“Gear Up” is for Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, and anyone else who helps them bring a new business opportunity to life.

What makes some business ideas flourish while others whither and die? What components should you focus on when defining a new idea or sharpening an existing one? What is the single, most important element that absolutely must work for a business to succeed? (careful — that Was a trick question!)
If you are planning to pursue a fresh business opportunity or grow an existing one, you may be looking for some answers. Gear Up can help. Use this guide to determine whether a new business idea is worth your time, or to decide whether to push ahead with your current business opportunity or toss the old plan and develop something even bigger and better than you first envisioned.Gear Up does not offer solutions to specific problems. Rather, it is a tool for assessing the needs of your particular situation. Your responses to the questions raised in each chapter summary will create an outcome, a strategy, 
that is unique for you. Think of this book as your personal trainer: It will help you define a training program based on your objectives, but you will need to put in the hours at the gym yourself. It will tell you to do the push-ups, but it will not do them for you. If you stick with it, the payoff for your dedication will be worth it.

As you work with the program, you will learn to leverage your most precious possessions: your relationships, reputation, talent, time, and money.Gear Up is intended to help entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and executives responsible for deciding which new ideas are worth pursuing. It is the result of a joint effort between entrepreneurs and academics, and every recommendation in the book has been tested in the trenches by executives around the world.But Gear Up is also a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate students. The academic roots of the Gear Up model can be found in Harvard University and Stanford University, and the book is already in use at Stanford and in the Stockholm School of Economics MBA program.

First there is confusion.

Tackling a fresh business opportunity and starting a new venture have something in common: confusion. You don’t know where you’re going, the risk seems enormous, and the idea might not even work. You want to test it, but you’re not sure if you have the guts and patience to try, and there are no short cuts.

Then there is structure.

But that’s the nature of the beast. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” In fact, many entrepreneurs believe that the first heady rush of plunging into a new venture is the best part of the whole process. So, take heart! Gear Up will guide the development of your business opportunity by helping you create a customer acquisition–centric strategy. As you begin to follow the program, you’ll discover that there is indeed a supporting structure amidst the confusion, and your path to success will emerge.

Structure Your thinking.

So what are the gears that you’re supposed to “gear up” with, anyway? There are nine of them, and they represent the most critical components for launching a high-potential company. They are customers, delight, customer acquisition, business model, partners, competitors, go global, team, and reality check. You don’t have to go through the gears in any particular order, but you do have to go through all of them and make sure that they are in sync. If you have done that, and you find that you still have the passion to cure your customers’ pain, then you will know that your business opportunity is worth pursuing.

Then there is structure.

Here’s how it works: You need customers — usually a lot of them! — and the ones you want to attract are those with a particular “pain” that your product or service can get rid of. For that you need a unique delight, which is some wonderful thing about your product that distinguishes it from your competitors’ offerings. But that is not enough! You also need a method of customer acquisition and a sustainable business model. The three gears of delight, customer acquisition, and business model together make up your sales formula.

As your business begins to grow, you will most likely need to find the right partners. And since you are not launching your venture in a vacuum, you will have to handle competitors who are perhaps tougher, more experienced, and better funded than you are. If your business really takes off, you will go global and take care of customers with pains all over the world. Last —but certainly not least!— is your team, which is the linchpin for innovating, delivering, and challenging other companies in all the gears.

People with exceptional talent and the ability to deliver will become the heart of your business, and you won’t get anywhere without them. Just make sure you do a reality check once in a while to stay on track.

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