Resources Hub

A pool of helpful tools and resources to support founders and changemakers along their business development journey. An iterative process where you will be continually exploring, questioning, listening, learning and improving your idea.

Start at the beginning

Why is this important?

Great ideas stem from solving problems that are worthy to be solved.  

42% of startups fail due to no market need. 

Here we provide some tools and insights that will help you explore and understand the problem before then moving forwards.  Even without a problem, you can develop your enterprising skills so that you are well-positioned when a problem you are passionate about presents itself.


Problem First

Understanding what the problem to be solved is a crucial first step.  Knowing what the problem is and why it is a problem will lead you to identifying the root cause which will in turn become the 'thing' to solve.

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Enterprising skills

Being enterprising is crucial whether you start a venture or join an existing organisation.  Identifying, developing and reflecting on key skills is an important part of becoming more enterprising.  The Sheffield Graduate Attributes provide a great starting point with which to work from in tandem with the mySkills platform.

Explore the attributes... 


What is this and why do it?

Ideation is the process of generating ideas in order to solve a problem and communicate this to others.

In order to develop a quality idea, you should start by understanding the problem you are trying to solve. Once you develop a greater understanding of the problem then start coming up with a variety of ideas that would solve them. For students, try researching the problem and market using these tools that are available through the University.

These resources will give you an understanding of the ideation process and the tools to ultimately design a product or service that solves the customer's problem(s).



An innovation framework that starts with focusing on the problem and helps users through the ideation process. Start with the IDEAS part of the framework and then move on to the CLEAR part of the framework later on. This model is developed by UoS academic Kamal Birdi also available as an app.


Value Proposition Canvas

A very well-known tool that enables you to assess how your product or service provides value to your customer. Canvas template: Value Proposition Canvas (Strategyzer)


What is this and why do it?

Validation is the process of determining the need for your business, by identifying and challenging assumptions that have been made early on.

In developing an effective business it’s essential that you are able to clearly define your target market and use their experiences to inform how you design your business. By empathising and understanding the challenges that customers face, a strong evidence-based foundation can be built.  This foundation is key to the process of validation enabling you to build a business that is more likely to succeed.  Validation is an iterative process that you should always do as your business grows, changes, and innovates.

The most effective way to validate is by talking to potential customers. Here are a number of tools to help you conduct primary research (e.g. interviews and surveys) that are unbiased and develop a strong understanding of the market.


The Mom Test

The Mom Test — How to talk to customers and learn if your business idea is good or not.  A hugely valuable resource that will get you honest answers directing you towards learning and improving efficiently.


Interview Tips from LIFFFT

The Rules for Customer Interviews (LIFFFTInc) — A succinct set of rules to use when forming the basis for your market research and interview questions.


LIFFFT Questioning Examples

Good and Bad Examples of Customer Interview Questions (LIFFFTInc) - Like the mom test, this helpful resource shares how to form strong, insightful questions to capture the information you really need.


Key Players

Identifying partners and potential customers — Using Google (or other search engines) identify potential partners/customers working in your industry/area of interest. Capture these in a list, which can be used to connect with and add to as your idea develops.


Student Accessible Tools

Market research tools — A collection of resources available through the University that will provide you with valuable insights into potential customers and competitors across a range of industries (please note this requires a University of Sheffield email account to access).

Additional Resources

Keen to keep reading and learning?  Why not have a look at these resources: