Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings...Before You Take the Leap

Financial Times
Thomas K. McKnight  
Total pages
September 2003
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Will It Fly? How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings...Before You Take the Leap
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Will it fly? That's the #1 question facing everyone with a new business idea. Now, there's a systematic way to answer that question ahead of time--before you invest one dime. Will It Fly? introduces the Innovator's Scorecard, the first intuitive, practical tool for assessing and refining new business ideas. Created by one of the world's leading entrepreneurial consultants, this is the fastest and most confidential way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your proposed business. Thomas McKnight's Innovator's Scorecard addresses 44 key facets of business success, from market demand to competition, pricing to management competence, finance to exit strategies. For every element, readers learn what to evaluate, how important it is, how to uncover the necessary information, and how to improve their score. By answering these questions, readers can fine-tune their idea to reduce their risks; protect family and friends from losing money; quickly evaluate dozens of new ideas; and dramatically improve their odds of success.


  • Introducing the Innovator's Scorecard, the first intuitive, easy-to-use scorecard for assessing and improving new business ideas.
  • Covers every facet of entrepreneurial success: product, competition, pricing, strategy, management, finance, operations, even exit strategies.
  • By a world-renowned entrepreneurial consultant who has worked with more than 200 startups.

Table of Contents


I. Overview.

II. Elements Of The Scorecard.

Element 1. Compelling Unserved Need.

Element 2. Explainable Uniqueness.

Element 3. Sustainable Differentiation.

Element 4. Demonstrable Now.

Element 5. Good Competition.

Element 6. Bad Competition.

Element 7. Compelling Pricing Possible.

Element 8. Closable Customers.

Element 9. Quality of Evidence of Demand.

Element 10. Ahead of the Market.

Element 11. Ambush Exposure.

Element 12. “Hot Market”.


Element 13. Attitude of Confidence and Fearlessness.

Element 14. Commitment.

Element 15. Staying Power.

Element 16. Passion.

Element 17. Management Competence.

Element 18. Honesty and Integrity.

Element 19. Success Ethic.

Element 20. Looking Good in the Lobby.


Element 21. Cash Flowing Now.

Element 22. Revenue Model That Swamps Costs.

Element 23. Delivery Advantages.

Element 24. Resources Available.

Element 25. Preemption and Domination.

Element 26. Strategy to Penetrate Market.

Element 27. Strategy for Breaching the Chasm.

Element 28. Proprietary Ownership.

Element 29. Partnering Candidates.

Element 30. Appropriateness of Location.

Element 31. Quality of the Backup Plan.

Element 32. Unfair Advantages.


Element 33. Manageable Capital Requirements.

Element 34. Low Cash Required Before Launch.

Element 35. Visible Capital.


Element 36. High Potential Value.

Element 37. Foreseeable Harvest.


Element 38. Taboo.

Element 39. Lack of Showstoppers.

Element 40. Pretending Not To Know.


Element 41. High Profile Persons Available.

Element 42. Punchy, Compelling Story.


Element 43. Government Relevance.

Element 44. Low Hanging Fruit.

Conclusion of the Coin-Operated Laundry.

@PARTHEAD = III. The Scorecard and Beyond.

Game Caution.


Appendix I. Orion Satellite Corporation.

Appendix II. PTAT System, Inc..

Appendix III. Creative Destruction.

Appendix IV. Innovators Scorecard.

Appendix V. Coin-Operated Laundry Example.

About the Author.


Back Cover

Will your new business idea fly? Find out upfront, before you invest one dime! Will It Fly? introduces the first intuitive, practical tool for assessing and refining new business ideas. Fast, confidential, and reliable, it addresses 44 key elements of success, distilling experience from more than 200 business launches. Use it to fine-tune your idea... protect yourself and your investors... quickly evaluate multiple options... and dramatically improve your odds of success. Indispensable for every entrepreneur, investor, and advisor... even corporate planners and 'intrapreneurs'!


THOMAS K. McKNIGHT has coached 200+ business launches, helping entrepreneurs develop organizational infrastructure, plan for emerging technologies and intellectual property creation, project cash flow requirements and contingencies, and analyze potential return and valuations. McKnight draws upon 29 years' successful experience as Chairman, CEO, VP, and Consultant in both large companies and start-up/early-stage ventures. At Gannett, he helped to launch USA Today, the largest new venture in the history of print journalism. His background includes time at Smith Barney, the White House, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Marine Corps. He holds a B.S. in Business from Miami University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University.