Seven Tips on Raising Venture Capital for Business Startups

Raising Venture Capital for a business startup may be one of the most difficult challenges that an entrepreneur might encounter. After all, with the number of business startups out there, the competition for that precious venture capital may be really tough.

Here are some tips for business startup owners seeking to raise venture capital:

  1. Decide on what you want to do – Having a business idea is different from having a business plan. While it is important to know what you want, you also need to know how you would execute your plans to achieve your objectives. Knowing this will increase your chances of securing venture capital.
  2. Be ready for what happens – If you’re really serious with securing a venture capital, then you have to do whatever it takes to get it. This includes being ready to move to another location or sit in on trainings and other experience-building activities.
  3. Invest on your team – The truth is, businesses are not just about its owners. Usually, the success depends on the entire team that is working behind it. Venture capitalists know this, so do your best to establish a team that would bring your startup to the top.
  4. Find a mentor – Business startup owners usually don’t have much experience on what they are doing. With this, it is necessary to have a mentor who could help you in your operations, as well as in getting recommendations that would help you in seeking investors.
  5. Have fun – Venture capitalists like business startup owners who enjoy what they are doing. The success of the business greatly depends on the passion of the people who runs it, so try to enjoy and have fun with your day to day activities. Keep in mind, though, that too much fun may lead to failure, rather than success.
  6. Be ready to fail – Failing to secure a business investment is a common occurrence in the world of entrepreneurship. In case you get turned down, don’t worry, there are other opportunities out there.
  7. Know what you are doing – Finally, know that venture capitalists prefer business owners who know everything about their craft. Therefore, before seeking financial support from venture capitalists, try to know everything about what you are doing in order to convince them that their money will be in safe hands.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at 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.Funded.com

Educate Your Investors: Effective Ways to Secure Business Funding

Educate Your Investors Effective Ways to Secure Business FundingSecuring the nod of potential investors such as angel investors or venture capitalists is not an easy job. Most of the time, they have the money but they are not familiar with the industry that your working for. Prior to pitching your startup, it is important that you have some idea on how you will respond to the queries of your potential investors.

Be ready to answer questions such as: What is the scope of your industry? Why should I invest in your company? How much will I get when I fund your business? What is your edge over other companies?

Being prepared to answer such questions will greatly improve your chances of securing business funding. The key is simply to make the investors understand your industry and where you are coming from. If you do that, there is no doubt that you will be able to get the venture capital that you really need.

Aside from being able to respond to the questions thrown at you, you should also try to observe the following tips on how to effectively educate your potential investors about your industry:

1. Explain your industry in a familiar manner – It is important that your potential investor understands your industry. And you can only do that by explaining it to him or her using a familiar context. For instance, if your industry is something that concerns e-commerce, then you might want to explain it by using a relatively known concept such as trade or marketing.

2. Avoid jargons – When talking about a concept that we are knowledgeable of, Continue reading “Educate Your Investors: Effective Ways to Secure Business Funding”

Need Funds? 6 Steps In Applying For A Venture Capital

If you are planning to establish your own startup, one of the first things that you have to do is to secure financial support. One way to do it is to apply for a bank loan. Another – and the more popular one – is to seek support from venture capitalists.

Because of the competition, getting an approval from a VCs is not that easy. However, with the amount of available funds out there, it’s never impossible to get one – if you know what to do.

Everyone agrees that in the process of getting financial support from VCs, the most important moment is the time when you make your pitch to your potential investors. And while you have to pay a lot of attention to this particular occasion, you must also keep in mind that most of your time will not be spent on the actual pitching – it will be on the preparation.

Like baseball pitchers, entrepreneurs who want to secure investments should spend more time preparing for the pitch than the actual pitch itself. Following is a step-by-step preparation process that aims to assist entrepreneurs who seek funding from venture capitalists:

Step 1: Look for Specific Partners

Instead of just looking for investment firms, entrepreneurs should focus their time identifying specific venture partners. Despite working at the same investment firm, partners usually differ in terms of operations, capabilities, and expertise. Some investors, for instance, prefer startups focusing on electronics or health-related services, among others. Knowing this will save you a lot of time.

One way to help you in your research is to speak with other entrepreneurs who recently closed investment rounds. They can give you information regarding not just the firms but also the specific venture partners.

Step 2: Get to Know Your Potential Investors

After identifying a number of potential investors, learn how they operate. It is not advisable to immediately approach them and ask for funds – it’s a one way ticket to rejection. What you must first do is to get to know them and, if possible, get them to know you.

You can connect with them through social media accounts. Follow them on Twitter and check their Facebook presence. You can get their attention by providing insightful and interesting comments on some of their posts. Keep in mind, however, that you have to do this moderately. Otherwise, you’ll be tagged a stalker with a vested interest.

Step 3: Secure Meaningful Referrals

Establishing a social media network with your potential investor is not enough to get their approval. More than that, you should get their attention by securing referrals from people they trust.

Recommendations from accountants and lawyer, while not entirely worthless, would not usually secure an investment. What you must have is a referral from an entrepreneur who is already on the portfolio of your potential venture capitalist. Getting one is difficult, but it might spell the difference between an approval and a rejection.

Step 4: Preview Your Venture First

Like what was previously stated, immediately asking for money is not a very effective move. Thus, when you get the opportunity, schedule a meeting with your potential investors and tell them that you want to preview your venture and get their insights. This will pique their interest and will assure positive reception to future meetings.

Step 5: Provide Updates and Follow-ups

Following the preview meeting, do not forget to send your potential investors with updates and follow-ups. Giving them information about the improving status of your startup will act as a signal that will entice them to forge a partnership with you.

Step 6: Initiate Fundraising

Finally, when you have finished the first five steps, coordinate with your potential venture capitalists and ask them for possible investments. This step should not be very difficult especially with all the information and recommendations that you have previously gathered.

Following the six steps would take a lot of time. But it will assure you that when you return to running your business, you have secured that elusive investment that you really need.

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.

Is It Time To Apply For A Startup Accelerator?

Following the rise of startup accelerators, the number of new entrepreneurs who want to get a position within these incubators has also significantly increased. Wall Street Journal reports that the applications to more than 200 accelerators around the world have almost doubled in the past two years.

According to Marc Nager, Chief Executive Officer of Startup Weekend, an accelerator may be good for those who are new on the field of entrepreneurship. However, in isolated cases, some of the terms may not be as acceptable. Nager provided some information that might help those who have yet to apply for an accelerator.

Understand the Basics

For Nager, would-be entrepreneurs must start with understanding the basic terms of the deal. He said that before applying, they should look at the benefits that they will get once they participate in this venture.

In the world of startup accelerators, a lot of value will come from the network that will be established amongst the students, mentors, and program leaders. Nager added that the applicants should also use to their advantage the possibility of having one-on-one experience with experienced entrepreneurs. He stresses the need for applicants to identify at least three mentors who have had experience on the industry that they are working on. This will ensure that the sessions will be maximized and will result in a highly beneficial experience.

Choose Wisely

Nager advises that when applying for startup accelerators, would-be entrepreneurs should consider signing up in well-known programs. He said that these will ensure better results that will be advantageous for the participants.

Unfortunately, well-known start-up accelerators usually have very low acceptance rates. With this, applicants can also try signing up in local versions of the accelerators provided that they have high quality program, mentors, and leaders.

Nager also noted the rise in the number of accelerators that offer specialized programs. There are those that focus solely on providing programs that help healthcare startups, civic startups, and startups that use a specific technology, among others.

The specialization may be advantageous for some startups. However, it must be noted that there are also things that one may miss if he or she decides not to sign up in one of the traditional accelerators that offer a wider range of coverage. Because of this, would-be applicants should know how to weigh the benefits before deciding to participate in specialized programs.

 Work on that Application

As stated, the chances of getting admitted into a well-known accelerator are very slim. Because of this, would-be entrepreneurs should toughen up their applications if they want to get the nod of the evaluators. 

One thing that they can do, Nager says, is to understand how the applications were evaluated by the accelerators. He also said that having a good team that will shine above the rest will boost the chances of getting selected.

Finally, he said that the applicants must do all their best to impress those who will decide on the applications. He suggests the use of human element, among others, to get the approval of the decision makers.

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.

Seal the Deal: Four Ways to Ensure that You’ll Get That VC Funding

It might seem easy, but the reality is that very few startups actually get financial support from venture capitalists. In Silicon Valley, for instance, only 0.3 percent – or one in every 300 startups – receives that highly sought after funding. This is the truth, and if you are one of these hopefuls, you might want to start improving your performance to ensure that you will be the chosen one.

This article does not focus on giving usual advices that urge you to be the top performer, the cream of the crop, and the best of the best – these are very obvious things that you should already be aware of. Instead, this piece will provide you with four important tips and reminders that might help you seal the deal with your potential founders.

TIP 1: Know What You Need

Before submitting a proposal to venture capitalists, it is your duty to know all the things that you are asking for from your potential founders. How much money do you need? Is the amount that you are asking for enough to support the startup? Where will you specifically allot the money that you will get? What will the VC get in exchange of the financial support that they will give you? What will be the status of your market outbound once you receive the funding?

These are just some of the things that you should be familiar with, and the list of questions goes on and on. As the owner of the startup, you should be able to answer every possible question that venture capitalists might ask about your proposal.

TIP 2: Know What You Are Doing

Impressing your potential investors is perhaps the most important things that you should do if you want to receive financial support from venture capitalists. And how can you impress them if you cannot clearly explain the concept, objectives and other significant details about your company? As the owner, you are expected to familiar not just with the strengths, but also weaknesses and challenges that your startup is facing. This will help you when you present your pitch before your potential founders.

TIP 3: Persistence is the Key

In this kind of game, time is usually not on the side of the entrepreneur. Venture capitalists have the power to act on your proposal on whatever speed that they like. They might decide to immediately discuss your pitch among themselves or hold it for as long they want due to any type of reason that they may come up with. There is nothing much that you can do at point – that is, unless you decide that you want to give them a deadline. This might work, but you must be sure that your proposal is good enough that your potential investors would bother following the timeframe that you imposed on them.

If you do not want this suggestion, then there’s nothing that you can do but to persevere in following up your proposal. Do not be ashamed to check the status of your pitch – there’s nothing wrong about that. Just make sure that you do not nag, pester or badger your potential funders.

TIP 4: Choose your Battles

Discussing the term sheet is a serious pain in the neck. Definitely, there will be disagreements on the terms and conditions that your investors would want to enforce. You should know when to hold your ground or give in to their requests. There’s no point arguing just for the sake of argument. It would lead to a disaster. Know how to choose your battles. Too much argument may lead to a bitter relationship between you and your investors. Or worse, you might end up losing an important deal.

Venture capitalists are not different from your friends, family, and business partners who have heard you talk about your startup. They are also people. And like the rest of us, they will listen to you as long as you provide them with honest and interesting information. You do not have to use out of this world statements to amaze them. All you have to do is to give them an honest proposal that is worthy of their attention.

 

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.

 

Funding Your Own Business

Say you are planning to have a business and, furthermore, you know the know-how to bring it into development.  The only thing you are losing is the cold money to get started.  What are your options?

Suppose you do not have a ready line of credit, an extensive bank administrator, rich family members or a significant store of retirement savings you are willing to risk, you are going to have to do some serious preparation and hard work.  Luckily, there are a number of sources of finance for the Business startup owner, at least one of which may be right for you.

SBA LOANS

Available only to U.S.-based businesses (but if you are outside the US you can look for something that has a similar program), the SBA (the U.S. Small Business Administration) has served a large number of business owners begin their own Business.  The SBA does not issue resources (money you do not have to pay back) or create financial loans straight, rather, it assures financial loans made by personal loan organizations thereby decreasing or removing the danger natural in new organizations and making loan organizations more willing to offer.

The main concern for the SBA is reimbursement ability from the income of the company as well as “good personality, control ability, security and owner’s equity”.  You will be expected to individually assure your mortgage.  This implies your personal belongings are at risk.

As for the types of organizations qualified for SBA financial loans, the SBA enforces the following criteria: the company must be “for-profit” (it only indicates that your company has a revenue reason, not that it has actually produced a revenue yet), ), be engaged in business in the United States, there must be “reasonable” owner equity (what’s reasonable will depend on the circumstances) and you are expected to use alternative financial resources first, including your own personal belongings.

The SBA also enforces restrictions on the use of loan proceeds. For example, although the proceeds can be used for most company requirements (the cases given by the SBA include “the purchase of real estate to house the company operations; development, remodelling or leasehold improvements; getting furniture, furnishings, equipment; buy of inventory; and operating capital”), you cannot use the loan proceeds for financing floor-plan needs, to pay current financial debt, to create expenses to the business owners or to pay past due taxes etc.

As a common concept, loans for working capital must be repaid within seven years and loans for fixed assets must be paid for by the end of the economic life of the assets (but not to exceed 25years).

ANGEL INVESTORS

Angel Investors are good spirits with a healthy sense of self-interest. Determining they can get a higher come back if they are ready to take a bit of a risk, they are also often effective business owners themselves and want to give other a hand up. Think of financing from angel investors as a link or gap-filler between being a start-up and preparing for venture capital.  The kinds of money we’re referring to here are between about$150,000 and $1.5million.  Beyond this point you are in low venture-capital area. The SBA reports that there are around 250,000 angels in the U.S., financing about 30,000 organizations a year.  So, how do you connect with one?  Not a easy task, unfortunately.  It comes down to networking.  Begin by speaking with professional and business associates – they will often know someone who knows someone etc..  However, we at funded.com can help you in this.

VENTURE CAPITAL

You’re in the big teams now.  Usually you are in the ballpark of millions (of money that is) rather than a thousand.  Venture Capital organizations look for their return on investment from capital appreciation rather than interest (unlike banks, for example).  They’re generally looking for a return of 500-1,000% on exit. It will not shock you to learn that vc’s are particularly hesitant of internet-based organizations right about now and not surprising.  It also provides them right.  But if you have a powerful Business Plan and powerful development potential, this could be an option for you longer term.

One of the common issues about this form of financing, however, is that you have a limited control over your business. Venture Capital usually wants to have control on your business, in return for their risk. A venture capitalist will have to seat as a board member, for example. Always remember, that it’s in the vc’s best passions for your company to be successful, so providing up some control in return for outside skills may well be something worth thinking about.

For this, your best bet would be to begin out by analyzing the various loan program provided via the SBA (or your local equivalent).  But do not ignore, close to home sources first.  If you have household resources at your convenience (for example) and you are assured that your business will be effective (and unless you’re assured about that, don’t get into financial debt with *anyone*, let alone household members), better to begin out slowly and convenience into outside sources of financing as your company (and, furthermore, your company’s cashflow) can support it.  After all, Uncle Jack is much more likely to know about the temporary income meltdown than Uncle Sam.

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.

Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid

Writing your business plan is probably one of the most important business duties you will assume. If you follow a quality business plan template you will cover the basics of the plan, 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 plan
  • 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 plan (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.

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.

Spin Out with a Business Plan

Business plans are a bit like tornados. There is a core that is tightly woven and concentrated and from that core there are a number of spin-offs even as the tornado keeps moving. An effective business plan is always concentrated on the ultimate mission, in constant motion, and ready to spin-off whatever is needed for a long-term successful business.

The power of tornadoes has been witnessed by thousands of folks over the last couple of years. They can wreak incredible damage if anyone or anything in its path is not prepared. The business plan can be a powerful tool for business success but can also cause a lot of damage if it is never amended to take into account what blocks its path. For example, a new competitor enters the marketplace and your business fails to respond because it’s not in the business plan.

High quality business plans are never really completed because they need to keep moving with the market, the customers, the competitors and the economy. One of the reasons so many companies failed during the Great Recession was due to inertia. They insisted on doing business according to the business plan that was not updated to accommodate the new economic conditions. There are also thousands of business that have failed or are failing because they did not respond to changing consumer buyer habits.

Right now there is national big box company relying on showroom floors that is struggling to survive in a market where customers have changed from buying computers and equipment locally to buying online. If the company had stay tuned to the marketplace, and revisited and adapted its business plan, there is a good chance that management would have developed alternative selling strategies that improved its competitive position.

The business plan is the core plan and from it you need to spin out changes, market responses, new opportunities and so on. The core of the business plan does not change from its inception, but the details will change with the competitive environment. The business plan should not be like a tornado wreaking savage damage because it refuses to change course. The path should always be well-defined and obstacles removed through strategic planning.

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

Business Plans Begin With a Mission to Thrive

Business plans are meant to be adaptable plans for thriving, not just surviving, as a company. Yet, according to famed Harvard professor John Kotter, 70 percent of business initiatives meant to bring organizational change will fail. That is an impressive number because it means efforts to adapt to a changing marketplace are failing. There is a disconnect between the business plan founded on a mission and the real world.

The problem is often one of losing sight of the company mission and failing to plan. The mission statement represents the starting point for the direction of the business plan and captures the essence of business purpose. It has a philosophy underlying it that does not change. Philosophies are encompassing, so the mission statement is a reflection of the nature of products or services sold, potential for growth, pricing strategy, customer service, role in the community, competition and much more.

On a Mission to Fulfill a Mission

The business plan needs to be developed so that each and every section drives the business towards fulfillment of the mission. A change initiative is merely a strategy for keeping the business on track to fulfill the mission. Leading change requires first turning to the mission statement and the business plan. A business that needs to change must be able to communicate a sense of urgency throughout the organization because staying true to the mission statement is necessary to thrive. If a change initiative is needed, it means the business has gotten off course from its mission and its vision.

The business plan goals and strategies may need to be revised, but that should always be a step in the change process. In fact, business plans can serve as the guide for change as each section, from the Executive Summary to the Financial Statements, are reviewed in light of the need for change. Leadership will identify specific strategies for incorporating change and then communicate the revisions on an organization-wide basis. The change process must be empowering and encompassing, meaning employees at all levels should be embraced as change agents.

Business plans begin with a mission statement and then serve as a living breathing document. Leading organizational change is not always easy, but it can be impossible unless there is buy-in to the mission and the business plan. The strategies used to get that buy-in can vary, but staying on message cannot.

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.

Planning for Change in Business Plans

Business plans are not etched in stone; yet that is exactly how some businesses treat them. The business plans are written and then put into a proverbial drawer where they never see the light of day. One day the plan is dusted off, updated for the Board of Directors, and then put back into the drawer. This does not make sense after so much time and effort has been put into developing a plan that is supposed to establish a clear path to success.

Viable businesses never stand still. They are movers and shakers as they interact with customers, develop new products and services, and adapt to good and poor economies. When major changes happen that affect your business, it is like a time warp because everything changes from that point forward. Change is always imminent today and largely because of technology. Businesses can enter the marketplace faster and roll out a marketing program quickly on the internet.

The business plan can quickly become an anachronism if it does not plan for change. This doesn’t mean doing multiple business plans addressing all the what-if scenarios. However, change should be built in to the business plan process. First you develop a business plan based on the most sensible goals using current knowledge and expectations for the future. You can include a decision tree analysis section, if desired. However, you plan to change by simply doing an honest and regular review of the developed business plan.

It is important to have the same groups involved in the original plan development also participate in review sessions. The business plan may need to be revised, but you have identified where and how which is good strategic management.

The real issue is whether management can develop the discipline needed to make sure the business plan is regularly reviewed. Developing business plans should not merely be an academic exercise. It needs to be an important management function.

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