Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Did you know that venture capital firms nearly always require the companies they fund to get key man insurance (KMI)?
Well, understanding the rationale behind this fact should give you insight into improving your business operations and structure.
To begin, Key Man Insurance or KMI is a life insurance policy covering a business owner, president or a key employee. The business is the beneficiary under the policy.
The fact that most venture capital firms require KMI explicitly shows that venture capital firms provide funding to PEOPLE, not firms or ideas. It is the people who are able to execute on the ideas. Remember that a good person with a mediocre idea is often much more successful than a poor person with a great idea.
What this does NOT mean is that you should rush out to purchase key man insurance if you are seeking venture capital. What it does mean is that you need to make sure that you have a management team that is worthy of KMI. A team that is so capable of achieving success that investors are actually frightened that their investment would be in jeopardy if something happened to them.
What it also means, and this applies even if you are not seeking venture capital, is that you should create systems to minimize the business risk of something happening to a key employee.
These systems can include:
You and your management team are the lifeblood of your business. You always need to be thinking about how to improve, protect and grow your team, as this will have the greatest impact on the long-term success, or lack thereof, of your business.
Written by Jay Turo on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Written by Jay Turo on Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I love Kiva. For those not familiar, Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending site – allowing individuals, primarily from developed countries, to lend directly to entrepreneurs in the developing world. The borrowers are in places like Cambodia, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Peru, and Tanzania – and primarily borrow to allow their very small businesses to expand and hire.
Written by Jay Turo on Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The old adage about the definition of insanity -- "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" -- has never been more applicable than it is right now with the crisis in our financial markets and our government's response thereto. The daily, depressing drama of the federal government's frenetic, "bailout flavor of the day" response mechanism would be comical if it wasn't so tragic, frustrating, and anger-inducing.
Sometimes I feel I went to bed one night in the United States of America and woke up in the U.S.S.R. in the midst of a "5-year plan." It is long-overdue time for Main Street America, for Small Business America, for Scientist's and Engineer's America, for Junior Achievement America, for Paper Route America, for Immigrant America, for eBay America, for Mary Kay America, for Franchise America, for Venture Capital America, for Startup America, for Entrepreneurial America to stand up and shout ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
Because they built this country. Because they represent and embody its best and most admirable and most idealistic qualities. And because if the Washington bureaucrats would just let them be and get out of their way they can and will dig this country out of its current hole far quicker, cheaper, and more fairly than via the banana republic cronyism that masquerades as policy in Washington these days.
The funny thing is, Entrepreneurial America has never been more vibrant, more creative, more productivity-building, more value-creating, than it is right now. With the collapse of the "Blue Chips," the playing field has never been more level, the competitive arena never more wide open, the cost of key business inputs (labor, rents, technology) never less than it is right now for entrepreneurs.
What these firms need to succeed is not government handouts or "stimulus," but simply good old-fashioned growth capital. And for this capital, these companies -- in such dynamic growth arenas as alternative & green energy, healthcare & biotechnology, digital media, and software -- are priced at "end-of-the-world" levels. In other words, as long as the world does not end, they will make themselves and their investors money.
So my suggestion to all of those in Entrepreneurial America: make yourself heard. Call and write your congressperson and senator. Email essays like this to your family, friends, and colleagues. Support your local small business. If you see a website of a business you like, write the company and tell them to keep on keeping on. Blog. Twitter. Post on YouTube. Shout out on Facebook. Because this is a fight for private enterprise and economic freedom and one that Entrepreneurial America, and the world for that matter, cannot afford to lose.
Read Jay's second article in this series - Entrepreneurial America, Part 2.
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Written by Growthink on Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For many businesses, internet marketing is the “low hanging fruit” -- the most-cost effective method for gaining and sustaining a competitive advantage.
However, most websites are poorly optimized for search engines and are not effectively designed to generate leads or produce sales.
That’s why we’re developing a new webinar that identifies common mistakes as well as proven strategies and tactics to accelerate your website’s growth and profitability.
In this upcoming webinar, Growthink co-founder and President Dave Lavinsky will reveal:
Reserve your spot in our upcoming internet marketing webinar.
Learn more about Growthink’s internet marketing services.
Written by Jay Turo on Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It is absolutely astounding how quickly the discussion around the appropriate government response to the economic crisis has morphed -- from one around whether it even makes sense, or is the proper thing to do, for government to bail out ailing financial and manufacturing firms -- to one simply around "how much," "how fast," and "how many."
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, February 24, 2009
What does the girl who rejected me at a dance when I was thirteen years old have to do with your ability to raise capital for your business? Well, it all has to do with psychology, human nature, and how you can leverage the two to attract capital. Watch the 4-minute video below to learn more:
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Monday, February 23, 2009
Yesterday, I received an interesting package in the mail. I opened it up and inside was a shoebox. And inside the shoebox was "The Dogball." The Dogball, as I found out, is a new toy for dogs, and the founder, based in France, was trying to get me to distribute it here in the United States.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sometimes it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. This is how I felt a few years ago when I was helping one of my clients raise VC (venture capital) funding. The client was an early-stage, Southern California-based networking company…
I started by creating what I felt was an awesome VC prospect list with 455 prospective investors.
The list looked like this (number of prospects in parentheses):
The list itself took me days (and a proprietary database) to compile. As any direct marketer knows (and raising capital is direct marketing), the quality of the list is everything. For example, if you’re trying to sell a franchise opportunity to folks at a nursing home, you’re not getting any buyers no matter how good the opportunity is!
Armed with my list and my teaser email (teaser email = solicits interest without giving away the farm), I started calling and emailing investors.
And I had lots of early success.
We had about 20 first meetings with strategic and venture capital investors. And the result... nothing.
We only got about 5 investors who explicitly said “no” but the others weren’t quite ready to write us a check.
So, naturally I started getting discouraged. As you can imagine, I had already invested over one hundred hours on this project and had no multi-million check to show for it.
But fortunately I remained persistent, and eventually one investor referred me to another investor (which, believe it or not, was not on my list of the top 455 prospective investors!!!!) who wrote us a $3 million check.
I bring up this story since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether or not there is VC funding out there right now.
The answer is an emphatic YES. It is out there. And like always, it takes great knowledge and persistence to get it (and probably now more than ever).
Here are the facts. According to the National Venture Capital Association, 3,808 ventures raised VC funding in 2008 totaling $28.3 billion. And, according to the Center for Venture Research, 70,000 ventures were funded by angel investors last year totaling $37.2 billion.
So lots of companies continue to receive funding from venture capitalists and angel investors.
It’s mostly a matter of REALLY wanting to receive capital for your business and making the investment to do it (i.e., the time/money to learn how to, and the time needed to execute on, a capital-raising campaign).
So, capital IS still out there, and YES, you can raise it!
Written by Jay Turo on Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The National Venture Capital Association recently released data for 2008 venture
capital investments. Venture capital firms invested $28.3 billion in 3,808
companies in 2008. This represents an 8% decrease in dollars and a 4% decrease
in deal volume from 2007.
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