What you will study
Investigating entrepreneurial opportunities provides a well structured and clear learning experience for people who are drawn to the idea of starting their own venture. This could be a completely new business, the commercialisation of an innovation in a larger organisation, or a new service in the social or voluntary sectors where there is a need to take into account the rigours of competitive pressures. The module will develop not only the necessary analytic skills but also a better understanding of the needs of market-based competition and the confidence to address these needs successfully.
You will learn to critically assess different aspects of the external environment and of your own resources and capabilities with the aim of establishing and sustaining a profitable new venture. In particular you will learn how to:
assess market dynamics, such as competitors’ and suppliers’ strengths and weaknesses or market gaps, in relation to target customers and competitors
identify critical points of competitive advantage and business success
identify necessary base resources, capabilities and skills needs
gather primary and secondary information for use in customer segmentation, action planning, cashflow and debt management
develop personal and team attributes and capabilities for entrepreneurial success
develop the ability to set clear and attainable objectives and sustain self-motivation, focus and persistence
assess the feasibility of business propositions.
The module starts with a rigorous clarification of the basic business idea with respect to your own capabilities, external environment (focused mainly on likely competitive pressures) and available resources. After a reasonably sound business idea has been established, the module moves up a gear with a more rigorous examination of the proposed market, the marketing and information-gathering implications, and concludes with a robust financial assessment. The module is arranged as two blocks, each with its own workbook. The first block is Developing Entrepreneurial Ideas, which has five sections – the first three on different aspects of enterprise and innovation; the final two on market and resource issues. The second block, Investigating Enterprise Feasibility, has three sections – scoping the research, marketing research and financial viability.
There is a Study Guide on the website which will be a ‘living document’. It provides the rationale for the module, an outline of its learning objectives, a description of the module content and structure and indicate where it fits with other related modules. The Study Guide contains information on tutor-marked assignments and the end-of-module assessment plus descriptions of OU requirements and systems. The Study Guide also has copies of the checklists and models used in the online activities as well as copies of each of the TMA and EMA questions.
This module allows sufficient time for discussion and reflection. The activities are online and generally take the form of interactive checklists or grids to support analysis. The structure of the module is iterative in concept with succeeding activities drawing on previous activities and in-text questions. The activities feed into the TMAs and, at the end, into the EMA. Indeed, you are encouraged to attach activity-driven analysis as appendices to your TMAs. In order to encourage reflection, certain activities return to previous analysis but with a tighter focus. As a consequence, learning and analysis accrete as the module progresses but without undue increase in workload. The purpose of this module is to develop a robust and sustainable business idea and not a business plan per se. However, the analysis embedded in Investigating entrepreneurial opportunities supports the development of business, growth and marketing plans plus, above all, the understanding and flexibility for you to decide what is fit for your purpose and the right course of action for yourself.
The module is of direct relevance to people who aspire to start and manage their own firm or small organisation in the social sector. It is also suitable for people who manage innovation or new product units in larger organisations.