Six Great Places to Find Angel Investors


 

Last year, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, 67,030 ventures received angel funding.

This represented an increase of 1.8% over the prior year. In total, these angels invested $22.9 Billion; that's a lot of money.

Importantly, the Center for Venture Research found that the number of angel investors providing the funding last year was 268,160 individuals. So, clearly, there are a lot of angel investors out there.

So, you're probably thinking: how do I find these angel investors? The good and bad news is that there's no directory of angel investors. It's bad because if there was, it would be easy to find them. And it's good, since if angel investors were simple to find, they would be bombarded with deals; and thus raising capital from them would be much more competitive.

The best way to find these angel investors is through networking.

First, ask everyone you know (e.g., friends, colleagues, family, advisors like consultants, lawyers and accountants, etc. ) who they know that might invest in your business.

After that, the key is for you to keep networking and meeting new people. In many cases you should target individual angel investors directly. For instance, you may realize that a certain executive in your industry would be perfect, in which case you should call them and/or seek an introduction from a mutual acquaintance.

In other cases, you should "get out there" and meet them at different venues. Here are the six best venues I've found for meeting angel investors.

1. Local Business & Networking Events


Every city has local events that attract business owners and entrepreneurs (note that other business owners and entrepreneurs are often angel investors and/or can introduce you to angels).

You can find out about these events on sites like Meetup, Eventful and EventBrite.

For example, if you go to Meetup and type in "entrepreneur," you'll find lots of local events.

2. Industry Conferences & Trade Shows


Industry Conferences & Trade Shows are great places to meet angel investors. These events are filled with successful people who have the means and often interest in funding a company like yours. And, based on the fact that they are attending such a conference, they know your industry. This makes educating them on your venture easier, and also often gives them the ability to give you valuable strategic advice.

You can generally find out about these events in your industry's trade journals.

3. Alumni Events


Particularly at college alumni events you'll find lots of successful people. Many of whom would be very interested in funding your company as an angel investor. You already have a connection with these individuals since you share the same alma mater. So go to these events and meet them.

You may also have access to an online alumni directly. If so, you can use this to directly target certain individuals.

4. Chamber of Commerce Meetings

There's probably no better place to meet a large concentration of business owners (and potential angel investors) than local Chamber of Commerce meetings. So attend these meetings.

5. Volunteer at Local Organizations & Charities and/or Attend Charity Events

As a general rule, you should volunteer to give back to people less fortunate than you. But as a bonus, when volunteering you'll often meet very successful people, including large donors to the cause. These individuals might also be interested in funding your company.

6. Become a Guest Speaker

There are many groups like YPO (Young President's Organization) and Vistage that have monthly meetings during which they bring in outside speakers.

Find groups like these that could benefit from your knowledge. Present great information to them to help their businesses grow. In doing so, you will make great connections, including some that can fund your business.

As you can see, there are many, many places to find angel investors. It's mostly a matter of scheduling the time into your schedule to go do it.

 

Suggested Resource: In our Angel Funding Formula program, you'll learn exactly how to find and contact angel investors, exactly what information to convey to them and how, and how to secure your financing check. This presentation explains more.

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5 Simple Ideas to Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever


 

A lot of optimistic energy is pulsing through the business and financial markets in these 1st few days of 2017.  Perhaps more than in any other year since the Great Recession, “macro” conditions feel right for businesses across a wide swath of industries and markets to have breakout years.  Here are 5 ideas to make it so for your business:

5. Push the Risk Envelope. When business and economic confidence are high as they are now, the right mindset when it comes to strategic decision-making is to push the risk envelope. As so eloquently proved in Michael Raynor's masterpiece, "The Strategy Paradox," the vast majority of executives take too little short term risk, and by so doing subject themselves to far greater longer-term dangers.

In essence, this is because most usually the real danger for a business is not its sudden or dramatic failure, but rather slowly sliding into technological obsolescence, commoditization, and a low to no profit economic model.

While this conservatism is more pronounced in times of recession, in good times it is doubly insidious because both the opportunity costs of being too conservative and the likelihood of risky initiatives being successful are so much greater.

A great shortcut question to ask yourself is: “If I had no considerations of time and money, what would I do?”

The answer will usually point you to the riskier, and more often than not, the more strategically correct business decision.

4. Embrace New Technologies. In the past few years, we've reached a tipping point as to the ability of companies of all types and sizes to earn quick ROI via implementing and utilizing business process technologies that allow for the completion of work more quickly and cost-effectively, and at a higher level of quality and consistency.

Cloud-based, on demand, proven and inexpensive technologies are available now for almost all business processes - from sales CRMs to marketing analytics, to project management software to HR, accounting, and finance. 

And because of an almost overwhelming number of great software companies building new business process services (and because of SaaS, improving the ones they have almost daily), the cost of these tools continues to drop while their quality and efficacy rises. So let’s all make the business resolution to “try out” a new one of these tools each and every month in 2017 and see what additional marketing, sales, operational and financial efficiencies and improvements we can muster from them.

3. Pursue Global Markets. The volume of US exports hits new records year-after-year, and is projected to cross the $2.5 trillion mark in 2017.

Never before has it been a) easier to sell products and services globally b) have there been so many customers with money to spend the world over and c) has the reputation of US companies for technological leadership, quality products and ethical dealings been greater than it is right now.

So if you have a global growth strategy, build on it. And if you don't, get one.

2. Be Organizationally Creative. The maturation of business process technologies combined with the “flattening” and full-on “virtualization” of most modern work has created extraordinary opportunities for every company - no matter how small - to profit via organizational evolution, outsourcing, and fractionalization of work.

Things like organizing one’s enterprise via a mix of W-2 employees, 1099 contractors and outsourced technology, project administrative work low partners from around the globe.

My experience is that most of us intuitively get how this stuff works (as evidenced by how much of work we all now do on our mobile devices), but are still held back by a sense of how a “real” company should be organized.

The heck with that! All that should matter in decisions like this is whether it works - i.e. does it deliver higher quality at a lower cost? Everything else is just noise.

1. Have a Plan. Conditions are good. The world is our oyster. Let's commit, in writing, that we're going to make the most of it.

In the immortal words of Goethe, once a commitment is made, Providence moves too.

The spoils and thrills of victory in our so competitive but so opportunity-laden world go to those who devise bold plans of action and then go out and do them.

So let’s make great plans - organizationally creative ones that leverage technology, take intelligent risks and pursue and win opportunities around the world. 

That sounds like a great 2017!

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The 10 Million Dollar Mindset


 

If I say to you, "Hey, you can grow your business into a 10 million dollar company and be very wealthy" would you believe me?

Would you think it's possible? Likely? Easy? Hard? A pipe dream?

You don't have to tell anyone your answer, so be really honest with yourself. Can you envision becoming a multi-millionaire by growing your business?

If you can't see it, first congratulate yourself for that bit of honesty. Next, get to work on your mindset. You will never be a millionaire if you don't think like a millionaire.

Have you read biographies of multi-millionaires in the Unites States? It is rare to find a millionaire who says "I am so surprised I reached this level of success and wealth."

Except for lottery winners, most wealthy individuals are not surprised by their success. Their wealth is intentional. They set out to create that success, they visualized it, they believed it, and they passionately pursued it.

Hope Floats, Action Flies


You can hope to make the front page of Forbes Magazine by wishing that your business goes well. You can create excellent products then sit by the phone and hope that clients order them. You can launch a gorgeous website and hope that internet searchers just happen to find it.

In the course of your daily operations, do you hope for things to happen, or do you work at making them happen?

During your work day you likely create products, provide services, contact clients, process orders, send invoices, order supplies...and hundreds of other actions that generate income. Now let me ask you: would you be willing to stop doing these things and then to simply hope you can still make a living?

Obviously not. So, if you are not willing to give up your income by relying on hope and wishful thinking, why do so many entrepreneurs consider becoming a multi-millionaire a fantasy?

If your actions make you $200 dollars a day, don't you think that over time different actions can bring you $2000 a day, $20,000 a day?

My point? Stop hoping and wishing for abundant wealth and start planning on it.

1. Get The Mind Aligned


What you believe about money, wealth, and success will form the limitations of what you achieve in those areas. If you are comfortable with a 6 figure income, but feel guilty or overwhelmed when considering an 8 figure income, then you have set limits on your income potential.

If you think money is the root of all evil or that rich people are bad, then you have disqualified yourself from wealth. The relationship you have with money in your mind becomes the relationship you have with money in your life. That's why step one is to get the mind aligned.

You can't achieve dreams with lip service. You have to really believe.

2. Find Your Gurus

Ok, so you believe fiercely that you have what it takes to break into the 8 figure income stream. You believe it, you want it, you are seeking it.

Good! Seeking is powerful. You've heard it before, when the student is ready, the master appears. Even reading this newsletter is positive action in the right direction. Now surround yourself with likeminded people who reinforce your beliefs and support your goals. And spend time meeting with and/or studying those with more knowledge or experience that you.

Do not allow yourself to be frozen by fear or intimidated by those who have achieved great success. Find them, interact with them, learn from them, and model them.

3. Be Really Clear


We've mentioned becoming a millionaire or multi-millionaire a few times in this article. That is a great general idea, but it isn't a powerful enough of a goal to ignite action and feed passion.

You need to set very specific goals. Maybe you start with an annual income goal. Maybe you start with targeting a certain number of clients each month. Maybe you do both.

The more specific your goals, the more they will motivate and sustain you. Also, the ability to measure progress is key. If your goal is vague, how do you know if you are achieving it? Let's say your goal is to become a millionaire in your lifetime. You are now 30 and you have $60,000 in the bank - are you on track? Are you encouraged or discouraged? Will you be happy if you reach one million dollars in your bank account on your 90th birthday?

Now let's look at a specific goal. Let's just say that in 2013 your goal was to add 10 new clients per month and end the year with $570,000 in revenue. And now let's say it's December 31 2013 and you look at your results. You total clients for the year were 108 and you're final revenue totaled $563,000. You achieved 90% of your client goal and 99% of your revenue goal. Now how do you feel? You probably feel pretty good because you came very close to achieving your goals. And your results are probably far superior than if you didn't set the goals in the first place.

4. Tell Everyone

I am not talking about strutting around town bragging on how you are going to have gobs of money. I am talking about freely sharing your objectives in socially appropriate ways. For example, if while visiting family over the holidays old Uncle Jim yells across the room "Hey Chris, what are you doing with your life".

This may be an opportunity to say "Well Uncle Jim, this year I am focused on growing my company to $230,000 in revenues and I am on track to produce $5.5M in revenues by the year 2018".

I bet that will quiet the room.

Maybe you are willing to share that with family, maybe you'd rather not. Definitely be upfront about your goals with your staff, partners, and mentors. Go ahead and create accountability. If you really believe in what you can accomplish, you won't be afraid to "put it out there".

While you want passion, not ego to be your main motivator, a little pride can go a long way sometimes.

5. Live the Life

If you want to be a millionaire, you need to live like a millionaire. No, I am not saying you need to buy a car you can't afford or otherwise live beyond your means. On the contrary, there are hundreds of stories of self-made millionaire that got there by living conservatively.

What I mean is that you need to monitor your way of thinking. Do you look at a Bentley and automatically think "I will never afford that." How serious can you be about becoming a multi-millionaire if that is your knee-jerk reaction?

A person planning their success will instead think "In approximately six years, when my annual revenue reaches X, I will be able to buy that car cash."

What is your life plan? If you are a parent, are you optimistic about sending your kids to any college they want to attend? Are you learning about different places in the world you want to visit?

Are you learning a language to support your international business launch? Are you looking forward to and learning about things that are a normal part of the lifestyle you are working to achieve?

Is there something you can do now that will give you taste of your future? Maybe you can buy a pair of expensive sunglasses to remind you to look at the world through the eyes of a millionaire. Perhaps you can start a basic investment account at a firm that is known for high wealth clients.

Identify one thing you can do now that will make you feel like a millionaire, and go do it.

10 Million or Bust

Jack Canfield, one of the creators of the "Chicken Soup" series of books shares a story about setting bold goals. One year, he decided that he was going to sell a mini version of his book for twenty-five cents and wanted to reach $100,000 in sales that year. At the time, that was a huge amount of money for his family.

Well, he didn't make it. He only made $92,000 that year.

Was he disappointed? Of course not! By setting such a huge goal he created a situation in which an "almost made it" was still a raving success. If today, you make $75,000 a year and decide to make $10 Million in ten years, you will still be living a vastly different life if you only make $8 Million.

Now consider this. If in X years, you have 1, 2, 15, or 30 million dollars, are you still you? You may have different characteristic brought on by time and wealth, but you are still the same person, right?

If you are going to be a millionaire in the future, then what is stopping you from having that millionaire mindset now? Don't wait for things to define you. Rather, be defined by the passion, skill, and determination that will ultimately get you the life you want. Get your 10 million dollar mindset going today.

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The Three Year Plan


 

December is a natural time to reflect upon the accomplishments of the past 12 months, and to set goals and objectives for the New Year.

In doing so however, most of us think too much about next year, and too little about our longer term and multi-year business horizons.

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Growthink Innovation Series: FinTech


 

[To listen to a recording of the webinar, Click Here

On this recorded webinar, the Growthink Innovation Series turns to the transformative world of financial technology.

According to PWC, within the next 3-5 years, cumulative investment in FinTech globally could exceed $150 billion. Quite simply, the digital, mobile, and Internet revolutions are transforming the way customers access financial products and services of all types, and across all consumer and business sectors.

Traditional financial products and services being fundamentally disrupted by these new digital technologies include consumer and commercial banking, fund transfers and payments, investment and wealth management, insurance, and investment banking.

Webinar Description: Entrepreneurial and Investment Opportunities in Fintech

You’re invited to listen to a webinar, hosted by Growthink co-Founder and Managing Partner Jay Turo, where a select group of Fintech entrepreneurs and investors will share how they and their companies are winning in this incredibly dynamic space.

The panelists are:

  • Mr. Rafe Furst, Co-Founder Crowdfunder. Crowdfunder is the equity crowdfunding leader for sourcing and funding high-growth ventures with a network of over 130,000 entrepreneurs and investors. Crowdfunder and its VC Index Fund provide the opportunity for direct online investment into single ventures, as well as diversification into a broad VC-led portfolio (Index Fund) of early-stage startups – backed by many of the world’s leading Venture Capital firms and private investors.
  • Mr. Alo Ghosh. Alo Ghosh has over 35 years of experience on the frontiers of FinTech including teaching finance at Wharton, co-leading McKinsey's Finance practice, running a $4 Billion sovereign wealth fund, and is now an angel investor in 2 deep learning based FinTech startups.
  • Mr. Steve Hensley, Executive Vice President at KAL Software, a global software company operating at the forefront of the ATM industry. KAL’s product suite of applications, management servers and platforms enables ATM hardware, software and services from multiple vendors to work together perfectly.
  • Mr. Matt Stewart, Senior Marketing Manager, LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE). LendingTree is an online lending exchange that connects consumers with multiple lenders, banks, and credit partners. Since being founded in 1998 LendingTree has facilitated more than 32 million loan requests.
  • Mr. Ned Tobey, VP Product Management, Q2 Holdings (NYSE: QTWO). Q2 Holdings is a leading provider of secure, cloud-based digital banking solutions. Q2 empowers community-focused banks and credit unions with digital banking solutions that help them "scale smart and grow beyond" with retail and commercial account holders.

On the webinar, the panelists answer questions including the following:

  • Where are (and will be) the biggest areas of financial industry disruption and change and why?
  • How is the real / impactful is the world of mobile payments and where is it going?
  • What does financial disintermediation really mean? How much savings / efficiencies gained is there in peer-to-peer financial platforms like Prosper,          Lending Club, et al?
  • What happens to "cash" in this coming "cashless" society? What does this mean for globalization and traditional concepts of national sovereignty?
  • Which are some "under-the-radar" FinTech companies and entrepreneurs that smart investors should really be watching?

Listen to the webinar via the below link:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6249526614805165060 

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Why You Can't Live (or Die) Without Business Systems


 

Business systems, business systems, business systems....why is everyone always going on and on about systems in your business? 

Well, it's simple really. If you don't have a business system, and your entire operation relies on you personally performing certain actions, then you really don't have a business. You may be a really busy and even profitable self-employed, independent contractor, but you do not have a business.

A true business may require your leadership, strategy, vision, and even daily performance of work. But importantly, it will also continue to operate and make money even if you take a day off, go on vacation for a month, and be prepared for this, even if you die. 

What is a Business System?


In its simplest form, a business system is a process or collection or processes that dictate the way your business operates.  You may have a system for client acquisition, product delivery, customer loyalty, invoicing, supply chain, etc. 

The more automated and error-proof your system, the more you are able to dedicate your time and energy to growing your business rather than simply running the day-to-day operations.

If more time and greater revenue is not reason enough to have solid systems in place, let's consider these other factors that influence why you can't live, or die, without a business system.

Funding

Try walking into a bank or a venture capital firm and telling them what a talented widget maker you are and that they should give you money to build your company. 

When they ask for your business plan (a first step in building a business system), tell them you don't need any of that mumbo jumbo, you are Joe Blow, Great Widget Maker EVER!  What do you think is most likely?  That they will hand you a check or that they will laugh you out of the building? 99.99% will laugh hysterically (the other 0.01% are your parents and they are biased).

They will laugh because they recognize that a person is not a business.  Yes, one person can create a business, and one person can be the vision and soul behind a company, but no one person is the company.  

Apple is moving on without their visionary Steve Jobs, KFC is still selling chicken just fine without the Colonel, and Microsoft is still a giant while Bill Gates focuses on philanthropy.   You may be central to your business, but to have real value, the business needs to be sustainable without you.

You Can't Sell Yourself Into Slavery


Let's say you have worked for your business for a few years, developed a good customer following, revenues are high, but you do everything yourself and nothing is documented.

If so, think about your exit plan.  Will you someday just close up shop and let all those clients just melt away?   Will you pass the business onto your children or chosen successor?  Will you sell the business?

If you have a thriving business, selling may be an excellent idea and may significantly contribute to the funds you have to support your twilight years.   But how will you sell a business that doesn't have clearly defined systems?  How do you sell the business if you are the business?

Ok, so maybe the sale's agreement stipulates you will stay on as a consultant for a few months or years to show the new owners "the ropes" and transition the client base.  Guess what you will be doing in those months? That's right, creating systems! 

The fact is that you will sell your business for a lot more money and to a wider base of potential buyers if you have clearly defined systems in place.  When you are the business, new owners have to hope they can either replicate your actions or have a plan to do it better.  When you can show them proven business systems they can easily adapt, they will clamor to buy you.

What Will You Bestow?


Perhaps your dream is not to sell your business, but instead to pass it on as a legacy to your children or a chosen successor.  There are many strong family businesses in the United States that have been passed on through generations.  Is it your goal to be one of them?

The argument here is the same as in the previous section.  How do you bestow a business if you are the business?  How will you enjoy your retirement in Tahiti if Johnny Grandson is calling every two hours because he needs to know how you did this and that?

You Can't Die in Peace

Is the income from your business a necessary part of your household income?  If you die, and that income stops, how does your family survive?

If you need a solid reason for building business systems, perhaps this is it.  A business that can continue running without you, even if not running 100%, but can survive even without you, has value to your family.  It can be operated by relatives, it can be passed on to heirs, and it can even be sold.

But if your business evaporates into thin air then minute you stop breathing said air, you are doing your family a disservice.

A business with a solid foundation of systems will survive you.  It may even become your legacy.  Your brand, when attached to proven processes and workflows, can endure.   

Feeling Squeamish?

Have you felt the tingle of cold sweat as you read this article?  Are you wondering how you will ever sell your business when it primarily exists in your head?   In many ways, a business is collection of abstract concepts.  It's your reputation, your relationships with clients and suppliers, it's the quality of your product and service, and it's the word of mouth on the street.

To solidify your business, you need to give it form by building systems that can be documented, followed, and replicated by others. 

Depending on the nature of your business these systems may require a strong team, wise delegation, trustworthy partners, and reliable vendors. Maybe all you need is clever automation that can be passed on to others.

If this article made you feel at risk, then take the time to carefully analyze your business. What can you automate?  What can you document? What can you delegate?  What can you reliably outsource? 

Find ways to truly evolve from a self-employed worker to a smart owner of successful business systems.  Build it right and you can live (and die) in peace.

 

Suggested Resource: Would you like to know how to build business systems that dramatically improve your business, and turn it into one worth $10 million or more? If so, check out Growthink's 8 Figure Formula. This video explains more.

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Growthink Launches New Business Plan Informational Website


 

We are really excited to announce we have launched a new business plan website, BusinessPlanTemplate.com.

As the name indicates, the site will include business plan templates for all types of businesses. Currently, we have forty templates on the site. Templates are organized into 3 categories: Food & Retail, Service, & “Other” business plan templates.

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Stock Market Up, Confidence High - What Does It Mean for YOUR Business?


 

The three big economic stories since last month’s election have been a dynamic stock market rally, a strengthening dollar, and rising economic confidence.

Here are some encouraging statistics to ponder:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Wednesday at 19,549, up more than 9% since Election Day.
  • The Dollar's steady strengthening continues, since November 8th up 3% against the Euro and 8% against the Yen.
  • The U.S. Economic Confidence Index this week reached its highest level in 9 years, up a full 15% since the week before Election Day.
  • In November the U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs, reducing the unemployment rate to 4.6%, its lowest level since August 2007.

Of course and as one looks for them, threatening economic clouds can be found everywhere. But for now, the US economic mood is one of optimism, confidence, and possibility.

And so the ambitious executive should ask: How should 2017 business plans and performance expectations be “reset” in light of this improved outlook?

Here are three ideas:

#3. Raise Capital. As your business has adjacent opportunities for which the raising of outside growth capital would accelerate their pursuit, now is the time to go out there and get it.

In my 15 years of working with companies of all types and sizes with their fund-raising efforts, I have found that overall economic confidence is by far the most important factor as to the success or failure of any particular company's financing efforts.

When economic confidence is low - as it was during the Great Recession -almost nobody can raise money.

And when confidence is high, for example as it was during the late 1990s, almost anyone with a solid plan and who gives a heartfelt, assertive effort can.

So if the predictions of 3%+ growth for the US economy in 2017 hold true, then with them will come increasing economic confidence and thus a far easier time for companies of all types and sizes to raise capital.

#2. Work Harder. I vividly recall a conversation I had with a very successful IT services entrepreneur a few years back. He said that in reviewing his financial records October 2008 to March 2010 he determined that he would have made more money if he had closed his doors and sat on the beach during that time instead of actually running his business!

Well, good economic conditions like these are the karmic reward for those that fought and scratched to keep the "lights on" when times were dire.

AND the right reaction is NOT to work less because getting good results takes less effort, but rather to work twice as hard to profit from all the growth and expansion opportunities frothy conditions uniquely allow.

#1. Raise Expectations. As a proud and lifelong New England Patriots fan, I have been so inspired by the “winning is the only option” mindsets of Messrs. Belichick and Brady.

Sure, there's always some excuse for why a game was won or lost, or why a business grows or does not.

Excuses yes, but really no good reasons.

And just like my Patriots are marching relentlessly toward another division title and Super Bowl berth, so is 2017 shaping up to be a championship season for US business.

And that should be the expectation for all of us - record years for sales, profits, asset allocation, and growth.

The macro conditions are there for the taking.

Now it is up to us to go out and win the game.

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Use the Opportunity Acid Test to Grow Your Business


 

We choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.

                            - President Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” September 12, 1962

A fundamental executive leadership challenge is finding the right balance between focusing on what is "core" to one's business and investing time and resources into pursuing adjacent and complementary opportunities to it.

Examples of this include:

  • Traditional services business, web design and IT consulting for example, trying to build and sell software.
  • Restaurateurs trying to package and market their own line of food items - i.e. CPK selling frozen pizzas at the supermarket.
  • Traditional retailers, like flooring, boutique clothing stores etc., trying to build ecommerce businesses.
  • Businesses that develop a work process expertise, like a law firm that is particularly good at attracting new clients, in turn trying to sell that expertise as a service to other law firms.

On the surface, all of these “adjacent” opportunity pursuits seem worthwhile.

They build on business assets and trade secrets, they often leverage "remnant" organizational resources, and diversification of revenues and customers is a sought after business goal is it not?

It can be, and yes effective executives should always default to a positive and optimistic mindset toward opportunities but...

...they obviously 
must be the right opportunities to pursue.  

A simple “Acid Test” way to rate opportunities is to ask two questions:

One, is the opportunity one in which my business can truly be best-in-class?

And two only if the answer to the above is yes, are
the market dynamics for the opportunity favorable for its pursuit? 

I call these the internal and external opportunity acid test questions.

Internal in their inward look at the real strengths of a business and its people.

And external in their evaluation of the market landscape in which that business competes.

The internal acid test is easily performed by listing the business’ key strengths, like:

  • Marketing Strengths: Our brand is well-respected and well-known.
  • Sales Strengths:Our marketing-to-sales to conversion is excellent, perhaps driven by a great sales culture, CRM technology, etc.
  • Operations Strengths: Our operational systems allow us to deliver high quality at low cost.
  • Financial Strengths: Our balance sheet is strong and our cash flow is predictable.

As we list these strengths what will arise will be “non obvious” wisdoms as to the likelihood of a successful pursuit of the considered opportunity and perhaps more valuably...

...“aha” moments as to other, more appropriate opportunities for the business to potentially pursue.

“Potentially” is the important word here, because in addition to the opportunity passing an internal acid test, it must also pass an “external” one too, with questions like:

Market. How big is the market for the opportunity? How expensive will it be to pursue?

Customer. Who are its customers? How pressing is their need? How hard are they to reach?

Competition.  In our global age, by far the most important question - and not coincidentally the one that most executives do the worst job in asking - how strong and formidable is the competition?

What advantages - first-to-market, brand, relationship, cost structure, etc. - does the competition have that we will need to match and beat?

What points of differentiation must we build and emphasize to successfully compete and win?

As we honestly ask these competitive questions, very often discouragement can set in.

Everything can just seem really hard.

But this sad feeling is actually a good thing.

Because as we work through the discouragement we really learn if we have an opportunity worth pursuing or just a passing fancy.

If it is just a passing fancy, then we will quickly move on to the next bright shining object that passes our way.

But if it is an actual opportunity, then the internal and external challenges that present themselves to pursue it will embolden us to roll up our sleeves and go for it.

For sure, successfully pursuing any new business opportunity is hard.

But let's never confuse hard with impossible.

By properly performing these internal and external acid tests, we can distinguish between hard and impossible...

...and then relentlessly put forward our best energy toward going for it, crushing the competition, and winning! 

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5 Benefits and 5 Keys to Raising Crowdfunding


 

Crowdfunding is getting a group of regular individuals to collectively fund your venture. And when I say "regular individuals" I am contrasting them to professional investors and lenders like banks, venture capitalists and angel investors.

Clearly, Crowdfunding gives the key benefit of providing funding to your business. But, I have found other key benefits. Below I list those benefits as well as 5 keys to successfully raising Crowdfunding.

5 Benefits of Crowdfunding

1. Market Research

Pre-selling your product is incredible market research. If people buy it, then your marketing message is on target and there is a real need for your product or service.

If people don't buy it, then maybe a market doesn't exist, or you need to adjust your marketing message or target market.

In either case, getting this market research BEFORE raising or trying to raise a ton of money is invaluable. It allows you to test whether you have a winner before going through this process.

2. Built-in Customer Base

When you get others to fund you via Crowdfunding, you build a customer base. If you provide a good product or service, these customers will be prone to buy more products and services from you (the same products, upgrades and/or new products you develop) in the future.

3. Case Studies/Testimonials

Showing case studies and testimonials from customers is a great way to convince new customers to buy from you. And you can get these case studies and testimonials from those customers you gain from Crowdfunding (assuming you delivered them the product/service and they liked it).

4. Word of Mouth Marketing

People who fund your company will tell their friends about it. Particularly if you make them feel like founders/initial investors (which you can easily do via email and on your website).

Done correctly, Crowdfunding can result in thousands of customers, most of whom can tell numerous friends and colleagues about your products and services. This word of mouth marketing can be worth millions of dollars.

5. PR

Local media sources are enamored with Crowdfunding as it's new and unique. As a result, countless entrepreneurs who have raised Crowdfunding have been profiled in local newspapers, radio shows and TV broadcasts.

So, with some legwork, raising Crowdfunding can get you lots of PR.

So, now that you understand the benefits of Crowdfunding, how do you raise it? Below are five keys.

5 Keys to Raising Crowdfunding


1. Inspire People

When you tell your "story" to potential crowdfunders, inspire them. Yes, they are investing in your product or service, but they are also investing in you. Give them an inspiring story about yourself and why you are building your company. Inspire them to want to help you.

2. Provide Value

When people crowdfund you, they need to get something in return, such as equity in your business or your promise to give them a certain quantity of the product or service you create. Make sure potential crowdfunders feel they are getting value for their investment. If not, they won't fund you.

3. Create Social Proof

Social proof is the psychological concept that if someone sees someone else doing something, they are more prone to do, or want to do, that same thing. For example, a line outside a bar shows social proof that the bar is hip/cool/the place to be, and inspires others to want to go inside.

Social proof can be created in Crowdfunding. Here's how. As soon as you launch your Crowdfunding project, get as many of your friends and family as possible to fund it. Then, when others that don't know you go to your Crowdfunding page, they will see that lots of other people have already funded you. This will make them much more likely to fund you too.

4. Market and Build Buzz

Even if you have the coolest company, product or service in the world, chances are that crowdfunders won't automatically beat a path to your door. Rather, you need to market your Crowdfunding raise. Email all your friends about it and tell them to do the same. Tell everyone on Facebook and Twitter about it. And so on. Even if your company is buzzworthy, you need to first create the critical mass of people who know about it and can spread the word. So make sure you do just that.

5. Don't Slow Down


Once you start getting more and more backers to your Crowdfunding campaign, don't just sit back and let the money roll in. Crowdfunding is a fixed-term capital raise. For example, on Kickstarter, your Crowdfunding campaign can only last 90 days. So, once those 90 days is up, you can't raise more money (you'd have to start and market a separate campaign later). So, during the campaign, try to raise as much money as possible. Communicate with those who have backed you. Thank them and tell them to tell their friends to back you too. And make sure they don't have "buyer's remorse" - assure them that you remain steadfast in achieving the vision you laid out when you convinced them to back you.

Crowdfunding is an exciting new source of funding with many benefits. To get it, prepare yourself and follow these steps.

 

Want Crowdfunding for your business? Check out Crowdfunding Formula. The program is a series of videos I recorded that walk you through each of the 14 steps to raising rewards-based Crowdfunding. Many of you have already joined the program and raised money. If you haven't, click here to get Crowdfunding for your business now!

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