Two Ways to Define Sustainability and Attract Investors

Sustainability is a topic of interest today, and it interests investors and businesses. There are two ways to consider sustainability. Sustainability may refer to the ability of a company to maintain organic growth as it expands operations. Sustainability also references corporate responsibility in support of the community and environment. Either way, many business opportunities are created and investors must decide which ones present the most opportunities.

In today’s economy, the two types of sustainability actually merge. There are companies that have found organic growth by offering environmentally sound products and services. As green technology advances, those businesses on the cutting edge of new product and service development need financing for research and development, manufacturing and innovative marketplace implementations. These are exactly the kind of companies that many investors are looking for because these entrepreneurs represent the future which means long term success.

Sustainability used to be a fad concept, but now it’s an imperative – either way you want to define sustainability. Businesses that can grow in the current economic climate are the operations that learn to be lean and productive and more likely to succeed and expand through the years. Businesses that contribute to the environment by offering green products and services are poised for explosive growth as global and domestic environmental issues come to the forefront. Investors are ready to accept the risks of opportunity as long as the business has a strong business plan. Whether you need startup funding or expansion funding, if you can show you’re a sustainability leader then there are investors ready to help you march forward.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Funding for Innovative MWBEs Ready to Grow

It’s true that it remains a tight capital market so finding investors in the private traditional financial institutions and locating public grant and loan funding is still challenging. Even as banks ease up on credit availability they are tightening requirements for credit approval. On the public sector side of doing business, Congress is reining in spending and that means less government money available to flow into grants and low interest small business loans. Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) must find alternative sources of capital to fund their growing businesses.

It’s a fact that MWBEs have become a powerful engine for economic growth and jobs creation. According to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners, MWBEs now make up the fastest growing new business segment in the U.S. To continue growing requires funding to build capacity so that small to mid-sized businesses can bid on larger procurement contracts and projects.

There is no reason to miss out on opportunities for growth because of funding when there are many alternative funding sources. These sources include angel investors, venture capital and equity partner investors. MWBEs that have a proven track record of business success and are poised to take the business to the next level of growth should not wait for the economy to pick up steam. The growing determination by large corporations to increase supplier diversity spending means that MWBEs have unprecedented opportunities to bring their innovative and creative businesses to the marketplace in expanding roles.

There are investors and there are opportunities, and that is the perfect partnership.

Browse http://www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded.

Getting Down to the Details of Presenting a Business Plan

There’s plenty of information about writing business plans for investors, but what about the actual presentation? Like any job, there are details that must get attention or the big picture falls apart. During a business plan presentation, the audience is going to be considering the details of the presentation as well as the details of the plan itself.

Presentation details include things like the format, the length, the graphs and charts selected, the flow of the information presented, and the efficiency of the presentation itself. Giving investors a good impression of your organizational and presentational skills enhances the information in the business plan. Rambling or disorganized presentations can detract from the information being conveyed.

So what are these small details? The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) business school recommends that the business plan presentation should only be approximately 30 minutes long. That may surprise some people, but we live in a society where people expect information to be conveyed quickly. Another recommendation is to keep the information on each page, slide or Powerpoint chart easy to read which means not putting too much information on it. A single page of presentation should have a maximum of 6 bullet points.

The flow of the presentation is important also. It should begin with a very brief overview of the company with a focus on why the services or products are problem solving and thus compelling. The overview is followed by a definition of the market need, the solution your products or services offer, the specific benefits conveyed to the market through your products or services and a description of the market and customers. You will also need to describe your competitive advantage. In a few presentation pages, the marketing plan and financial projections are presented.

A mistake many entrepreneurs make is developing a presentation that is too long and tedious. Investors are savvy and will ask the questions they need to know right then. However, investors and their accounting and legal advisors will study the written plan closely at a later date before making a decision. During the presentation, your goal is to get the interest of the investors to the point where they want to know more. It’s not to stuff as much information as possible into an hour.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Customer Focused Businesses Attract Investors

To sell a business plan to investors, you have some things to prove beyond the immediately obvious like marketing and the period the investor can expect a return on investment. You must also prove that you are customer focused from the very beginning. What does that mean exactly? It begins with a business that has products or services that solve customer problems and then expands from there.

Customer focused business plans attract investors for a good reason. The well thought out business plan that is customer focused finds a good balance between providing quality customer service with the need to achieve a return on investment. Achieving this balance is necessary because a business that is in it for the long haul must meet both goals to survive. In other words, you can’t have great customer service and lose money, and you can’t have poor customer service and a good return. If the latter situation exists, the business has moved to a company focus which means customers are being neglected. Eventually, competitors will get the neglected customers’ business.

For this reason, it’s critical that businesses needing investors prove they fully understand customer needs, can convert those needs into opportunities and have developed strategies to retain customers. The business plan will also need to prove that customers will get value for their money. In other words, the customer should be central to all decision making and planning. When investors review the business plan, they will look for customer focus as well as financial viability. In the final analysis, the two are so tied together that it’s impossible to separate them anyway.

Browse http://www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded.

What are Sophisticated Investors?

When you’re searching for business capital, you want investors who can be classified as sophisticated. A sophisticated investor is someone who has the business knowledge and experience to make good decisions about investment opportunities. The knowledge and experience enables the investor to thoroughly weigh the merits and risks of a business plan and make a reasonable decision about potential profitability and thus the likelihood of earning a return on the investment.

There are other ways the term sophisticated investors is used. For example, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the term applies to someone able to make certain restricted investments in exempt offerings. Small companies can sell securities to these investors without registering them. The investor can buy securities without having to worry that an investment loss will impact their net worth to any degree. However, for entrepreneurs seeking small to large private investors, a sophisticated investor is someone who has hands-on experience with start-ups or business expansions and can offer expertise as well as money

All types of investors can quality as sophisticated in its broad sense. The fact is that being wealthy doesn’t automatically mean being financially experienced. There are plenty of wealthy people who have inherited money, were paid an insurance settlement, or even got lucky on an investment, yet have no idea how to manage money. The true sophisticated investor is the angel investor, venture capitalist or equity partner that has the financial savvy to make a sound investment decision after studying the business proposal in detail including the marketing plan, financial information and success strategies. The sophisticated investor understands what he or she is investing in and that’s precisely why you will benefit from their expertise.

Browse http://www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded.

Traversing the Entrepreneur’s Valley of Death with a Business Plan

The business plan is a bridge that extends from initial startup to plans for long range success. That bridge crosses a wide canyon that includes seed money, angel investors and eventually venture capitalism and commercial funds. The first round of funding by angel investors is enough to get the business established and generating income through modest growth, but at some point for successful businesses the funding chasm becomes wide and deep. This Valley of Death, as the $2 million to $5 million is not so affectionately called,  can kill young businesses if it’s not traversed with injections of new venture capital investment money. On the other side of the valley can be found business loans from traditional lenders meaning the company is now poised for unlimited growth.

There’s a lot of debate on whether this valley really exists. Many business analysts believe there is always money for market worthy companies that need cash. This is based on the assumption that inefficient companies or companies with products that don’t succeed in the marketplace will drop out of the running for funding. That leaves the companies with competitive products and services looking for funding. Angel investors play an important role in this process because they fund companies with the well designed business models and that are most likely to succeed over the long run based on their analysis. The poorly prepared business plan and angel investors act like culling tools and force bad ideas out of the funding process early in the process.

Crossing the Valley of Death will take a concerted effort to find multiple sources of funding in many cases. For example, young entrepreneurs can bridge the gap by vigorously blending venture capital with government tax credits. A fairly new concept is the ‘certified capital company’ in which a state issues tax credits to companies in return for making investments in young businesses ready to cross the Valley of Death. There are a number of new and creative funding concepts being introduced across the nation to stimulate job growth and economic development.

In other words, if you need angel funding or are facing the Valley of Death, rest assured that professionals familiar with the funding environment can steer you to funding arrangements you may not even be aware exist. If you see the Valley of Death looming, it only means you have been successful already.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Don’t Hype the Business Plan

A business plan is a living breathing document in that it can help you obtain capital through angel investors and then serve as the blueprint for goals and strategies. However, the business plan filled with hype is dead on arrival during fund raising because business plan readers will quickly recognize over-promising exuberance not based in reality. You may have an amazing idea and believe it’s a wide open market niche with no competition, but can you prove so?

Though angel investors are not financial institutions, they still rely on solid market and financial evidence for decision making. Using an abundance of words like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘one of a kind’ sends a signal that you have not done in-depth market research. Even if you have done the research, these kinds of hype words set a tone of naiveté and inexperience because very few products are unprecedented and lack competition.

As you write the business plan with the intent of submitting to angel investors, the words you need to be thinking should be more along the lines of ‘proven’, ‘accomplishments’ and ‘competition.’ If you say that your product is unprecedented then that word needs to be supported by third-party market research proving to the best of their ability that you have actually developed a radically new product.  Even in that case, you also must still prove that an expanded market will want to buy your unprecedented product before angel investors will capitalize your startup. An unsold unprecedented product has no value.

Avoiding the hype in a business plan takes discipline because entrepreneurs are naturally excited about their initial stage of business growth. Hype makes your job of selling a business plan to angel investors much harder than it needs to be. Avoid the hype and the business plan begins on solid ground, and from there your fund raising chances can only go up.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Angel Investors Remain Committed to Business

Angel investors have been a “significant contributor to job growth” according to the University of New Hampshire Center for Venture Funding Angel Market Analysis Report. Entrepreneurs preparing business plans may also like to know that angel investments were made in healthcare (25%), industrial/energy (17%), biotechnology (14%), software (11%), media (8%) and retail (8%). In other words, angel investors invested in most industries the first half of 2011.

Government officials frequently talk about job creation. It’s interesting to learn that jobs are being created steadily through private investment in small to medium sized startups. Small business has always claimed that real job and economic growth relies on small business success more than the success of large corporations. In fact, two-thirds of new jobs in the U.S. are due to small businesses. Startups and small business expansion play critical roles in the economy and in promoting job growth. Since angel investors fund small business, that makes them just as critical to economic growth.

In 2011, angel investors created 134,130 new jobs. The angel investors also increased their seed and startup funding in the first 2 quarters of 2011. This was interpreted as a good sign because it reflects an increasing rate of small business development which means economic and job growth. If there is any doubt of the availability and economic influence of angel investors then consider the fact that the total amount of angel investments in the first 2 quarters of 2011 was $8.9 billion.

The data clearly shows that angel investors, despite their low profile, are a powerful economic force in the U.S. If you are interested in finding startup funding, rest assured there are angel investors interested in your plans.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

The Typical Angel Investor? No Such Thing!

Have you ever wondered where angel investors come from or what type of people you are going to present a business plan to? Is it a Donald Trump type of person – flamboyant and quite wealthy? Or is the investor someone more like your neighbor down the street who has quietly amassed a small fortune yet lives frugally? The truth is that the angel investor could be either person or a group of people.

The stereotype of an angel investor is someone who is a hardened business entrepreneur who has amassed great wealth but is always ready to create more. The image is of someone who swoops in, evaluates the business plan, does some inquiries and then funds a startup with the expectation of high returns. In reality, the angel investor may not be wealthy but is financially savvy.  Many are still employed but looking for a way to grow their money by promoting innovative new businesses.

Angel investors fill a gap that exists between the venture capitalist and the commercial lender. Venture capitalists and financial institutions lend larger amounts with the former willing to accept high risk and the latter expecting minimized risk. Many angel investors invest smaller amounts of money, $20,000 instead of $200,000, but there are no limits so $500,000 up to $2 million is possible. They don’t want to play an active role in the business, but do have business savvy. Mostly they just want to make money.

Angel investors are also groups of people who pool their money to fund startup businesses. They include investment clubs, professional groups like doctors or lawyers and even other entrepreneurs. The reason there is a bit of mystery surrounding angel investors is simply because they keep a low profile, so are difficult to categorize. What you do know is that they are financially savvy, thorough in their evaluation of businesses and hopeful of earning a high return on their investments. So don’t stereotype angel investors because they can be anyone.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Enter the Angel Investors at the Startup Stage

Financing a small business is done in stages with angel investors usually funding startup expenses. The amount of startup funding needed is figured in the business plan financial section along with projected revenues. Startup funding is actually just one stage of business financing because a new business must be funded from idea conception to expansion.

Businesses operate on a continuum. Initially, seed money is needed to do the original product development, business filings, research and market survey. The  entrepreneur often gets the seed money from personal savings, family and friends, or personal loans. Some even use their credit cards or house equity. In other words, seed money usually comes from personal resources because at this stage the business is only an idea and the risk of losing the money is too high.

Once it’s determined that the idea can be turned into a solid business, the picture changes. The business plan is prepared and the enterprise begins operating. At this point, the first revenues are generated which establishes the fact that the products or services are market viable. It is at this stage, often referred to as the series A or first round investment, that angel investors are approached. However, sometimes entrepreneurs will look for outside investors who will actually pay for startup. In other words, the business doesn’t begin operating until funding is obtained from venture capitalists willing to accept higher risk investments.

Angel investors can also be approached during the second round or series B investment stage. This is the stage at which initial expansion after startup takes place and funding is needed for inventory, staff or marketing expansion.  Later expansions using angel investments would be referred to as series C, series D and so on. In this way, each investor knows by investment reference how their investment ranks in the history of the business funding.

Eventually, a successful business will look for a larger funding source like a bank to finance a major expansion. Angel investors play an important role in the launch of new businesses and enter the business at one of its most critical stages. It’s no wonder they are called “angels.”

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com/ Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.