Growthink Blog

8 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Business


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The lifecycle of most businesses from the owner's perspective is generally the same. First, you start or buy the business. Then, you grow the business. And finally, at some point, you exit the business.

During these second and third phases the differences between higher quality and lower quality entrepreneurs is really apparent. Specifically, the best entrepreneurs are able to maximize the value of their businesses and exit them at a price substantially greater than the price they paid to acquire or start the business.

So, what do these entrepreneurs do that increases the value of their businesses to themselves and potential acquirers. Here are the eight most common things they do.

1. They position their companies in a clearly-defined niche

Your business must be the best it can be at what it does, without trying to be everything to everyone. A business that knows its customer segments, their needs and language, and how to solicit a response from them is a lot more valuable than one that is a mixture of everything, or an unknown in its market.

2. They coach their teams to run the business without them

Could other people ever run your business without you? They'll have to, if you're selling! So why not make this your goal from Day One?

Make an organizational chart of how your business will look when it's time to sell it. List all the various workers in marketing, operations, and those they report to.  It's okay if it's just you or a handful of people currently filling all those roles. Doing this will help you organize who is going to do what in your business before you hire a new person.

Then, over time, you can find other people to fill those positions one by one until you're out of the picture.

3. They build relationships with customers

Goodwill, such as your reputation and brand in the minds of your current and prospective customers, is considered an asset on your company's balance sheet. You build this over time by treating people right and maintaining good relationships.

If you intend to sell your business someday, or if you just want to have the option, this is something you have to make a priority throughout the business's life. You can't just start doing it well suddenly in the final year. Relationships and recognition take time.

4. They make sure their businesses are stable

Make sure you're not overly dependent on any one customer, vendor, employee, or anything else. Diversify your strengths. If you have any "whale" customers that make up a large portion of your business, try to get at least 80% of your business from other people.

The new owner does not want to take the reins and have revenues drop in half in the event your biggest customer leaves.

5. They maximize their revenues

This one's self-evident, but deserves to be repeated. Make sure you leverage the 4 proven ways to increase your revenues: getting more customers, increasing your average order size, get customers to buy more frequently, and finding new ways to monetize your customers and visitors.

A company with higher revenues and which shows growing revenues will be more valuable and attractive to buyers.

6. They hold expenses accountable


You boost your net profit (and therefore the value) by reducing your expenses. However, no one ever shrank themselves into wealth. You're not going to grow your business by keeping expenses lower-but the numbers will increase as it grows.

Your goal is to keep the percentages the same, such as keeping advertising at 20% of your revenues whether earnings are $100,000 or $1,000,000 per year.  

Basically, you'll want to make sure that budgets are made and followed, to keep spending within projected limits and to avoid costs creeping up that don't generate more revenue in return.

7. They keep great records


Keep excellent records of everything for the new owner-your files, databases, customer communications, marketing materials, financial records, employee agreements-everything.

Committing to do this now will make your life so much easier between now and the time you sell. Keep good records for your own efficiency, protection, and to make your business look a lot more attractive to buyers than one where all the records are filed away in the old owner's head.

8. They develop a plan for when it's "done" and ready to sell


I don't want you to have plans on top of plans, but each of these will take certain actions to make them happen.  So here's what to do:  Add these end results into your existing business plan, and use your best judgment when choosing how to make each of them happen in your company.

When it's all said and done, the next few years are going to go by whether you maximize your business' value or not. At the end of, say, 5 years, would you rather have a stable, attractive, polished business ready to sell for top dollar, or be left taking what you can get for what you have?

If it seems like a lot, remember you have until the time you sell to take care of these things. You don't have to do it all now! Just add these elements I described to your vision of what you want your company to be, and keep your eye on it until the big day finally comes.


My "Aha" Moment in San Francisco


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This weekend I had the very good fortune to attend Ryan Deis and Perry Belcher's Traffic and Conversion Summit in downtown San Francisco.

Headlined by speakers including Guy Kawasaki and William Shatner, it was an awesome gathering of 2,000+ of the best, brightest, and most accomplished from the worlds of online marketing and sales.

 “Aha” moments were aplenty for all who made the effort to attend.  Here were a few of mine:

These are the Worst AND the Best of Times for New Client Acquisition. 

To large part because of gatherings like this - where the best SEO, SEM / PPC, landing page, copy-writing, and e-mail marketing strategies, tactics, and techniques are shared and then used (and in volume) by creative and aggressive marketers worldwide - it is more challenging than ever to attract new customers online.

Today’s online buyers have developed a killer combination of hardened skepticism AND sky high expectations as to pricing, product and service features and benefits, and to performance guarantees.

Now for the ambitious online seller this represents not just a great challenge, but an incredible opportunity as well.

You see, while these expectations have driven up customer acquisition costs, they have also driven the cost of a competitor acquiring that customer away from you even higher.

Now, this is where most companies who sell online get off track.

The very nature of the web - with its seductive ease of marketing to prospective customers worldwide - often causes the very dangerous myopia of neglecting those so good and honorable folks that are your customers now.

It is a bit funny that this was my big "aha" moment from a conference gathering of the some of the world’s biggest, baddest, and most aggressive online marketers.

And this led to my second aha.

The truth is already out there.

In this brave new world of ours where tens of hundreds of thousands of online businesses worldwide put their best stuff online for all the world to see…

…that imitation is not just the highest form of flattery, but it is great business strategy as well.

Now yes, what to do with all of this stuff can often feel overwhelming.

And this is where events like the Traffic and Conversion Summit are so valuable. 

Ryan and Perry and their merry band curate and interpret this global treasure trove of strategies, techniques, and tactics for you.

AND they give you a framework for how to do so yourself.

And finally, the energy one draws from a gathering of 2,000+ of decidedly private sector, decidedly ambitious Internet entrepreneurs and executives…
 
...animates in one the energy and inspiration to take all of this knowledge and translate it into that most precious of all business assets.

Opportunity.


Ray Lewis and Nick Saban: Effort is Eternal


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I usually hesitate to analogize from the world of sports that of business.

In contrary to many motivational videos, these are two very different realms of human endeavor and there is not a clear line between the attributes and mindsets that drive success in one as compared to the other.

This past week, however, I was moved by the stories and coverage of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ retirement after 17 seasons of professional football, and those of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban winning his third BCS national championship in four years.

Watching the various retrospectives and tributes to Lewis, the overriding takeaway was how his "always on” persona inspires those around him with feelings of action, of possibility, and of strong positive intent.

This kind of energy and presence is indispensable in very many aspects of business, but none so obviously more so than in sales and presentation.

Especially in this technologically distracted world of ours, the ability to consistently project high positive emotion is a key success factor and competitive advantage.

Now, a lucky few of us are blessed with a naturally "high motor" that can go on and on without a lot of maintenance.

But the vast majority of us have to work at it.

To eat, sleep, and exercise right.

And to feed one's mind and spirit with equally nutritional fare.

Now, when it comes working at it, Nick Saban is as great a role model as he is a legendary football coach.

While for some it was a bit off-putting to hear - just minutes after his team won the championship - - the notoriously "always on-message" coach already start talking about next season, for me it was refreshing.

Because in Nick Sabin’s world it is the work itself - as opposed to any glory or accolades or money that might come from it - that is the real reward.

And that as this work and its example catalyzes the success and growth of others, it is the satisfaction of so doing that is far sweeter and more gratifying than any personal triumph or celebration could ever be.

Ray Lewis. Nick Sabin.

Strong role models not because of their far greater number of wins than losses but because, in the words of Lewis himself, wins come and go but it is effort that is eternal.

And this effort, when taken to its methodical extreme, results in a life and career like that of Nick Saban's.

Which, of course, leads to triumphs and transformations and joys for millions to experience.

Just ask any Alabama football fan if you have any doubt about that.


How to Raise Funding From Venture Capitalists


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Venture capitalists (VCs), unlike angel investors, are professional investors that invest other people's money. Similar to angel investors, their goal is to earn a solid return on this money. In fact, VCs are judged and compensated by the performance of their investments. As a result, they are extremely rigorous in their investment decision-making process.

Here's how VCs earn returns for their investors:

1. Finding high growth companies
2. Making investments in them at favorable terms
3. Guiding and nurturing them
4. Enacting a liquidity event. This typically occurs by selling the company or taking it public.

VCs swing for the fences and only invest in companies they think can give them a "10X" return or 10 times their money back. This is because even with all their relevant experience, the average venture capital firm will lose money on half the companies they invest in and only break even on a third.  Where VCs make their money is on the approximately 20% of companies they invest in that see explosive growth and provide remarkable returns of 10 times or more on their investment.

So, the first criteria when seeking venture capital is that you can offer the potential of a 10X return to them.

The second criterion is that is your company must have significant market potential of $50 million, $100 million or more. Now, you might think that if a venture capitalist invested $100K in your company and got back $1 million (a 10X return) that they would be happy. This is not the case. This is because venture capitalists like to be "hands on" on their investments and help the companies they fund (called "portfolio companies"). And since each partner in the venture capital firm can only nurture so many portfolio companies, they want to invest in fewer companies, each of which can provide not only a 10X return, but a check of $50 million or more when it reaches liquidity.

To summarize, when approaching venture capitalists, remember the 3 hurdles:

1. Their primary goal is to make significant money from investing in you
2. You need to show them how they can earn a 10X return
3. You need to show them how your company can eventually be valued at $50 million or more

Now, if you meet these criteria, you should be a good fit for venture capital. But, raising this type of funding it is virtually impossible if you don't know what you're doing and haven't done it before. So follow this plan:

1. Develop a list of VC firms.

Start by creating a list of venture capital firms.

2. Narrow your list.


Each venture capital firm invests based on particular characteristics (e.g., some only invest in software firms), so you need to make sure your list only includes VCs that are interested in your type of venture.

3. Make sure the VC is active.


Many VC firms that have websites aren't active. That is, they aren't making new investments. You don't want to waste your time contacting and talking with these firms.

4. Find the appropriate person to contact.


This is critical. Venture capital firms are comprised of individual partners and associates. If you contact the wrong one, you'll be dead in the water.

5. Send the VC partner or associate a "teaser" email.

You don't want to send the VC a full business plan or executive summary initially. Rather, you need to send them a "teaser" email to see if they are interested. You don't want to "over shop" your deal.

Once the VC "bites" on your teaser email, the next step is generally to send them your business plan. Following that you'll do an in-person presentation(s), receive and negotiate a term sheet, and then sign a formal agreement and receive your funding check.

The venture capital raising process is a lot of work, but once you receive their multi-million check with which you can dramatically grow your company, you'll agree it's worth the effort.

 

Suggested Resource: In Venture Capital Pitch Formula, you'll learn exactly how to find and contact venture capitalists, exactly what information to include in your presentations, and how to secure your financing. This video explains more.


2013 Words To Live By


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The ending of one year and the beginning of another is a natural time to take stock of all that was accomplished in the past 12 months, and usually more excitedly, to dream and to plan on the great promise of the New Year.

In this spirit, below are a few of my favorite quotes regarding dreaming, planning, goal-setting, and "going for it."

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'"

- George Bernard Shaw

(My comment: reflects the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit)

"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(My comment: the "fierce urgency of now" must inform and drive us all now more than ever.  It is too fast-moving a world, too merciless a marketplace, to in any way dawdle or delay.)

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts"

- Winston Churchill

(My comment: The most accomplished executives and entrepreneurs that I have worked with have impressed me as much with their great fortitude as they have with their “glamorous” attributes - brilliance, connections, salesmanship, etc.

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

(My comment: This is the essence of leadership in modern, always morphing collaboration-driven organizations. The best managers build alignment and focused energy around shared goals and objectives.

"Goals are dreams with deadlines."

- Diana Scharf Hunt

(Our comment: The great ones dream it now do it NOW!)

Happy New Year, and may 2013 be the best year of all of our lives!


9 Key Tips for a Balanced Work and Personal Life in 2013


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Isn't it funny how doing less can sometimes be the best way to get a handle on things?

Maintaining a healthy life balance is vital; not only for your health and overall well-being, but also for increased productivity in your growing business! If you're a balanced person, you are very likely to achieve your long-term goals. Because the odds are, you're going to run into both ups and downs over time. That's business.

So what would a balanced life look like for an entrepreneur? Can you recognize when one is or isn't? How can we have a balanced life when our schedules are so overwhelming?

Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that will help you regain balance and control of your life. When you will see the first results, you will be a lot more motivated to work hard (when it's time to work), and play hard during the time you choose to reserve for that vital part of living.

The secret lies in changing one thing at a time; you need to make small adjustments in order to see what works for you and what doesn't. Slowly but surely, you will get a brand new set of positive and healthy habits!

Here you will find 9 simple yet effective tips that will help you regain control of your life:

1. The weekend is all yours!

As soon as Friday afternoon comes, simply get away from everything that bothers or stresses you. I've heard all sorts of excuses - I know it's hard, trust me, but try to do it completely at least one day per week.

You will be amazed to see how good you will feel without the hustle and bustle of projects and to-do's. Spend some time with your close friends and family: a nice dinner, TV/movies, and even some board games will help you relax after a tensed week at work! I figure it will be waiting for me Monday, so why not tackle it in a relaxed state of mind?

[Note: if your business operates on weekends, figure out your slowest day and at least take that one day off; you need time off!]

2. Make a selection

Write a list and get rid of everything you do not need or that does not add value to your business or life anymore. Simply eliminate everything that has become a stress factor for you and is no longer worth the investment...no mercy!

3. Don't neglect your health!


Everybody knows that it is better to prevent than to treat, so make sure you pay attention to your health. Stress can have devastating effects on both your physical and mental health, and that reflects on your life. Eat healthier, sleep more than you used to, and do some kind of fun, physical activity regularly-your customers and clients will see the difference in no time!

Importantly, put your health into your routine. For me, everyday after work I head straight to the gym or go for a run outside. Because this is part of my daily routine it's easy to do, and I always do it.

4. Get rid of toxins

The term "toxins" refers not only to what we eat or breathe, but also to those toxic people that surround us. Keep an open mind and gather positive, cheerful people around you. Their positive energy is addictive!

This also includes avoiding toxic people; not always easy, but it has to be done.

5. Spend some time alone

If you have a busy schedule like I do, then you certainly know how difficult it is to spend some time on your own. As difficult as it may be, spending some time alone is of utmost importance-it not only relieves stress, but it also encourages creativity! Do something relaxing, something you enjoy doing. You deserve some time for yourself.

6. Strengthen connections with friends and family


They are the most important people in your life and they deserve a place in your busy schedule. Talk to your friends and family, invite them over for dinner, have a cup of coffee with them. Your loved ones are the constants throughout the fast changes of your growing business.

No successful person has ever told me they wish they had spent less time with their friends and family during their careers. Rather, it's the opposite, they all wished they had spent more time.

7. Treat yourself! You are important, never forget that


Get a new haircut, buy a new shirt, get your nails done, schedule a massage, or go shopping! Isn't that why we got into business in the first place...to have some perks here and there? Being dedicated to your business doesn't mean being austere. Being dedicated to your own well-being, however, will absolutely help you perform at work.

8. Expand your horizons

Leaders make better decisions when they have knowledge in a variety of fields and topics. Try to know more about the world that surrounds you-take a stroll in the park, visit a new town or country, attend a local performance, read or watch something outside of your norms. Try something you haven't done before!

9. Last but not least, remember to laugh

Laugh as loud as you can! Have fun, play or learn new jokes and you will see how beautiful life really is! Being a successful entrepreneur is a long and hard journey; you need to laugh and have fun along the journey!

Keep these nine tips in mind as you celebrate the New Year, and make them part of your life in 2013 so you achieve more and have more fun doing it!


Why It's Critical to Think Big


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One problem many entrepreneurs and small business owners run into is that they are simply thinking too small. I often have readers writing to me asking for help getting their business ideas off the ground. I also often hear from folks who have run their small businesses into the ground.

You may have heard of the expression "Shoot for the moon...even if you miss it you'll land among the stars." Plan big and even if you only get halfway there, you're still further than if you planned small.

Here are five key areas where it's possible to think too small - and doom your business to failure.

1. Too Small of a Niche

Is your niche too small? Finding a popular market for your business to target is critical to your success, but sometimes people narrow down their niche too much.

For example, while doggy dental products could be a wonderful niche (as almost any dog owner can attest) you could narrow your focus down to a certain type of dog (such as German Shepherds). But going for one specific breed might be taking it too far, as it would reduce the pool of available buyers by 90% or more (my best estimate on dog breed ownership percentages :).

2. Too Small of a Target Market

Is your target market too small? If you are looking only at one community or small geographic region then you may well doom your product or service to failure.

It is far too easy to saturate a small market and for any marketing mistakes to end your campaign before it gets off the ground. In today's economy, with the availability of global marketing you need to think bigger when you are planning your target market.

Even if dominating your local market is your initial goal, make sure that you're ultimately heading for something greater or you might become a big fish in an inadequately small pond.

3. Too Small of a Budget

Is your budget too small? You don't need a million dollar advertising budget, but you should have some seed money to get your business and its marketing campaign off the ground.

It is possible to build a business from nothing but it is also a lot more difficult and you might find yourself making some mistakes that cost you a lot more down the road than putting a little money up front.

In fact, when planning a project or borrowing money, come up with a figure of how much you'll need and then double it! No one wants to come back to the well later when they run out.

4. Too Small of a Schedule

Is your schedule too small? Do you have enough time to devote to your business?  Starting, running, and growing a business takes time. Some people get swept up in the planning and dreaming stages and never really start their business. Other people start before they have completely planned everything out and quickly get mired down by unexpected difficulties.

Some others do everything right in the planning and startup but once the business is running they get overwhelmed by day-to-day business and never think about ways to improve and grow their business.

Schedule some time right now to work on growing your business - launching whatever the next project is that will increase your profits and/or the value of your company.

5. Too Small of a Mindset

Is your mindset too small? You need to open up your mind's eye to see new possibilities, and continually seek new opportunities to find new customers, new potential partners, new ideas for products/services, and new marketing opportunities.

Flexibility and adaptability are key to survival in today's rapidly-changing business climate and you always need to have new ideas cooking to grow and expand your market and your business.

This means raising your head up and out of the trenches once in a while. Yes, you might need to dodge the occasional missile lobbed your way but this is the only way to see those opportunities.

If you do your best to avoid these 5 ways of thinking small, you'll have removed the single largest obstacle to growing your business...yourself.


I'm Going To Be The Richest Black Woman In America


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"I always knew I'd be a millionaire by age thirty-two. In fact, I am going to be the richest black woman in America."

Oprah Winfrey said this in 1987.

And then it took her 19 years to accomplish this goal.

So, how did Oprah achieve this incredible feat and become one of the richest and most successful people in the world.

Well, the first thing she did is set her goal. Seems simple enough, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs don't have concise goals that they physically write down (or type and print out).

Do you have a written goal for your company? If not, create one now using these two guidelines:


1. Be specific. Of course you would like your company to be successful. But how successful? Do you want it to generate $5 million? $100 million? Do you want to eventually sell it? If so, for how much? And when?

The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you will be to achieve them. And, because they are specific, you will be able to measure your progress towards achieving them.

2. Make your goals realistic. This does not mean you can't set a goal of taking your company public with a billion-dollar market capitalization. But such a goal would be unrealistic if you're running a single restaurant with no plans to develop new locations.

So, make sure your goals are realistic with respect to your business. And go ahead, be aggressive. As Donald Trump said, "As long as your going to be thinking anyway, think big."

What Next?

Once you've set your long-term goals, the key is to break them into smaller pieces that you can attain in shorter periods of time. For example, over the past year, one of my key goals was to publish my book, Start At The End. In doing so, I created a series of smaller goals including:

  • Write the book proposal for the publisher
  • Outline the chapters
  • Write chapter one, chapter two, etc.
  • Edit the book
  • Send copies to reviewers in seeking testimonials
  • Create the interactive workbook
  • Create that book website

 

Completing all of these tasks took hundreds of hours over many months. But it got done, because I laid out the steps and methodically completed each one.

To do this in your business, figure out what you'd like to accomplish in the next year that will progress you towards your long-term goal (that you developed above). The key question being: what portion of your long-term goal can you accomplish in just one year?

For example, if you ultimate goal is to get to $20 million in annual revenues, what must your revenues be 12 months from now? And if you envision ultimately having 200 employees, how many must you hire and train within the next year?

Once you do this, you'll know what your ultimate goals are, and your goals for the next year. From here, you must continue to work backwards. What are your goals for the next quarter, next month, next week?

By creating your big goal and then breaking it down into smaller goals, you can ultimately figure out what you need to accomplish each and every day to move closer to achieving it. Because that's all you can control right now -- what you do today. And then tomorrow, you can control and do what needs to be done tomorrow. And so on.

As the New Year approaches, make sure you determine the ultimate goal for your business and your goals for next year. Then figure out your goal for next month. And then do whatever you can to accomplish that goal next month.

After doing that, you might adjust your ultimate and/or annual goals. That's fine. You will have made real progress, and whatever your goals, you will have moved closer to achieving them. Just like Oprah Winfrey did every day, week, month, quarter and year for 19 years.

If you'd like additional guidance on setting your ultimate goals and working backwards to create shorter term goals and an action plan for achieving them, pick up a free copy of my book, Start At The End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger And Faster By Reversing Their Business Plan.


The Power of Full Engagement


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I had the great good fortune this past weekend to co-host Growthink's third and final Business Blueprint Live event of the year.

This is a conference where entrepreneurs and business owners gather for three days and nights to dream, plan, and network as to how to best grow the revenues, increase the profits and better fulfill the missions of their businesses.

What is really neat is that because of its longer group and in-person format, there is time and space to really listen and, correspondingly, to be heard and to share best business practices, ideas, and inspirations for the New Year.

Golly - what a weekend!

The attendees that ventured from near and far and from the comforts of their homes and regular routines took a chance.

The chance that by "mixing it up a bit," that breakthroughs would follow.

And they did.

From a medical device entrepreneur having that flash of insight as to how to best position his business for a strategic sale, to the software entrepreneur reflecting on how best to integrate a traditional marketing channel (radio) with a burgeoning one (texting), new and powerful business ideas and tactics were hatched and committed to.

And I was reminded of an old wisdom that I forget way too often.

It goes like this: when there is something “nutritious” in my life and business that I am resisting, it is that thing that above all else I need and should be doing.

It could be getting up early and doing that workout.

Or not having that second glass of wine. 

Or sending those holiday cards.

Or taking that vacation.

Or, in business, making that call, writing that plan, structuring that partnership.

Going to that meeting, that conference.

And when you do, hold nothing back.

Don’t let any nagging doubts about whether this strategy, this decision, this job is the right one.

Just dive in.

Wasn't this so much at the essence of Steve Jobs' genius?  This full commitment to do with fierce excellence whatever it was that he was working on at that particular time?

I saw and felt this full engagement this weekend.

Those there were fully there.

And from this full engagement, millions of dollars of business and conceptual breakthroughs and lovely relationships naturally flowed.

And when I reflect on these amazing outcomes, and then when I think back to the resistance I felt of not wanting to organize, not wanting to go to the event…

Well, it hits home that so important wisdom that when I really don't want to do something that I know in my heart that I should…

…well that is the exact thing that I must do. 

And then let the magic happen.


The Skinny on Equity-Based Crowdfunding Opportunities


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The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (called the JOBS Act) was passed with support from Republicans and Democrats alike and signed by President Obama in April 2012.

In this article, I will give you an overview of the JOBS Act and most specifically its potential for equity-based crowdfunding, and give you an update on what's occurred since April.

[And for a little trivia, the term "the skinny" as used in my title was coined during World War II. During the war and for years thereafter, military orders in the Marine Corps were copied on paper that resembled the skin of an onion. It was extremely thin and fragile, and translucent in appearance. Orders written on them were referred to as "the skinny."]

The JOBS Act makes equity-based crowdfunding much easier

The JOBS Act makes it possible to raise funding from investors and donors through certain crowdfunding sites in exchange for equity in your company.

If you have tried to raise funds in the past by going a public offering, you'll know that it's expensive. Being able to bypass this is huge, especially if you are raising smaller amounts of funding.

The passing of the JOBS Act also means you won't have to seek out accredited investors specifically (people with incomes of $200,000 or more, or a net worth of $1,000,000 or more-not including their residence). You can receive funds from people of all income ranges, which makes the pool of potential investors MUCH bigger.

What's happened since April

When the JOBS Act was past in April, the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) was given until January 1, 2013 to propose the specific terms by which equity-based crowdfunding would operate.

For example, the SEC wants to make sure standards are in place with regards to how much money individual investors can invest (e.g., what portion of their annual income), the type and amount of information companies must show prospective investors, how to monitor the amount of money raised by individual companies, measures to protect against fraud, etc.

However, with just a couple weeks left before January 1, the SEC has not come to an agreement on how things will operate.

One key event which is probably both good and bad is that current SEC chairman Mary L. Schapiro announced last month that she will step down this month. Elisse Walter, one of the agency's commissioners is expected to fill the position. The bad news with regards to this changing of the guard is that it will most likely slow the finalization of equity-based crowdfunding laws beyond January 1st. The good news is that once Walter takes the helm, we can expect the SEC to come to decisions more quickly.

Massive Spike in Crowdfunding Websites


In January 2012, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, there were less than 900 websites whose names included the word "crowdfunding" in them.

Today, there are nearly 9,000 of them. So, once equity-based crowdfunding laws are set (probably within a few months), there will be many, many websites upon which entrepreneurs will be able to raise crowdfunding dollars.

Preparing for Crowdfunding


Whether you want to raise crowdfunding today via rewards-based crowdfunding, or wait until 2013 for equity-based crowdfunding, here are some things you can do:

1. Broaden your network: the key to Crowdfunding is marketing; the more people that trust and like you, and/or who are convinced you have a winner, the more money you will raise. So continue to network both online and offline to expand the network of people who know and like you.

2. If you're already in business, keep growing it:  As with any kind of funding, you will be in a much stronger position to ask for funds if you can demonstrate success in the past. So keep doing whatever you can to progress your business without funding.

3. Work on your business plan: Make sure you have a solid plan for how much funding you need, how you will spend it, and what effects it will have on your operations and revenues. You don't want to raise too much or too little, and once you raise your funding, you want to most effectively use it.

Crowdfunding is an extremely interesting and exciting new way to fund your business. It has grown dramatically as a funding source over the past two years and is poised to grow even more in the coming months and years once the JOBS Act laws are finalized.


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