Success with Corporate Sponsors

Success with Corporate Sponsors

Business and Sponsorship Success

Discover How to Fund Your Dreams – Even if You’re Just Starting Out

I Want to Start a Business but I Have No Ideas. How Do I Get Started?

Woman Business Owner

Table of Contents

Your entrepreneurial journey can be exhilarating, intimidating and overwhelming, especially when you’re ready to get started but don’t have clear ideas or too many ideas.

You’re not alone. This is a common hurdle that many entrepreneurs need to face. You’re not only creating a business. You’re the architect of your future lifestyle.

Taking inventory of your personal skills and interests is crucial in providing a valuable foundation for your business.

I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for over 20 years and each time I start a new business, I go through the process that’s outlined here.

The smart entrepreneurs identify a demand and then create a business to satisfy that demand. For instance, McDonalds doesn’t sell hamburgers. They are in the business of serving hungry customers and people who want to feed their families without breaking the bank.

Explore various types of businesses and identify where your passions align with consumer needs. You don’t need to come up with an unprecedented concept. You can refine an existing business idea or find a unique approach to a traditional business. It’s all about observing gaps in the marketplace and how you can fulfill them.

Surprised Man

Don’t Worry If You’re Just Starting Out

I wanted to create a speaking and event business and get corporate sponsors to fund it. I got my first sponsors with no event experience and no fan base. I didn’t have a fancy office. I was working from my kitchen with my cat.

I started going to sponsorship conferences, but I felt completely out of place because the training was for big companies with many employees. They said to have your sales and marketing team implement sponsorship strategies. I looked in the mirror and saw my sales and marketing team.

I realized that there was no training for people just getting started with sponsorship in the idea stage, so I started the Sponsor Secrets Seminar, the only event for emerging sponsor seekers and I haven’t looked back.

When you’re considering your new business, there’s an array of factors to navigate. Networking can provide you with experienced mentorship and, an understanding of the legalities and the standards of your industry.

There are many ways to secure funding and put together your business plan, which is the roadmap for your vision. Remember that successful businesses began with a single step. Apple Computer started with an SBA loan in a garage.

Key Takeaways

  • Asses your personal skills, market demands and the lifestyle you want to create.
  • Your business idea can come from enhancing and offering a twist on existing concepts.
  • Networking, planning and understanding legalities are key to starting your business.
Assessing Your Skills

Assessing Your Skills and Interests

Before diving into your new business, examine your abilities, ambitions and passions. This analysis will crystallize your business concept and increase your business success.

Self Reflection

Begin by asking introspective questions to see where your talents, expertise and passion are.

  • What activities fuel your passion?
  • What tasks are most engaging and gratifying to you?
  • What problem are you the solution to?

Inventory Your Skills

You can evaluate your professional and personal skills using a structured approach.

  1. Technical Skills: These include specific skills, certifications and knowledge.

    • Take an inventory of your computer skills, and design abilities to build or modify a website.
    • Specialized skills such as cybersecurity.
  2. Soft Skills: These are important interpersonal, conversational and relationship-building skills that can be important for business success.
    • Rate yourself in skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, adaptability, resilience and the art of conversation.

Explore Your Interests

Unearth your interests and what gives you satisfaction and pride. You may feel proud after cleaning your home but you wouldn’t want to do it full-time.

  • Create a list of industries and business models that you’re passionate about.
Man Online

Is There a Demand for Your Business?

Before you embark on a business venture, you should understand market demand, which helps you predict the success of your products and services.

Market Research

Market research is the foundation for understanding what your potential customers are looking for. Begin by collecting data on your target demographic, including age, income level, and buying habits. Use tools like:

Researching your market is mission-critical for business success. Collect data on your target demographics which includes hard data such as age range, income, education, diversity, family status and gender mix.

Psychographics are what makes people tick. This includes motivations, pain points, frustrations, influences and buying habits.

Analyze Business Trends

Staying abreast of current and future trends can position your business for success. Trend analysis involves:

Knowing current and future business trends will position you for success. Trend analysis involves:

  • Market Reports: Watch and analyze industry reports and look for trends that will help you.
  • Social Media: Monitor social media for rising topics and conversations.
  • Insights from Experts: Leverage the knowledge of industry thought leaders and market analysts.
Business Group

Exploring Different Industries

When you’re starting a business, identify an industry that you’re passionate about and also demonstrates potential for growth and innovation. Here are some key industries to consider as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.


The technology sector is rapidly evolving and there are great opportunities as diverse as software development to tech gadget creation. There is great demand for mobile apps, coders, artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity.

Health and Wellness

With a growing focus on health, starting a business in health and wellness could be lucrative. This can include nutritional supplements, fitness technologies, or mental health apps. The key is to offer products or services that contribute to improved health outcomes.

The old model of seeing a doctor only when you’re sick is being replaced by proactive health and wellness, to save you from future illnesses and increase longevity. This can be quite lucrative and can include nutritional supplements, fitness technologies, personal training and mental health apps.

Sustainable Solutions

Sustainability is more than a buzzword. It’s a shift in business and lifestyle. This includes earth-friendly products, sustainable packaging, green energy and products to help reduce environmental impact for consumers and future generations.

Educational Services

People love to learn and education is a cornerstone of personal and business development. You have the chance to impact learning outcomes and cater to diverse educational needs.

  • Online Training:  Specialized courses or general education platforms for business and personal development. This includes continuing education for licensed professionals.
  • Educational apps: Interactive learning tools for students and teachers.
  • Tutoring Programs: People can learn at their own pace with customized tutoring and mentorship.

DIY and Home Improvement

The DIY movement and home improvement industry remain strong. You can capitalize on this by offering home renovation services, DIY project kits, or interior design consultancy. Your services can empower homeowners to enhance their living spaces.

The DIY and home improvement industry are so strong they are scorching. You can capitalize on this by offering home renovation services, home project kits, landscape design, organizer or interior design services.

Business People

Building on Existing Ideas

Your business does not have to be original. You can consider building on the type of business that already exists and put your own unique flavor on it. This can enhance current products and services. You can also work with untapped markets or leverage established business models.

Improving Products and Services

Your first option is to take an existing product or service and enhance it. Look for gaps in customer satisfaction and address them.

You can look for an existing product or service and enhance it. Look for gaps in customer satisfaction and address them.

  • Identify a need in the marketplace: Do your research and discover areas of opportunities where customers are frustrated or their needs are not being met.
  • Innovative solutions:  Create improvements that make your products and services more efficient, user-friendly, or cost-effective. Amazon started as a bookstore, a very traditional business, but they made getting the book you want easier because you can order it online and read user reviews.

Don’t Create a Me-Too Business

Me-too businesses are rarely successful. Commodity businesses, such as dry cleaners are considered all the same, so people decide where to go based on price. Be able to tell people how your business is different and better than anything else out there. Most people think there is not much difference between business brands, so you need to let them know your unique selling proposition.

Woman in Business

How to Generate New Ideas

Before you dive into business, develop a solid idea that can be explained with just a few words.

Brainstorming Sessions

Your brainstorming sessions can be magic. I’ve organized my friends and business colleagues on a Zoom call and some of my best ideas. You can do brainstorming in person or online. List out your ideas and let people know there are no judgments. Time each person so that no one monopolizes the conversation and start by reading your mission statement.

My signature event, Sponsor Secrets Seminar, where people learn about funding from sponsors, was the result of a brainstorming session.

  1. Choose your focus: Don’t try to do too much in your brainstorming session. Choose an idea or topic. Too many areas of discussion can become confusing.
  2. No criticism: Allow all ideas, even seemingly outlandish ones. Allow all ideas without judgment. When the Disney company did their brainstorming sessions, people could be expelled for rolling their eyes because it could hamper creativity.
  3. Build on ideas: Have someone as a notetaker or create a summary with artificial intelligence (AI).
  4. Aim for quantity. Create a long list of everybody’s feedback and refine it later.
Smiling group of diverse colleagues working together in an office

Techniques to Boost Your Creative Thinking

Here are some strategies to stimulate out-of-the-box thinking.

  • Mind Mapping: Start with a central concept and draw branches to related ideas. This is a visual diagram where one concept branches out into other creative ideas.
  • Different Business Hats: Metaphorically, looking at things from many different perspectives which symbolize emotions, facts, caution, creativity, management, investment quality and optimism.

Your Financial Projection

  • Revenue Streams: You want multiple streams of income in your business and the financial projection outlines them.
  • Expense Forecast: Think about and list all of your startup costs as well as the recurring and variable expenses for your business. For instance, your lease payment is the same every month, so that is a recurring cost. Your utility bills are variable expenses.
  • Break-Even Analysis: How long will it take for your business to cover all of your expenses and turn a profit?

Competitive Analysis

  • Direct Competitors: These are the businesses that offer similar products or services. There are other competitive forces in the marketplace. A plumber might be competing with someone who likes DIY and fixing their own plumbing.
  • Competitive Edge: This is your unique selling proposition and how your business rises above the competition.
  • Market Position: Describe where your business will fit into the current marketplace.
7 Selling Strategies from the Wealthy Bag Lady

Business Planning and Development

Focusing on planning and development is crucial. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

  1. Key Partnerships: Identify strategic partnerships and suppliers you will need. What strategic alliances, vendors and sponsors do you need?
  2. Cost Structure: This is a breakdown of the costs involved in operating your business.

What is Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the basic version of your product that allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. It should have the core features needed to meet the needs of your customers.

  • Identify core functions and solutions that offer brilliant solutions for your clients.
  • Test these core functions.
  • Analyze the feedback.

Your goal is not to launch a perfect product, but to initiate the cycle of learning from actual usage. When Sara Blakeley started Spanx, a line of body shapers for women, she went to craft stores and used her own sewing machine.

Business Man

Go-to-Market Strategy

Your Go-to-Market Strategy is your tactical action plan and it outlines the steps necessary for success.

  • Target Market: Define the audience and their demographics and psychographics.
  • Pricing Strategy: How will you do your pricing: Competitive, gross margin or pricing based on your lifestyle and how much money you want to make.
  • Sales and Marketing Channels: Select the best ways to reach your target customers.
  • Success Metrics: What are your clear and measurable goals from entering the market to creating profitability?

Mentorship and Networking

Attending business events and making connections with potential clients, referral partners, and mentors will fast-track your business success. Have your elevator pitch ready, but don’t just give a talking commercial when you meet someone. Ask them meaningful questions and have a networking follow-up plan.

Industry Events

Attend industry-specific conferences, trade shows, and seminars to meet potential mentors, partners, and customers. These venues are fertile grounds for:

When I started my business, I was the seminar queen. I would go to events after work and on the weekends. Sometimes there was a “Round Robin” where people gave their business pitch to the entire room. If you’re anxious about speaking in public, check out the National Speakers Association for tips about getting rid of the butterflies.

Online Forums and Communities

Utilize the digital platforms for people in your industry as well as online forums where your target customers hang out.

  • Ask questions and seek advice from experienced members. Ask questions and seek advice from seasoned professionals
  • Share your knowledge. This establishes you as a thought leader and creates celebrity expert status.

Find a Mentor

Securing a mentor is all about consulting with someone at a higher level with more experience.

  1. Identify the thought leaders that you respect with great reviews.
  2. Reach out directly to them and make sure they are easy to talk with. You may need to pay for their consultation services, and investing in yourself pays off exponentially.
Diverse Office Meeting

Funding Your Business

Many businesses fail because of under-capitalization, so securing the right funding is critical. The financing vehicles you choose should align with your business goals and financial situation.


This approach is low-risk in terms of debt but requires you to have sufficient personal savings. You retain full control, but growth may be slower without significant capital. This is one of the most popular funding strategies of startups. You can use your own savings, credit card loans and love loans from family and friends. Bootstrapping is advantageous because you retain full control of your business.

Venture Capital and Investors

Acquiring venture capital involves pitching your business idea to investors. It’s a competitive field suited for high-growth startups. Critical steps include: Acquiring venture capital involves pitching your business idea to investors. Think of the show Shark Tank. You either pay the money back with interest or give equity in your business. If you have a high-growth business, the investors may get a return on investment with a stock offering.

  • Create a compelling business plan.
  • Deliver a compelling pitch.
  • Have a follow-up system for your investors.

Small Business Loans and Grants

: Small loans and grants are great for businesses.

  • Small Business Loans: These are offered by banks and sometimes repayment is guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
  • Grants: These are funding instruments that you don’t need to pay back and they favor non-profits and often have strict criteria.


Sponsorship is connecting a company to people who buy things. It’s money you don’t need to pay back and you need to show a sponsor how you will promote them and connect them to their core consumers.

Sponsorship is all about marketing, so tell them details about your demographics and psychographics as well as how you will get the word out and promote your sponsor companies.

Explore these pathways to determine the best funding strategies for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I discover a business idea that aligns with my interests, skills and the life I want to create?

Identify your professional skills, expertise and passions. Be sure to research similar businesses and interview other business owners. Think about the lifestyle you want to create. A brick-and-mortar business is great but it may tie you down. If you want to do a lot of travel, this may not be the business for you.

What are the first steps to take in finding the right business for me?

Access your strengths and expertise. You don’t need to be good at everything. I hate doing data entry, so I hired someone who loves it.

What strategies can help me generate a profitable business with minimal investment?

You can focus on what you’re already good at. Starting a service-based business takes less initial capital than a product or technology business. The break-even analysis could help you here and remember that many successful businesses started with low overhead.

How do I conduct market research to find a viable business opportunity? How can I do market research?

There are many online survey sites such as Survey Monkey. You can always do a Google or Facebook ad before starting your business to see if there is a demand.

What resources or tools can assist me in developing a business concept when I’m starting from scratch?

There are so many tools that can help you including business plan software, online courses, small business development centers and structured business planning tools. You can also use your favorite Internet search tools and social media to see profitable business models

Linda Hollander
Article Written By:
Linda Hollander has been featured by Inc. Magazine as the leading expert on corporate sponsorship. She is the CEO of Sponsor Concierge, the author of Corporate Sponsorship in 3 Easy Steps, and the founder of the Sponsor Secrets Seminar. Her corporate sponsors have included Citibank, Fed Ex, Health Net, American Airlines, Bank of America, Staples, Wal-Mart, and IBM. She consults with businesses on how to increase their profits and get sponsors. https://SponsorConcierge.com
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Discover your next corporate sponsor with Sponsor Concierge and Linda Hollander