Posts tagged: fundraising

Are you a successful business?

By , March 22, 2014 9:15 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:
 
1.       Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2.       Showing they know how to grow their business

3.       Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.
 
Point number 3 – Demonstrating profitability and ROI. A lot of startups get lost here.  They don’t realize that you have to invest/spend money in order to make money – Lie #4 – I have to show a profit before I can market.  Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see if you’re profitable or when you are predicting profitability (break even and beyond).  And tossing some money out willy-nilly at marketing efforts will never bring ROI into your company…you have to be strategic in how you market.

Here’s some definitions and formulas for calculating ROI and profitability:
http://www.dbmarketing.com/articles/Art129.htm


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are you a successful business?

By , March 15, 2014 8:33 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:

1. Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2. Showing they know how to grow their business

3. Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.

Point number 2 – showing you know how to grow your business is key to not only getting funding but to keeping your business healthy. This is something that many startups and small businesses don’t focus on. They say cash is king and “they” are right. Sometimes companies become very successful very quickly and can’t handle it. Prepared for growth. By managing your cash flow you can set goals to grow your business, manage cash on a monthly basis and get a clear picture of what’s going on in your business. Make sure you understand all the financing options available to you – traditional as well as alternative and invoice factoring.

Don’t put your entire business at risk because of something that’s easy to plan for and track.

Here’s some interesting related points:

http://www.alleywatch.com/2014/02/5-red-flags-of-startups/?utm_source=AlleyWatch+Daily+Pulse&utm_campaign=c1ae92d926-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e01c347085-c1ae92d926-62886025


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are you a successful business?

By , March 8, 2014 9:26 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:

1.       Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2.       Showing they know how to grow their business

3.       Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.

Point number 1 – gaining customers is something that many startups and small businesses don’t focus on. They fall into my Lie #1 – If I build it, they will come.  Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see where your market is – are you marketing?  And startups, even marketing startups, often get lost in this space.  Ask yourself:  Would I invest in a company that can’t show me their market?  The customers lined up to buy the product as soon as it’s available?  A list of beta-testers?  ANY INTEREST AT ALL?

More and more I’m seeing startups and small businesses flounder in this area.  Forget for the moment Michael Moore’s crossing the chasm…these businesses aren’t even getting the early adopters.  Take heed and show the market interest.

Here’s some interesting related points:

http://www.alleywatch.com/2014/02/5-red-flags-of-startups/?utm_source=AlleyWatch+Daily+Pulse&utm_campaign=c1ae92d926-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e01c347085-c1ae92d926-62886025


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Pitching Perfect: Fundraising fashion right now – The One Page Pitch

By , August 24, 2013 9:27 am

For years start-ups have been sending investors and other potential funding sources their business plans. With more and more start-ups pitching these days, and funders having less and less time to review them all, a new trend is emerging about how to approach funders.  It’s the one-page pitch. Get to the point immediately.   Here are some basic questions the answers to which should be included:

·         What’s the problem?
·         How are you solving it?
·         Who’s your customer?
·         How will your solution make money (your business model)?
·         What stage is your company in right now?
·         How much money are you looking for?
·         What are you going to do with the funds?
·         What’s the payback horizon and how much return will the funder get on their investment?

What’s really good about the one-page pitch is that it can be a significant way to force you to clarify, condense and articulate your ideas.

John Ason, an angel investor, often speaks about the one-page pitch:  he has approximately 1-3 minutes to look at your idea. And it had all better be on that one page. And not single spaced with no white space on the page. If it’s not visually inviting, he won’t read it. John always offers very pointed and amusing illustrations of how he wants to invest. When asked what John looks for in a management team, his answer includes passion but he also says the combined age of the two principals should not be more than his age.  Another, related to return on investment, is that the payout should not extend past his lifetime – his event horizon (as is that of many investors) is a 10x earnings return on his investment in a reasonable time frame (usually less than five years).

To learn more about John, how he works, what he looks for when investing, what he’s invested in etc.
http://www.johnason.com/

Check out Martin Zwilling’s post on pitching angel investors – BTW these points hold true for VC and other pitches as well.
http://www.alleywatch.com/2013/08/10-guidelines-for-pitching-angel-investors/?goback=.gde_3032640_member_267586133#

Here’s a first time funder’s story
http://viniciusvacanti.com/2013/04/16/lessons-learned-raising-6-million/

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

A Tale of How Successfully Raising Capital Leads to Bankruptcy

By , May 11, 2013 9:36 am

This is the title of an article just published in The New York Law Journal (I’m one of the authors).  It’s a cautionary tale about fundraising.  It gives relevant details about the JOBS act and how that applies to fundraising – and it’s not the panacea many are mistakenly making it out to be.

It’s also about losing focus on the prize – moving your business forward – while distracted by the dazzle – the allure or promise of raising capital any way you can.  The article details what’s legal and not legal in the world of raising money for your company.  I hope you use it as a guide to do your fundraising the correct way so you can avoid the fate and outcomes (jail time?) of this unfortunate company.

http://holtzmancom.com/teamwork_latest_news.php

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Don’t Overlook This Important Key to Fundraising.

By , January 19, 2013 8:18 am

If I build it they will come.

This is the title of the first chapter in my book, “Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.”  The chapter basically deals with the idea that if you aren’t sitting around waiting for the latest “thing” (fashion, technology, gismo, app etc) to walk through your door and land in your lap, then chances are about 100% that no one else is either.

Here’s a variation on this theme that’s dedicated to fundraising and a key aspect to fundraising that a lot of entrepreneurs and startup businesses fail to recognize.  Or if they recognize it, the concept is so foreign to them that they can’t even get their minds around it.  And that’s the issue of scaling.  When you build your business and business plan, if you are planning to raise money, then building it is not enough. The money won’t come. Why not? Because most startups and entrepreneurs don’t recognize the value of scaling their company –the value to them but more importantly the value  to the investor.

Often the first question an investor will ask is ‘how fast can I get a return on my investment?’ And they don’t mean dollar-for-dollar.  They mean $10 for every dollar.  If you don’t show them plans to scale the company, then you can’t answer that question.  If you can’t give a map (or better yet a spread sheet showing the exact details like timeframe, expenses, projections to profitability, personnel and equipment being brought on), then you’re probably in a lot of trouble.  If I’m investing in your company, why would I want to give you money unless I’m going to see the company grow (“scale”) and give me multiple times back my investment. If you’re a one or two person shop determined to keep it that way, then that just isn’t going to happen. Those kind of companies are called “lifestyle” companies, where the entrepreneur is making a success just for themselves. Big difference (see http://thinktraffic.net/startup-vs-lifestyle-business) .  You may get investors, but it’s that much more difficult. You are more likely going to be eligible for a bank loan than investment.

Some issues around scaling, such as when is the right time to scale and do you scale out or deep are discussed by Geri Stengel in her Ventureneer blog (http://ventureneer.com/vblog/business-plan-nonprofit-growth-planning-scale).  Don’t let the fact that Geri deals with non-profits scare you off – these tips work for profit companies as well.  Other tips can be found on CNN’s blog “Pop Quiz: Is Your Business Scalable?” (http://www.inc.com/karl-and-bill/pop-quiz-is-your-business-scalable.html) .

Important tip to remember:  “If I scale it, they WILL come.”

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Crowd Funding and YOU? Or Not?

By , February 11, 2012 8:21 am

Crowd Funding has been around for a while. In very simple terms, you sign up with a crowd funder (such as Kickstarter), list how much money you want to raise for your project, company, etc. and then use social networking to get people you know and others to contribute. This is in addition to people who will visit the site looking for interesting projects. If you reach your goal you get your money. If you don’t, you don’t.

The good news about crowd funding for your business is that you don’t have to give up a percentage of your business to the contributors – when you use other fundraising methods, you always have to give up a percentage of your business as well as a percentage of control. Because of the good will involved with those who make crowd funding contributions, many people who are raising money offer something in return (like a product sample, a coupon, admission to a film screening if you’re making a film, etc.).

It’s a great process if you succeed. In order to succeed, however, you may have to give up huge chunks of time you would normally be devoting to your company.

The bad news is that crowd funding is not regulated officially so there’s ample room for fraud. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU DEAL WITH. If you decide to investigate and use this route, make sure you go with a known name like Kickstarter.

This link will provide a good primer on crowd funding and other information that you may find of help.

http://www.technologyinthearts.org/2011/12/crowdfunding-for-the-arts/

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

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