Posts tagged: startups

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.

Business Startup Basics

By , January 11, 2014 8:24 am

Okay so it’s still January and below is a link to another list –  this one is good for all times.  The 20 points are all business startup basics. Great post.

I’ll add one point to the list:  21. Protect your intellectual property. Trademark, patent, copyright, trade dress and protect your trade secrets.  Make sure you own your name (Prince vs. the artist formerly known as Prince; Bistro Laurent Tourondal/BLT vs. Café Ruhlmann are just two examples of an artist and chef respectively who have had to fight to keep their name).

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/01/07/20-business-lessons-you-dont-want-to-learn-the-hard-way/#!

 

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

When technology intersects with fashion – you benefit.

By , November 9, 2013 8:17 am

There’s a new tech idea/website that’s been specifically developed for fashion designers (although other businesses can certainly use it).  It seems to be a cross between crowdfunding/sourcing and market testing.  Here’s how it works: A designer posts several new items from their upcoming collection – or variations on one item – for instance the designer could post one item in multiple colors to see which color is the most appealing. The customer, if interested in the item, makes a commitment to purchase it.  When orders reach a minimum number designated by the designer, then the customer is charged and the designer starts production.  If the orders don’t reach that minimum, then the customer is refunded their money and the designer doesn’t produce it.  It’s a fashion variation on the crowdfunding theme.  But this idea goes one step further.

In crowdfunding, you go to a designated crowdfunding website and put up your idea.  Then there’s a huge hurdle which people rarely discuss – marketing. You have to market like hell to get people to go to the crowdfunding site. So you are essentially doing double marketing – first for your own website (assuming you have one) and second to the crowdfunding site.  With this product, you actually overlay the crowdfunding program onto your own website, thus driving people to your website only, which I think is a much more organic way to market yourself (although you will lose the crowdfunding site surfers who might be a source of revenue).

The concept sounds like a total win-win for the customer and for the designer.  It’s a great way for the customer to be not only ahead of the trend but to actually influence the trend – and to be the first wearing a new style.   Customers order their clothes in advance, and designers don’t risk wasting materials and manufacture for a product that isn’t going to sell well, thus avoiding excess inventory and cash flow difficulties among other issues.

So far, Voy-voy, a NY based clothing company, Feit, a shoe and accessories company, and Gustin, a jeans company are all using this new concept.

It’s called Mimoona – to learn more and hear testimonials, visit the site and see if it’s something that will work for you.  http://www.we.mimoona.com/Projects/1443?share=true&reffID=4299.

 

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

Your corporate identity…get it right the first time

By , October 5, 2013 10:13 am

Part 1: Focus on your logo

Every company should start out with minimal corporate IDs or branding – logo, name, tag line (value proposition), design templates and color palettes. There should be a template developed that shows how these items are used (in larger companies, a brand book is created that spells out exactly how sizes, placements, colors etc. are to be used ).

This is the core of your company’s identity. Like a skeleton, it supports your body.  Do it early, and do it correctly. And especially don’t skimp on the fees to get it done.  It’s a lot more difficult to correct a brand identity mistake or direction than to establish it the first time – to make a correction, you will have to re-ID your company, and then spend countless dollars and time on PR to explain why the company has changed its basic identity and to overcome confusion created by this change.

I’ve seen a lot of results from websites where designers bid for the logo work.  Some of it is okay.  Okay is not good enough for your company.  A lot of the results are derivative of other logos, and leftover designs an artist hasn’t sold. Remember, you are going to pay for the result.  Pay one time and get it right and it won’t cost you dollars and time down the road.

So invest the money into a designer or firm who gets you.

When it’s my money, I look for someone who is intuitive about what my client or my company is and what they are trying to do/say to the marketplace (how do you know they are intuitive?  Check out what they’ve done for other people…you’ll get a feel for if they have a feel for their clients).  My designer is one of my company’s secret weapons to success.

An interesting take on designers is expressed in this link:
http://www.manta.com/TOTD/marketing/20131004?referid=16483&su=MT1000787066&uu=511dac7431f24625b3909f94

 

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

Are You A Design Entrepreneur?

By , September 28, 2013 8:21 am

DENYC logo

The second (annual I hope) Design Entrepreneurs NYC program came to an amazing finale Thursday evening September 26 with the announcement of two winners of cash awards of 1st place- $25,000 and 2nd place- $10,000. Becca McCharen owner of CHROMAT (chromatgarments.com) placed first in the business plan competition and Vasumathi Soundararajan (an FIT grad!) of Ken Wroy, Inc. (kenwroy.com) came in second (there were only two places). Kudos to the winners!

Design Entrepreneur Winners 2013

L to R: Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology; Vasumathi Soundararajan, Ken Wroy, Inc.; Becca McCharen, Chromat; Jeanette Nostra, President, G-III Apparel Group.

And kudos to the entire 2013 class of Design Entrepreneurs NYC! Everyone is on their way to growing their companies with freshly minted business plans in their possession.  The intensive mini-MBA program started in June with solid weekend-filled classes and then the entrepreneurs spent their summer, under the guidance of mentors,  working hard writing and refining their business plans. After submitting their business plans, the entrepreneurs waited to hear which ones were selected to present – half of the class of 35.  The presentations, in front of industry judges in four different rooms, narrowed down the field to 4 finalists who then presented in front of all the judges and the 2013 class.  Some of the Judges included: Tim Baxter (EVP & GMM, Macy’s), Morris Goldfarb (CEO, G-III Apparel), Ellen Rodriguez (President & CEO, French Connection), Jeffrey Binder (Consultant, Former Divisional Merchandise Manager, Bloomingdales), and Laurence Leeds, Jr. (Chair, Buckingham Capital).  I was privileged to be a moderator for one of the panels.

So the entrepreneurs are off now to grow their businesses and take them in new directions as a result of this experience.  As well as stay in touch with their classmates, faculty, school and judges.

 

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

Warby Parker talk

By , September 23, 2013 7:58 am

Warby Parker

DIY or hire it out

By , September 14, 2013 9:31 am

Two Sides of the DIY Coin
What every entrepreneur should understand before they Do It Themselves

Side One:  Efficient Use of Your Time
You’re the CEO.  You must figure out the value of your time in general against the value of your time spent against a DIY project.  Is it worth it?
While you are writing the patent and filing it yourself (I know of at least two entrepreneurs that did this, one in fashion, one in tech), six months could easily go by and your business is headless during that time because your energies are focused elsewhere. Can your company really survive without you running it for that length of time?

For more insight on this side of the coin see: http://blog.nyctechconnect.com/2013/08/13/why-am-i-doing-this/

Side Two:  Good Communications Skills

“The only way to get something done right is to do it myself”.  If that’s the way you think, then there’s a problem with the way you are communicating…you aren’t.  Making yourself understood is crucial in business (and every other aspect of your life as well).  Not only with employees and freelancers but with vendors and clients as well. You must be able to make yourself understood to grow your business and to operate it efficiently.  You can’t do everything yourself (I’m sure you’ve seen org charts where every function is “YOU”) or you and your business won’t get very far.

For more insight on this side of the coin see: http://blog.gcsagents.com/2010/10/06/if-you-want-something-done-right-you-can-do-it-yourself-but-if-you-want-a-lot-of-things-done-right-communicate/

 

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

The Press Release — what works, what doesn’t

By , September 7, 2013 10:15 am

Before a fashion designer (and most start-ups these days) will turn to advertising or other traditional forms of marketing these days, they are most likely to use PR first. Why? Because of the broad reach and cost efficiencies PR is capable of delivering.So for those of you first embarking on a PR campaign, or maybe just starting to send press releases, here’s some do’s and don’t’s.

Don’t – Waste the time of the recipient of the Press Release

Spew of a lot of press releases just to make “noise” – they are not appreciated by editors and will not be read and when you have something that’s really important, guess what?  Straight into the trash.
- Noisy press releases include, so-and-so has just joined the firm as CFO.  If so-and-so isn’t well known, it’s not newsworthy
Meander around and tell a long story with the point, or news nugget, at the very end.
- If I gave an example here, you’d be asleep or gone by the time you hit the third line
Assume the recipient understands your industry’s jargon
- Jargon-type press releases include, The CFO of LIMA is a featured speaker on the USPTO IP panel at FSLV.

Do – Get to the bottom line(s) quickly

Create a catchy, SHORT, newsworthy headline which gives the bottom line in it – like a news story headline.
- LVMH Gives Middle Finger To Hermes, Acquires More Shares Despite Enormous Fine
If you have an existing relationship with an editor, separate their press release from the rest and customize it
- Susan, I think this information will be useful to the article you’re preparing
Make sure to put in quotes from key players in the action – it increases likelihood of the quote and point being picked up
- LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault had this to say about the situation….

For other tips, all necessary to create a powerful press release, and to increase your branding, check out the two links below.

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/15014.aspx?goback=.gde_64854_member_266792579#

http://www.nwcphp.org/communications/news/the-nine-components-of-a-press-release

 

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

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