Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The conversation I had the other day started like many others I have with entrepreneurs.
"How can I help you?" I asked.
"I need money to grow my business," he said.
"So how far along is your business right now?" I replied.
Now, here is where things got a little strange.
In most cases, the entrepreneur says that they are just starting out. Or that they have been around for a year or two and have some customers and a nice revenue base.
But this entrepreneur responded, "Well, we're 7 years old and projected to do $120 million in revenue this year."
??? No, this was not the response I was expecting.
So, why does a company that's doing over $100 million in revenue need capital? To buy a competitor? To build market share since it's selling products at a loss?
While these are two valid reasons why more established companies constantly need capital, this company was actually very profitable and not looking for acquisitions.
So, why then did this company require capital?
Because it was growing too quickly and hadn't financially planned for that. You see, the company was manufacturing and selling products at a nice profit, but it needed to pay its manufacturing costs 90 to 120 days prior to when it received payment from its customers.
The result is a cash crunch.
The company has lots of outstanding orders. But it can't fulfill them since it can't lay out the cash to manufacture the goods. This is extremely frustrating for the entrepreneur, and potentially lethal (if customers decide to switch to a competitor).
Now, there are two key ways around this problem.
One, as discussed in Growthink's Definitive Guide to Creative & Alternative Financing Sources, is customer financing, whereby the customer pays for the product upfront or more quickly in return for some benefit (equity or price discounts).
The other is getting outside capital to solve the cash crunch.
The underlying issue here that you must understand is that "cash flow" is very different than "profitability."
Profitability compares your revenues to your costs.
On the other hand, cash flow determines when, where and at what times cash is coming into and cash is leaving your company. And without proper cash flow projections, a fast growing company can find itself in big trouble.
That's why it's critical that all companies, as part of their business planning process, prepare a Cash Flow Statement or forecast. And in fact, companies should prepare cash flow forecasts every month if not every quarter.
This is particularly important for companies who expect significant growth or those with seasonal sales fluctuations.
Your cash flow statement is roughly calculated as follows: Cash Flow From Operations minus Cash Invested in Equipment plus Cash Received from Outside Financing.
It gets a little more complicated than this, since Cash Flow From Operations includes things such as whether your accounts receivable (how much money you are owed from customers) is going up or down, etc.
So, the key takeaway is this - do NOT risk bankrupting or slowing the growth of your business because you don't forecast your cash flow statement every quarter or month.
If you need help, the financial model portion of Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template has a full, plug & play, financial model which includes your Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement, so you can accurately project what your monthly cash flow will be.
Importantly, this will ensure that you can get financing, as needed, well BEFORE the months when you need it (and not risk your company's future).
Here's the link to Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template - http://www.growthink.com/products/business-plan-template.
Written by Christiana Moffa on Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Why Every Entrepreneur Should Wear a Top Hat
Last week, I had the great honor of attending the annual Inc. 500/5000 Conference, which celebrates the fastest-growing companies in the United States. Surrounded by the country's most inspired and innovative entrepreneurs, I was constantly amazed at what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it. Truthfully, I took a look back at my life and career and thought, "Should I be doing more? Am I inspiring others?"
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I just read this really interesting story about Dr. Doreen Orion in Psychology Today and wanted to share it with you.
Dr. Doreen Orion is a psychologist, as is her husband, Tim.
That's why she truly thought her husband was insane when he proposed that they give up everything and travel the country in a converted bus for a year.
But after two years of being nudged to do it, Dr. Orion finally gave in.
So, off they went around the country in their bus. And, during that time, they experienced it all... from a fire, a flood, an armed robbery and finding themselves in a nudist RV park.
Was it worth it?
According to Dr. Orion the answer is a whopping YES. In fact, enough so that she and her husband have decided to sell their home and live on their bus full-time.
So, what did she find? What did she learn?
Dr. Orion learned that "being comfortable" is not all that great. She said, "I hadn't understood how important it is to keep stretching myself, to keep trying new things. A certain spark I hadn't even known was missing suddenly came back into our lives."
The key for me is this -- it is the process of making yourself uncomfortable and stretching yourself when real personal growth and progress is made. As an entrepreneur, you MUST do things that make you uncomfortable. You can not let fear get the best of you.
Consider Johnny Carson who is well known for his severe stage fright. Fortunately that didn't stop him.
And consider the millions of great entrepreneurs who had the courage to develop their business plans and launch their business to the world.
Now, if you haven't truly launched your business, that is, if you haven't developed your business plan and raised capital (if needed for your business), then now is the time to do it.
And, to "make you an offer you can't refuse" (to borrow the line from the great mafia movies), until this Thursday at 5PM EST, I have a really special offer for you.
The offer is this:
For just $1, you can instantly download Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template and get a 14-day trial to GrowthinkUniversity.com
To learn more, and take us up on this $1 special offer, click the link below to watch a video that explains it all:
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Thursday, September 17, 2009
The other day I was given a badly-needed, private webinar by John Moccia, Technology & Venture Capital Practice Leader at Rollins Insurance, which is a member of TechAssure.
John has been working with venture capital firms and emerging ventures for many years to make sure they are properly protected. And he was gracious enough to give me a private presentation (which we recorded as a video) regarding the insurance needs at the four key stages of an emerging company's lifecycle:
Stage 1 - Formation/R&D
Stage 2 - Growth Phase
Stage 3 - Mature Company/IPO
Stage 4 - Public/Fully Developed Company
I think all of you will find tons of value in this presentation, particularly as it relates to Stage 1 and Stage 2, where most of you currently are.
John went through each of the key types of insurance that entrepreneurs need during these phases. He discussed numerous types of insurance that you must be aware of, including:
• General Liability
• Property Coverage
• Business Interruption Coverage
• Workers Compensation & Disability
• Errors & Omissions
• Directors and Officers Liability
• Crime Coverage
• Global Companion Policy
• Employee Benefits including medical, dental, 401k, life and disability coverages
• Key Man Life Insurance
Importantly, John not only talked about what each of these insurance policies are, but he explained when you need them and when you don't, and gave great tips regarding finding the right insurance policies for your company (and what to look out for).
Now, I'll be the first to admit that buying insurance for your company is not the most important part of being an entrepreneur. But getting the right insurance is part of being a sophisticated entrepreneur.
And in fact, several types of insurance are required when reaching key milestones such as getting your first office, raising capital, and expanding geographically. So, it's important to understand the key insurance issues and plan accordingly.
You can watch the video below:
If you need to contact John or Rollins, his contact information is on the last slide of the video.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing someone who I really admire - Dr. Basil Peters.
What I really like about Basil is that he's had success in so many positions. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded Nexus Engineering, which he grew to over 300 employees and sold to Scientific Atlanta.
He's also had success as a venture capitalist as CEO of the venture capital fund, BC Advantage Funds. And he is a successful angel investor, and co-founder and CEO of an angel fund called Fundamental Technologies II.
Basil also writes a blog on best practices for angel investors and entrepreneurs at www.AngelBlog.net and he is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Simon Fraser University where he spent 15 years as an Adjunct Professor of Engineering Sciences.
And finally, Basil is the author of a great book on exit strategies called Early Exits: Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors.
So, with this wealth of experience, I knew that I would learn a ton from the interview, and more importantly, be able to pass on several nuggets of wisdom to other entrepreneurs.
And he delivered.
In fact, Basil made one statement during the interview that I've thought about nearly every day since we spoke. Here's what he said:
"...So I've come to believe that it's a law. I believe that successful entrepreneurs have mentors, and I also believe that it's the most controllable success factor - it's the single thing entrepreneurs can do that would dramatically improve their chances of success that they can control."
An entrepreneur's most controllable success factor. Those are pretty strong and pretty wise words. Let's think about this. From the perspective of a proven entrepreneur and investor, having a mentor is one of the smartest thing an entrepreneur can do to improve their chances of success.
And Basil told me that virtually every successful entrepreneur that he has met has had either a formal or informal mentor.
So, why wouldn't every entrepreneur have a mentor?
Let's start with me. I don't have a formal person that I call my mentor and who considers me their mentee. But I have had several informal mentors. An uncle who's a successful business man. Mega successful Growthink clients (I define "mega successful" as having exited companies for $100 million or more) who I've worked very closely with for years. And professors who have taught me and answered my numerous questions over time.
Now for those of you entrepreneurs who do not have mentors, I'm going to give you a hard time....Let's go over some excuses you might have:
Unfortunately, none of these excuses are valid.
Finding a mentor shouldn't take all that much time, and this time will possibly have the greatest ROI of all your time investments.
Regarding fear of getting rejected, you'll simply have to overcome this. The fact is that you probably will get rejected by some potential mentors. That's ok. But you can't be afraid to ask. And to persevere until you find a great mentor.
Like everything else in entrepreneurship, rarely does your first effort work as planned. You need to persevere and keep trying.
Now finally, with regards to not knowing who to ask, I believe that any business person who has achieved success and who you respect and admire can make a great mentor.
Wow, 500 words so far, and I've only touched on one of Basil's great points. To get many other great insights from Dr. Basil Peters, listen to the interview.
Click below to hear excerpts from the interview:
To download the full interview and/or transcript click here.
Written by Jay Turo on Sunday, September 13, 2009
Did you know that the current stock market rally, which has seen the S&P 500 rise over 54% from its low of 676 on March 9th, is the greatest in history?
Lazlo Birinyi, founder of Birinyi Associates, notes that since March the S & P has risen 0.31%/day on average.
This is three times faster than the previous fastest recovery in 1982, which averaged an increase of 0.12% per day.
He calls it the "Usain Bolt of markets. We just blew through the records."
Tracking the uptick in the market has been rising consumer and economic confidence.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was up in August to its highest level since December 2007.
And the Discover Business Watch Small Business Confidence measure jumped last month to its highest level since February 2008.
How to Take Advantage?
The problem is, of course, first determining if you've missed the rally, and then how to translate this improving business sentiment into opportunity for you.
For those of us that aren't Washington politicians or C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies, the best pathway to do so is via entrepreneurship and via involvement in private companies.
But, and it is a very key but, you have to know what you're doing. As the famous saying goes, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Quite simply, when it comes to investing in private companies you must "do it right or don't do it at all."
Best regards, and look forward to connecting.
P.S. There are 50% and more rallies every year in various private equity sectors. You just need to know where to look.
And before you start looking, you need to know what to look for.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Thursday, September 10, 2009
As a reader of my blog, I'm sure you're aware of my "Definitive Guide to Creative & Alternative Financing Sources." The Guide presents 28 unique ways to raise money to start or grow your business.
I knew the Guide was really good (since it took me so long to create and since buyers have continually praised it), but I didn't know just how impactful it would be.
Well, a month ago, CNN found out about the Guide, and a CNN Money Reporter contacted me.
What resulted was a full story on ONE of my creative and alternative financing sources: customer financing.
You can read the article here: http://money.cnn.com/2009/09/08/smallbusiness/barnraising_a_business.fsb/
What I liked most about the article is that Helaine (the reporter) gave numerous examples of customer financings. This will hopefully give you more ideas on how customer financing might be right for your business.
If customer financing is not right for you, or if you want to tap 27 more unique and proven alternative and creative financing sources, download Growthink's "Definitive Guide to Creative & Alternative Financing Sources."
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, September 7, 2009
Medtronic. Cardinal Health. Guidant. Becton, Dickinson. St. Jude Medical. Hospira. Fresenius. Varian Medical.
Why Should You Care?
Is there money being made in the sector now - even in this tough economy? You bet your life there is.
America's spending on healthcare will top $2.5 trillion this year alone, accounting for more than 17% of the nation's spending, and may double in the next decade.
And Danaher, the industrial conglomerate, made big moves in the sector by buying MDS's analytical-technologies business for $650 million.
P.S. Medical devices is a bright and hot sector in the midst of a mostly dismal technology investment climate.
Stop crying in your soup about how tough it is out there and do something about it.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Friday, September 4, 2009
I recently had the opportunity to interview Jack Burkman, the founder and president of Burkman Associates LLC.
You may have heard of Burkman since he appears frequently on ABC, CNBC, MSNBC, ESPN, and many other networks. He was also a former FOX News political analyst.
Jack Burkman has been raising capital for companies using an extremely rare technique - government lobbying.
According to Burkman, money for many types of companies can be raised from congress and government agencies (e.g., Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, etc.).
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I recently had the opportunity to speak with expert entrepreneur and founder/CEO of Lending Club, Renaud Laplanche.
Ask The VC
CCA - Art of Factoring
David Beisel - Genuine VC
How to Change the World
Kedrosky's Infectious Greed
Nate Whitehill dot Com
SpringWise - Cool Stuff!
Susan Wu - Venture Capital
Venture Capital Update
Young Go Getter
Products & Services
Growthink Around The Web
Best of Growthink
Looking for Opportunities Now? How to Write a Business Plan for Raising Venture Capital Top Seven Capital Raising Mistakes 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan Top 10 Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) Mistakes The Secrets to Their Success? 25 Quotes From Famous Entrepreneurs The 6 Untold Reasons Why Businesses Fail 7 Entrepreneurs Whose Perseverance Will Inspire You Top 7 Myths About Starting a Business Business Exit Strategy: Planning to Sell Your Business How to Make a Business Plan Capital Raising Resource Center Investing in Private Equity via Your IRA