Business and Start-Up Funding

Business

How to Get Angel Investors Interested: The idea is to have a sound business model that can be demonstrated by a business plan to have merit with goals of actions on how the model will get to point A to B with the funds provided by the angel investor or venture capital.

1: Have a concept, service, or style of doing business that is new or disruptive to the industry. This can be a service product or even an existing one, creating a unique advantage over the competition. If it is something more standard like investing in a flipping house, you can find how you may be unique to other house flippers. If you want an investor for a franchise, you can give work experience or know how to set you on top with location and research invested into the franchise, so it shows it can be a success from the start.

2: Invest in a Business Plan and Pitch Deck. Investors and banks like to see you have some plan to get from point A to B and an exit strategy for the investors’ money. Business Plans can organize your startup or exist by including major elements like Mission Statements, Distribution Channels, Corporate Structure, Marketing Research, and Financial Proformas. Pitch Decks are the visual aid that can paint a picture and a concept flow in a digital format.

3: Don’t price yourself out of the deal, but don’t give in too much. Any Angel Investors know it has to be a win-win. So, spend time wisely getting some model company financial comparisons and values on how the new capital will create a new deal on the business once everything is in place and moving.

4: Chose your platform for getting your pitch out there: You can go with crowdfunding, which can be very effective in some ways. You can raise many investors but also risk not meeting your capital requirements. You can choose a platform with only accredited investors and reach out with a posting and support. This can effectively see profiles available of investors in the industry and reach out directly or through the platform, depending on the forum. This can effectively raise capital from only one source and help provide valuable synergy and even external promotion of your new business.

Planning and patience are essential when pitching an Investor or Venture Capital. Even down markets and economies can be the best time to launch. You may get more interest and less competition as investors are looking to make equity stakes in the following future successes!

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A Guide to Implement Digital Transformation for your Small Business

transformation

In this rapidly changing world, everything is shifting towards digitization, and businesses are also transforming their operations through technology to provide more reliable, timely, and convenient solutions to their customers. Digital transformation of small businesses will help provide better customer services, product development, and innovation in different aspects of the company.

Small businesses in their early phase can leverage this opportunity by implementing digital transformation as this will not require much effort compared to any established business. Transformation into the digital industry is not just about implementing the IT systems and installing applications; instead, it’s a cultural shift that completely changes things.

A recent example is the catastrophic disaster “COVID-19” that has changed all the ways of doing things and created the urgency to develop businesses that would operate digitally. Companies that will not adopt cutting-edge technology and transformation will risk losing their market share and will be left behind.

Before coming to the actual ways of transformation, let me first highlight the numerous benefits that small businesses can enjoy after digitization.

  • The transformation will help the organization in better decision-making by making available accurate and reliable data of every segment with the help of analytic tools. These tools also assist in collecting customers’ data that can help marketers make well-informed decisions. These valuable tools are also beneficial for both managerial and strategic level positions.
  • Large Organizations always put tremendous efforts into fulfilling customers’ expectations. Therefore, adopting or integrating technology into your business process will add immense value to the product that will fulfill customers’ needs and help small businesses to grab the market share before their competitors.
  • Companies that undergo the process of digitization improve profitability and reduce costs by cutting off their irrelevant expenditures. According to SAP, 80% of the businesses implementing digital transformation report increased profits. These profits can also be used for the future expansion of trade and more advancements in technology to have an edge on competitors.
  • Valuable tools and devices have reduced the hassle of maintaining employees’ attendance, salaries details, and stock management and increased the coordination between various units. Providing employees with the right tools can streamline workflow and improve productivity. Automating tasks using AI tools will integrate data throughout the business and promote a digital culture that increases collaboration and encourages transparency in the workplace.

Interestingly, most small business owners are making efforts to make digital transformation a vital component of their organizations. They need an excellent strategy to digitize their most critical business operations and start making huge profits.

Whether you are running a small business setup or just getting started and want to transform your business digitally, a well-established strategy and a well-designed plan can help you get the most out of your efforts and investment.

Here are the six steps to successfully implement digital transformation for your small business

Involve every level of the organization in the change process

To make digitization successful, it is vital to have a strong vision and the right culture in the organization that embraces digital initiatives and encourages employees in this transformation process.

It is also essential to consider your staff concerns since many employees feel threatened by the implementation of technology and automation. Many business owners have faced the challenging task of tackling employees resisting digital transformation change.

To get out of this resistance from employees towards change, demonstrate the benefits of the technology and provide necessary training to your team. Empower them to use technology to achieve their life goals.

Empower employees with the Data-Driven Decisions

Data recreates a vital role in the decision-making process. Hence, it must be accurate. Educate your team regarding how to extract data using different analytics tools and make decisions out of it.

Accurate insights regarding customers will help you understand exactly what the customer wants. Then, your product development team can design the relevant products and services to fulfill the customer’s expectations.

Ensure smooth integration of Business Systems

All business systems should communicate smoothly to streamline operations, automate workflows, and increase efficiency.

The actual point comes when you Integrate all business applications (e.g., Finance, Procurement, customer services, and operations). Then, it allows you to enhance collaborations between various departments and make a customer-centric organization.

Cloud computing makes it very smooth for small businesses to connect various applications simultaneously. It allows you to streamline workflow and manage different business functions simultaneously.

Approach and collaborate with IT Consultants

Mainly at the initial stage, businesses don’t have a large budget to hire a large IT team. Instead, you can outsource most IT tasks to maximize your resources. The first target would be to focus on areas that are the backbone of business and gradually increase investing more when your business starts to grow.

Try to work with consultants that provide in-budget solutions compatible with your company’s existing infrastructure. They should also help you identify areas that generate a high Return on Investment.

Customer Care must be the top priority

We always heard that the customer is always right. Take their views about your product and service because there is always room for improvement. Customer feedback is an essential element that encourages you to improve your product and add more features that help you to stand out.

Make a Website for your customers’ convenience, where they can view different products offered by you, make purchases and give feedback that ultimately persuades other customers to make a purchase.

The biggest challenge for business owners is to make sure the data management and security protocols remain in sync. Data protection requires IT solutions and strategic business initiatives due to the strict regulatory requirements and may face harmful consequences in a data breach.

In the end, evaluate and highlight areas where technology can help you make an impact. As a business leader, keep in mind your primary goal and create a culture for continuous learning, collaboration, advancement towards digitization, and innovation in every area that requires transformation. All of the above factors can make your goal of digital transformation achievable.

Funded.com is the leading platform for accredited investors network worldwide. We monitor and provide updates on important funding events. Angel Investors and Venture Funding can be a key growth for a startup or existing business. Whether it is a first, second or third round financing having a strategic alliance with an Angel Investor or Venture Capital financing can propel a business to the next level and give the competitive edge.

Sales Estimates in Business Plans – Getting Them Right to Avoid Failure

Plans

Chances are this is not your first business plans if you are considering starting a new business. Studies have shown that today’s successful entrepreneurs have tried 3 or 4 times before to start a business sales. Sharing that information is not meant to be discouraging though. It’s meant to be motivating because true entrepreneurs don’t give up easily.

In fact, you may like to know that Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft in 1981 after 3 prior failed business attempts. The 3 failed attempts were The Lakeside Programmers Group in 168, Traf-O-Data in 1970 and Micro-Soft partnership in 1975. In reality, the 3 failed companies were not failures at all in one very important sense. These 3 companies taught Gates and Allen a lot about business planning and development. They used that information to start Microsoft, Inc. and the rest is history as they say.

One of the strategies for managing a new business venture is the business plan. Because it forces the entrepreneur to identify sales specifics so that investors are comfortable providing equity, loans or other capital. The entrepreneur should also consider a graceful exit should the business not succeed as planned. Though you would not present a business destined to fail to investors, the people you are asking for money also want to know how their investment will be protected as much as possible.

When developing sales projections for the business plans, it’s important to go through each step with due diligence. It begins with a product or service description, followed by a market study. A sales estimate is calculated which drives needed production capacity. The needed production capacity then drives facilities planning and workforce estimates. Finally, the financial analysis is calculated.

One of the issues to be addressed in the business plan is the timing of sales growth. This is where entrepreneurs often get too optimistic. The end result is disappointed investors and a failed first, second or third venture. Sales projections need to be as realistic as possible because inflated numbers don’t do anyone any good. The business plan needs to tell an honest story and that will greatly increase your chances of getting the new business right the first time.

 

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Ready to Compete Globally? Time to Find Investors!

Globally

More and more businesses are looking for investors to fund a global expansion. More and more investors are looking for businesses ready to go globally. The business landscape is changing rapidly, and small businesses are expanding internationally right along with the big corporations. The internet can probably be named as the primary motivator for this trend because it made it so easy to communicate with people around the world. Orders can be placed with a click of the mouse. Governments recognized the opportunities this created and have created laws and regulations that promote global business.

Naturally, investors want a piece of the action. They are looking for companies that can successfully expand through globalization because the opportunities are unlimited. Of course, participating in international trade can be expensive so it’s not a decision made lightly. Yet there are so many advantages to expanding internationally that it makes sense.

What are those advantages? For one thing, a business can increase sales and thus profits which makes the company more attractive to investors. Other reasons include gaining greater market share, spreading risk by expanding market access, stabilizing seasonal sales cycles and establishing a foundation for unlimited growth. All of these reasons are exactly what can make a business attractive to investors.

Of course, expanding globally takes money. There are import and export fees, expanded production costs, higher shipping costs and the expenses associated with new promotions like marketing and travel. Investors will balance the higher costs to the expected increase in revenues and profits before making a decision. Investors will also weigh the risks associated with the global expansion. This balancing act though is one that the business should have already mastered in the business plan.

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Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid

Plan

Writing your business plan is probably one of the most important business duties you will assume. If you follow a quality business plans template you will cover the basics of the plans, but there are still common mistakes made by entrepreneurs that hurt their cause. It is reminiscent of the teacher in school who gave you the parts of the essay for easy outlining and then marks points off because the essay is too long or too boring.

Following are some of the most common errors made in business plans. Some of them are simple errors, but that doesn’t minimize their importance. Other are mistakes usually made due to lack of experience. Either way, these mistakes can hurt the effectiveness of the overall business plan.

  • Including more than one business model in the false belief that more information and more strategies are always better (not true!)
  • Lacking cohesiveness throughout the business plans
  • Difficult to read due to illogical or poor layout (another reason to use a business plan template)
  • Including unsupported projections or estimates
  • Not fully analyzing the competition
  • Failing to prepare all required sections of a business plans (making your plan look amateurish or as if you are hiding something)
  • No value proposition separating your business from the competition
  • Not letting anyone else read your business plan and provide feedback before submission
  • Making the business plan difficult to read because it is written using mostly hard-to-understand industry or discipline terms (i.e. your funder may not know much about technology so using technical jargon will make the plan too difficult to understand)
  • Showing lack of understanding of the niche market to be served

These are certainly not the only mistakes, but they are some of the most common. You want to avoid writing a business plan that is too long and tedious, is not well written, and is boring. Though funders are often professionals looking for the next great business investment opportunity, they are also human. Grammatical errors and boring prose can quickly discourage anyone reading the business plan. It seems your essay teacher was right all along.

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Having Trouble Writing Business Plan Goals and Objectives?

Objectives

One of the important components of a business plan is clearly defining objectives. Stephen Harper in Starting Your Own Business (McGraw Hill, 2003) writes, “Objectives can be viewed as dreams with a deadline.” The point he is making is that objectives should be specific in terms of projected amounts and timeframe.

For example, you would not write an objective like this: The business will grow over the next 5 years. You would write it like this: Sales are expected to be $2 million in 5 years and the business will be one of the top 5 niche market leaders. The dreams you have for the business should look ahead and establish where you want the business to be positioned or how much growth is expected within a set period of time. The dreams should also be reasonable, based in facts and business reality, and achievable.

For example, if you plan on opening 5 franchise businesses within 10 years (1 every 5 years) the objective should be stated as such. However, you should also be able to support plans for opening these franchises in the competitive analysis section of the business plan. If the market is already close to being saturated, those 5 new franchises may be difficult to open. When objectives are focused and sensible, the business plan will become a living breathing document that supports your dream.

If you are having trouble setting objectives for the business plan, there are some questions you can ask yourself to develop focus. Ask yourself what your ultimate goal is 5 years from now. Picture yourself as an entrepreneur 5 years from today and imagine the level of business success you want to succeed. Ask yourself questions like how many sales people you hope to have working and how much market share you want to gain. Picture yourself as successful and put your definition of success in writing.

Objectives will become clear when you take the time to look into the future. Though a business plan is not a crystal ball, it is a driving force with strategies for achieving success. Set clear objectives first and the rest of the business plan will be a lot easier to develop.

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Does the Business Plan State Your Value Proposition?

Proposition

The ideal business plan is composed of more than just history, marketing and financial sections. It should also convey the value proposition to the angel investors you approach about business funding. Typically, angel investors are sought after a business has been established so it’s possible to show real products, actual customers and a working business model. However, the angel investors will want to know how you define the company’s value proposition.

The business value proposition is developed with the marketplace in mind. The value proposition defines why people in the target market should buy your products or services. It defines what benefits purchase of the goods or services will provide or what problem will be solved by product or service use. It sounds like the statement would be long, but it should be kept short which forces the business owner to concisely explain the value the company is bringing to the marketplace and the relevance of the product to the customer. If it takes a long winded explanation then there’s  good chance the business owner has not fully developed the business concept.

The value proposition is important to the angel investor because it concisely differentiates the business among its competitors and reflects an alignment of business operations with the market. The value proposition must also reflect specific results or performance and is not a generalized statement that any business could use. For example, a consulting business could say that it can help customers get a high return on investment , but that would be a weak value proposition. A strong value proposition would say that the business can demonstrate customers will experience an improvement of 15% Return on Investment (ROI) by using the company’s state-of-the-art proprietary software.

Angel investors expect a business plan to have a value proposition that quantifies market results and also states the source of its competitive advantage. That should never be a problem if a company is serious about success.

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Enterprise Turn to the Right with the Help of Angel Investors

Enterprise

You have a business enterprise, but its just not taking off the way that you planned or business has slowed down significantly after a stellar few years. Along the way though, you have been able to learn much more about what the market demands and can amend your approach with great success with the right funding. Sometimes it’s necessary to reinvent your business to fit the marketplace and take advantage of what you have learned to date through missteps or experience. It’s a sharp turn to the right that can help a business take off again and angel investors can help you turn the wheel with angel funding.

Sometimes entrepreneurs have a good idea that needs tweaking, but they don’t know it needs adjusting until they enter the marketplace. In the age of technology, customer needs can change rapidly and you must be able to accommodate those needs through innovation. Business based on excellent ideas aren’t always successful after a period of time simply because they need a new look, a new approach, a refined marketing plan or an adaptation.

All too often businesses are driven into the ground because owners refuse to acknowledge that the economy has shifted or that their market niche has changed expectations. It’s a case of stubbornness in many circumstances because it’s tough to consider changing a brand that has time, money and effort behind it. However, your brand won’t do you much good if your company dies a slow death because you failed to listen to what the market is telling you.

Turning Towards Success

Reinventing your business with the help of angel investors can change a struggling business into an adaptable one that is always one step ahead of customers. Angel investors don’t just fund brand new businesses. They also fund existing businesses ready to change course to take advantage of a changing economy or a changing marketplace. Companies reinvent themselves every day with enormous success and many are companies well recognized – Apple computers, HP, GE and others. However, you don’t have to be a major corporation to understand that market adaptability is one of the most important keys to success.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of entrepreneurs who refuse to admit they need to pivot in place and head in a new direction. The advantages of adapting is overshadowed by the fear of failing, so the business is allowed to die a slow death while reinvention ideas are left languishing in the dark. It’s not for lack of funding either. Angel investors are investors willing to accept risk for financial gain and are looking for companies that have a new idea and a new way to penetrate a changing economy. Angel investors, like venture capitalists and equity partners, embrace innovation, new approaches and new ideas.

Reinvention can take many forms.

  • Technological changes in products or processes
  • Response to competition in the form of new products or services
  • Upscale reinvention of brand
  • Change or expansion in products or services in response to changing customer base
  • Expansion in the definition of the niche market

Angel investors are more than willing to invest in companies that are ready to take a new path. In fact, you have a lot to offer angel investors right from the start because you have a business track record. The fact you are currently in business is a major benefit and selling point and often enough to get an investor’s attention sooner rather than later.

Pivoting on Core Competences

If you have a desire and need to take a sharp turn to the right in your business, the first step is developing a business plan around your core competencies. Those core competencies are the strengths of your business around which you will pivot your plans for new products or services, increased market penetration or business expansion based on a reinvention platform.  Clearly explain your new idea, track record, the problem you will solve or the market you will serve, the benefits offered to the marketplace, the revenue opportunities and how reinvention strengthens and rather than weakens your enterprise, and angel investors will have plenty of good reasons to join your efforts.

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Sprout Opportunity Business Wings with Angel Investors

business

Angel investors are playing a larger and larger role in the business investment community for obvious reasons. The banks are making it more and more difficult, due to a tightening of credit policies, for an entrepreneur with a new business idea or an early stage business expansion plan to find funding. Yet you can’t keep a good entrepreneur down. Angel investors see a need in the marketplace they can meet while businesses can see a need for investment fulfilled.

It’s a win-win arrangement.

Planting Seeds for Business Success

Finding adequate funding will probably always be one of the greatest challenges a business must meet. On the other hand, investors need a good place to invest their money to increase returns. The tight credit market has created the ideal forum for bringing businesses and private investors together.  By investing in companies like yours, angel investors can earn a higher rate of return while your business gets the much needed capital injection required to move forward.

One of the nice features of this type of funding is the fact startup businesses can attract the angel investors when they could not attract venture capital or equity partners due to lack of financial history. The angel investors are known for being willing to give young companies with exciting new ideas, concepts or methods opportunities they would not be able to find elsewhere.

How big is the angel investor market? According to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, in the first two quarters of 2010 (latest numbers reported) angel investors invested $8.5 billion. As many as 25,200 entrepreneurs obtained this type of business funding.  Many people are not aware of the size of the private investment market that includes angel investors, venture capital and equity partners.

Harvesting Success

Angels are committed to providing startup funding and even money for small business expansion. Business loans are made in numerous industries too including:

  • Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Industrial production
  • Green technologies
  • Retail
  • Biotech
  • Software
  • Computer equipment

Originally angel investors tended to be sole financiers or loose groups of investors willing to make business loans for new business ventures on an informal basis.  Today there are formal investing groups able to offer larger amounts of business funding to new enterprises if the entrepreneurs have solid business plans. In fact, the angel investing industry has grown to point where they have their own trade association called the Angel Capital Association.

One of the most common questions asked is: What makes angel investors different from venture capitalists? Though there are no formal definitions, angels are more likely to invest in startup businesses or existing businesses that are still in the early stages of operation. These are the types of businesses that often have difficulty finding traditional loans. Angels will also invest smaller amounts. In fact, the news reports are full of stories of angels making microloans.

Venture capital, on the other hand, usually invests in businesses that have been in operation for a while or have a proven financial track record of some kind. Another difference between angels and venture capitalists is angels invest their own money while venture capitalists usually invest money from formal funds created for investment purposes.

Making Good Sense

If you are searching for startup funding, approaching angel investors makes sense. This is a group of investors more open to funding entrepreneurs ready to get their small businesses up and running.

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Understanding Venture Capitalists: How to Get Their Attention… And Approval

venture capitalists

It might be surprising, but a lot of venture capitalists understand the situation of would-be entrepreneurs who are looking for investors who will finance their startups. The reason for this is simple: these people who now have millions of venture capital funds stashed in banks also started as a small company owner who experienced the challenges of looking for someone who is interested in providing financial support.

They might have followed the traditional venture capitalist model, or used personal means – such as credit cards and personal guarantees – to raise significant amount of money. But one thing is clear – most venture capitalists understand the position of startup owners. And this shows their true nature when it comes to dealing with these kinds of partnerships.

Unlike the common conception that they are all too powerful and very difficult to please, venture capitalists are also human. And because most of them have experienced and succeeded in this industry, the requirements that they ask from startup owners should be seen as reasonable and realistic. Here are some of the traits that startup owners applying for financial support should have:

Passion – Those who are passionate, enthusiastic, and confident with their startups usually get not only the attention, but also the approval of investors.

Intelligence – Knowledgeable would-be entrepreneurs always have the advantage. Venture capitalists think that intelligence is tied with the success of the company.

Defensibility – Having a great concept is one thing, but being able to defend it at different levels is another. Most of the time, investors will point problems on the concept submitted by the startup owner. He or she must be able to defend the idea and convince venture capitalists that the problems can be resolved.

Contrarianism – Investors are waiting for the next big thing. Thus, unique ideas that have huge potential almost always get the nod of venture capitalists. After all, nobody wants another social networking site, not if we already have Facebook. We want something new.

Perseverance and Persistence – Startup owners who exhibit determination on their ideas always get the attention of investors. Consistent follow-ups and immediate response to queries sent by the potential investors show how important the deal is for the entrepreneur.

Humility – Despite the need for passion and determination, startup owners also need to have an ounce of humility. One must keep in mind that even the best actors or athletes have to follow the orders of their directors and coaches, respectively.

Aside from the traits enumerated above, would-be entrepreneurs should also understand what goes in the mind of venture capitalists. Usually, it only involves two things: fear and greed.

As noted earlier, investors want to put money on proposal that will be as big as Facebook. Because of this, they are afraid of letting a potential project go (fear). Also, venture capitalists look at the things that they will get once they finance a startup. This includes profit, recognition, and a powerful position within the company, among other benefits (greed).

In the end, it all comes down to these two. And startup owners might want to use these to their advantage. Of course it would not be easy. Venture capitalists are experienced people who will know if they are being manipulated. But having the knowledge of what they want is something that could spell the difference between failure and success.

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