies win In the DSL industry, most companies lost The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 5: What Does it Take to Gain Distinctive Advantage? Winning in a lousy industry: the resource-based view What makes a viable business model? For Zantac patents mean profits Nokia's processes keep it in front eBay: a dot-com business model that works! EMI loses its first mover advantage WebVan's bricks don't stack up The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 6: Know What You Want Opening vignette: Mahatma Ghandi Howard Schultz's passion for the coffee experience The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 7: The Ability to Execute Who wins, who loses? Critical success factors make the difference Palm has what it takes in the technology business Schwinn hits the skids Breckenridge Brewery loses its fizz The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 8: Connections Matter, but Which Ones Matter Most? Virata turns on a dime Failure history: not yet determined The investor's perspective Lessons learned

Chapter 9: Traps to Avoid The "who is my market" trap: Search Master The "no viable market segment" trap: EO The "no sustainable business model" trap: The "me-too" trap: The Winchester disc drive parade

Chapter 10: Making Lemons into Lemonade Innovation in stagnant markets: Nike, Starbucks Being different in unattractive industries: Wal-Mart, Gap Opportunities for niche market entrepreneurs: Enterprise Car Rental

Chapter 11: What to Do Before You Write Your Business Plan The customer-driven feasibility study The customer-driven feasibility study and the business plan: how do they differ? Opportunities are not static: so shape them! Why bother?

"...shows how to road test ideas and opportunities before writing a business plan and improve the chances of winning both customers and capital" Business Monthly, July 03 "...does provide a reality check for anyone poised to jump into a new venture without thinking. Readers will enjoy discovering the nuggets of wisdom embedded in the case studies." Financial Times, July 03 "The New Business Road Test is a great read: thought-provoking, and not 'business-lite' like so much entrepreneurial advice. It's also digestible for a manager in the thick of things, something many books overlook. The questions John Mullins asks are relevant to new ventures and existing businesses looking to move forward, and this book will help you do just that. " Max Aitken Chief Executive, Ratio One

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