If you want to raise capital,
then you need a professional
business plan. This video
shows you how to finish your
business plan in 1 day.
to watch the video.
"The TRUTH About
Most entrepreneurs fail to raise
venture capital because they
make a really BIG mistake when
approaching investors. And on
the other hand, the entrepreneurs
who get funding all have one thing
in common. What makes the difference?
to watch the video.
The Internet has created great
opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Most recently, a new online funding
phenomenon allows you to quickly
raise money to start your business.
to watch the video.
"Barking orders" and other forms of
intimidating followers to get things
done just doesn't work any more.
So how do you lead your company
to success in the 21st century?
to watch the video.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, September 30, 2012
After working hard to grow your business into a successful company, most likely you'll want to sell it and reap the benefits of all those years of hard work. There are many questions involved with selling a business, but the most important is: How do you find qualified buyers?
Some people say the quantity of buyers that are interested in buying your business is most important. Others say it's the quality of buyers, regardless of quantity. But the correct answer is...both are very important. Here's why...
If you have 50 buyers interested in your business, then you have plenty of quantity. But if you are selling a $1,000,000 manufacturing business and these buyers can only afford a business that costs less than $300,000, or if they all prefer a service business, then this "quantity" of buyers is a waste of time. You will spend hours talking to unqualified buyers about your business when they have no interest in actually buying it.
Conversely, say you only have 2 buyers interested in your business and they are looking to spend at least $1,000,000 on a manufacturing business. You have good buyer "quality" but not enough quantity.
On average, you need at least 10 or more qualified buyers to look at your business before you can reasonably expect to sell it. And the more qualified buyers you have considering your business, the higher the sales price will be.
In a nutshell, the more qualified buyers you have looking at your business, 1) the faster you will sell your business and 2) the more money you will make on the sale.
But how do you get both quantity and quality of buyers interested in your company?
The answer depends upon the amount which you expect to sell your company. If the amount is less than $2 million, you are generally looking to sell to an individual. At an amount over $2 million, you are typically seeking a corporate buyer.
Depending on the amount and thus the buyer type, there are different ways to find buyers as follows.
Selling For Under $2 Million
For sub-$2 million sales, the two best methods of finding a buyer are as follows.
1. Business Brokers
Business brokers are typically very professional and knowledgeable in the art of buying and selling a business. Plus they are skilled at helping sellers sell their business. They will prepare your business for sale and handle all discussions with buyers on your behalf.
In addition, brokers will help generate interest in your business from buyers through their relationships with other brokers, as well as listing your business for sale on their website.
However, to get maximum quality and quantity of buyers interested in your business it is best to complement a broker's services with additional advertising efforts. You can do this either in conjunction with the broker's efforts, or on your own.
2. Online Marketplaces
Currently the most effective method of getting both the highest quantity and quality of buyers interested in your business is by advertising on an online business-for-sale marketplace. These marketplaces are searched by hundreds of thousands of buyers each month, and can generate a staggering amount of interest in your business.
There are many online marketplaces to choose from, such as BizBuySell.com, BusinessSmart.com, and BizSale.com-but they are far from equal.
Some have inadequate search functions, which mean your quality of buyers will decrease. The better the search functions the site offers, the more precisely buyers can search for what they want. And when a buyer finds your business, you know they are highly qualified.
Other business-for-sale marketplaces are just interested in collecting listing fees from you, regardless of whether or not they help you find a buyer. These sites charge a monthly listing fee that is not tied to performance of any kind. As a result, they may or may not bring you any qualified buyers, and they really don't have any incentive to do so.
Different websites have more or less traffic than others, and I would generally go with whichever can boast of the most visitors. However, if there's no cost to add your listing on a site, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to copy and paste the listing details from one site to another.
The most effective business-for-sale marketplaces put their money where their mouth is and only charge sellers on a pay-for-performance basis. With these sites, you list your business for sale and it appears in buyers' search results when they search for a business like yours. But you are only charged a small fee if the buyer actually clicks on your listing and views its details. And you can set your own budget to determine the quantity of buyers you want.
Performance-based marketplaces are very efficient and highly effective because you get exposure to the maximum number of highest quality buyers, but you don't pay if you don't have any qualified buyers view your listing.
Selling For More Than $2 Million
If you seek to sell your business for more than $2 million, as stated above, most likely you are seeking a corporate buyer -- who has the ability to pay big dollars for your company.
When seeking such a buyer, your best bet is to use the services of a qualified investment banker. While the banker will charge you fixed cash and success fees (a percentage of the amount for which your company is sold), most are well worth the cost.
Why? Because they can help you sell for a higher price (making their fees insignificant) and they can help you negotiate the best terms of the sale (e.g., the timing of your payout, etc.).
Good investment bankers will know how to position your company for sale and get as many qualified buyers as possible interested, and get them to bid against each other so you can get the best deal terms and price.
To build a sellable company, whether or not you plan to sell it for less or more than $2 million, you will need to get as many qualified buyers as possible to ensure the highest price. In the meantime, focus on building a company that tons of buyers will WANT to buy. Generally, that means a company with strong profit margins, recurring customer revenue, a diversified customer portfolio (versus having few customers comprising the majority of sales), and systems and personnel that allow the business to run without you.
When you build such a business, finding lots of qualified buyers will be much easier.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
This is arguably the worst small business financing strategy:
The entrepreneur develops what they believe to be a sure-fire business plan that can't fail. Then, unable to locate any form of startup capital (because they haven't invested in learning how to find capital), they start their business with credit cards as the only source of financing, and an expectation of sustainable business results within 3 to 6 months.
If everything goes well, the credit card debt will be retired within a year and funds will start building in the bank account. Sounds good, right?
But, have you ever spoken to someone who runs a successful small business; perhaps one that's been around for 5 or 10 years? If you take the time to ask one of these entrepreneurs about their startup period, what you learn may shock you.
Even some of the most successful small and medium sized businesses out there today had some questionable moments making a go of it in the beginning - which can sometimes last for several years.
The point here is simply this:
The process of getting a business operating and successful can take many unexpected twists and turns, no matter how diligent you are in creating a thorough business plan and business financing strategy.
Therefore, to increase your probability for success you need to allow for the unknown, the unplanned, and the unfair.
A business financing strategy that cannot accommodate unforeseen events is not much of a strategy. Furthermore, a business financing strategy that is based on high interest credit cards that can destroy both your cash flow and your personal credit is also not much of a strategy.
To improve your odds of small business success, here are some tips for developing a solid business financing strategy.
Invest Your Own Cash
If you have some of your own cash included in your business financing strategy, it will immediately increase your likelihood of getting other kinds of startup funding.
The more "skin" you have in the game, the more interested a lender will be in approving your loan request. Plus, most angel investors will be more impressed and eager to fund knowing you have some of your personal savings invested.
There is also something to be said about the psychological incentive of losing your own money and the motivation it creates for you to work harder to keep it.
Create Contingencies in Your Cash Flow
Whatever you estimate your working capital requirement to be, double it. Things can and will go wrong. So make sure you don't run out of funding when they do.
Use Credit Cards Wisely
Used properly, credit cards can be the cheapest form of working capital you have at your disposal. They can cover gaps in cash flow, or they can be used to fund endeavors that should result in a fast payback. But carry a large balance for a long time and the interest and payments will be way too much.
Some business credit cards provide 30-90 days of interest-free financing. If you pay off the entire balance every month, you have an extremely low cost of working capital financing.
But if you start carrying large balances without paying them down monthly, you will go from the cheapest source of working capital to one of the most expensive, and you will likely also hurt your credit rating in the process (lenders like to see your balance being less than half of your available limit).
Watch Spending Closely At Startup
One of the things you can control early on is how much you spend and what you spend it on.
This will change in time, but if you can spend wisely in the beginning you may be able to avoid a cost cutting exercise further down the line. For example, if you spend too much for an office lease early on, you may have to make the painful and expensive decision to downsize your space later.
While it's normally true that you have to spend money to make money, you can still be smart about the spending process. Be most cautious about your purchases in the beginning when funds are the scarcest. Always negotiate a better deal with vendors and delay anything expensive until you can justify it later on.
With these financing tips in mind, get out there and make those sales. Build a track record of success that you can show an investor while maintaining a positive cash flow throughout.
Suggested Resource: Want funding for your business? Then check out our Truth About Funding program to learn how you can access the 41 sources of funding available to entrepreneurs like you. Click here to learn more.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, September 24, 2012
Modern businesses, massively reliant on information technology, are faced with a fundamental question - should they organize “traditionally” via single locations where salaried “W-2” employees work, or should they exist primarily in “the cloud” - with far flung networks of “1099” contractors, vendors, affiliates and the like?
Let’s label the two approaches “old school” and “new school” and explore their pros and cons:
W-2 Old School Positives. You can spin virtuality anyway you like, but human beings are fundamentally designed to work together in 3 dimensions, in-person.
Among many other, an incredibly KEY benefit of the old school way - training and professional development.
While e-learning holds great promise, almost all of us have had the vast majority of our educational, development and collaboration experiences in the “real world.”
And unless and until there is some radical re-ordering of parenting and elementary school norms, this will always remain so.
As for reaching “hearts and minds,” working out of one’s spare bedroom, or from the kitchen table is convenient and all, there are few experiences of “true aliveness” like working in-person with colleagues you respect, toward accomplishing missions and objectives of value and high ideals.
Old School Negatives. It is 2012, folks, and markets and competitive conditions in our brave new world move far faster than the traditional, “one roof”, employer - employee organization dynamic.
Combine this with the fact that it is getting increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best and most creative self-starters to traditional corporate environments, and it is easy for organizations to devolve to both personnel mediocrity and a mismatch between what the market dictates and what the employee rolls reflect.
New School Positives. Sites like LinkedIn, Rent-a-Coder, Craigslist, and dozens of other have made it cheap and easy to find and transact with talent with the skill sets an organization needs as it needs it.
And while cynical, it is also true that it is easier to downsize a virtual workforce than one where folks are eating, laughing, and co-habiting together daily.
New School Negatives. This new school advantage is of course also its biggest weakness – the detachment of virtual workers makes it almost impossible to create that inspired workplace which visionary leaders like Tony Hsieh, Richard Branson and Sam Walton hold as the ONLY sustainable competitive advantage in modern business.
So what to do? There are of course no hard and fast rules, but a good shortcut is to deeply ask – “What is absolutely critical, absolutely core to my business and what is merely tactical?
That which is core, go old school.
Everything else, go new school and outsource it to that always-on, increasingly omniscient big data cloud of global talent and run your business to modern daylight!
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, September 23, 2012
I know a lot of business owners, and their businesses are very diverse. Some are profitable, some aren't. Some involve single, store-based locations, while others are Internet-based or even spread across an international network. Some have large staffs, others only have a few people. Some specialize in technology, some in produce, some in commerce.
The variations are endless, but all these companies share one thing. They all required a lot of money to get started and/or grow.
When raising funding, you always have several options - from securing a loan from a bank, receiving a secured line of credit, crowdfunding, or seeking investors. When looking for investors, most people think of venture capitalists, firms who manage pools of money and invest it in startup projects.
Angel Investors are a Realistic Option
Another option for the shrewd businessman or businesswoman, though, is to find angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who invest their own money in a company or business, usually in exchange for equity ownership.
The angels will then wait for your company to grow (and usually sell to a larger company), at which time they will sell their shares for a big gain.
Sometimes, angels will band together into angel funding groups which pool their capital in order to invest in larger projects and to diversify their risk of investing in just one company.
So, where can you find these angel investors and let them know about your company? There are a few options.
Your Current Customers
If you already have a small business and are looking for angel investors to help it expand, you may be able to find angels among your current customers - someone who knows and trusts you already, who has already experienced the value of your product or service, and who could more easily envision how successful your company could become.
Internet Search for Angels
One of my favorite types of angel investors are retired industry executives. For example, if you are in the aerospace industry do a Google search on "retired Boeing executive." You will find numerous former Boeing executives from this search. Then you can start contacting them via phone or email. These former executives generally will have the money to fund you and the connections to help you grow your business faster.
Local Entrepreneurial Groups
I have met several angels myself by attending local entrepreneurial groups. Do an internet search for "your city/state" plus "business networking group" or "entrepreneurs" group, club, or forum. They're pretty much everywhere and all have different names, but check around.
Depending on the size and legitimacy of the group, you can find some very experienced businesspeople - who are good to know for many reasons, such as mentoring or connections or funding.
Importantly, most potential angel investors don't refer to themselves as such, but if they have funds available and would be interested, then don't be afraid to bring up the opportunity to fund your business once you've established a relationship with them.
Friends of Friends
It's also true that the more business contacts you know, the more your odds of finding an angel will increase just by calling them all and asking if they know anyone who might be interested in your opportunity.
Ask Your Accountant
Banks and personal accountants often have contacts, as well. If you're unable or unwilling to find angels through other means, you can check in with your bank or with your accountant.
They may know some angel investors personally and be willing to recommend one to you.
Angels are Individuals
Remember, angel investors are not venture capitalists. Rather, they're spending their own money on things in which they believe.
This means that your odds of convincing them will go up if you can sense their other motivations besides pure growth potential and profitability, such as the social/ethical value of your company or falling in love with you or your product.
Angels invest for all kinds of reasons. Find theirs out and use it to your advantage.
Come up with a good pitch and business plan with evidence that you have a great opportunity to succeed, and you'll go far every time.
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.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The amount of time you have each week to accomplish tasks and get results is limited. Which means you have a finite budget of hours -- just like you have a finite budget of dollars. After reading this article, my hope is that you give your time budget the same discipline and respect (or more) that you give (or should give) to your financial budget.
Staying Within Your Time Budget
As an example, let's say you and your spouse have a personal budget of $400 per month for groceries. It's the last week of the month and you're at the grocery store with a cart full of items. The items will cost you the amount that will make your total money spent on groceries this month $400.
Then, right as you're approaching checkout, you see something in the store that catches your eye. Maybe it's on sale. Maybe it tastes really good. Or maybe it's something you've been meaning to get for a while.
What do you do?
The correct answer is don't buy it; and rather stay within your set budget. Unless of course you can put an item in your cart of equal value back on the shelf.
Your time budget is the same way. When it's 4:55 and you've committed to stop working and go home at 5:00 but there's some nagging task you really want to knock out but would take 30 minutes -- DON'T BUY IT. Don't do it today. Do it tomorrow or some other day.
Go home and enjoy your life. Do something fun or relaxing and stay within your time budget. It can probably wait until later, just like that last-minute item at the store.
Is it Ever Done? Yes and No!
Now I know that if you practice this, there will be painful days where you fail to do something important because you ran out of time and would not work later. But so what? Even on days I've worked 12 hours there are things I failed to get done. Is it ever all done? Not in general.
But, each day has a beginning and an end, so it's really a matter of "Did I achieve today's priorities?" versus "Is there anything left to do?"
Your tasks will never all be done, just like you will never not need to buy groceries anymore. What's important is how you manage however many hours you DO have in your time budget.
Try this today -- track your time, then look back afterward and note what you did. I bet there were some things you did that took 30 minutes that weren't as important as other things. The key (whether time, money, or any other valuable resource) is to budget, budget, budget...and then watch it like a HAWK.
My Favorite Solution
My favorite time management solution is to budget my time with my calendar. For example, I have a set amount of time to finish this article. Because in a few more minutes, I have to get to my next appointment (which is to complete another important task). If I hadn't scheduled that next task on my calendar, I most likely would spend more and more time on this article. Yes, possibly, this article would end up a little better, but I wouldn't have also been able to complete the other task.
I urge you to try scheduling your time on your calendar. And sticking to it; meaning that when it's time for your next appointment, you go to it and complete that task.
Suggested Resource: Follow the tips above and you'll start maximizing the productivity of your team. And check out "Productivity Secrets for Entrepreneurs: How to Get More Done, Make More Money and Take More Time Off" if you'd like to access my complete program for maximizing your productivity and results.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, September 17, 2012
Younger workers, the so-called Millennials or those born after 1982, offer unique challenges and opportunities for 21st Century managers seeking to build well-functioning teams that work and win together.
Here are five best practices:
#5. Revel in the Importance of Company Culture. In a world where everything can and is easily and quickly borrowed, copied, and sometimes just plain old stolen - the only sustainable competitive advantage is how a company organizes and aligns, inspires and challenges its people.
Or, in a word, its company culture.
Taking it further, the modern manager is doubly vexed by the unsettling (yet exciting) reality that the plan today will almost certainly not be the plan tomorrow, and as the plan changes, so must change both individual roles and team dynamics.
And thereby so must the culture change.
Please let’s not jump over this point too quickly. It is all too easy for the ambitious, hard-working, and often older manager to just throw up his or her hands and lament over “these kids” and how “if they only knew how things were like when I was starting out” that they would think and act differently.
And how they should be just happy to have a job and not just be so – well young and self-absorbed.
Well, that is dead-end talk.
Building high-performing 21st century teams requires winning hearts and minds and doing so each day anew. The best managers REVEL in this challenge as opposed to shirking from it or whining about it.
#4. Empowering and Coddling are NOT The Same Thing. Some may read the above and shake their heads and think that this is a “coddling mindset” or entitlement culture and is exactly what has gotten us in America in trouble in the first place and a big part of why China is kicking our you know what every which way.
This is where leadership and administrative creativity are of such importance in building win-win work structures that both inspire and challenge the younger worker to work harder and get better faster.
AND allow for balance and acknowledge those aspects of work that are not so “goal-driven.”
What are these? Well, that sense of community and common cause and healthy friendship and competition that make the best workplaces, for lack of a better word, fun.
And fun, as high-performing cultures like Southwest and Richard Branson’s Virgin have demonstrated so inspirationally is - surprise, surprise - very good for the bottom line.
#3. Understand that Entrepreneurship and Youth Go Hand-in-Hand. Most ambitious young people today don’t grow up dreaming about getting that “good state job” or to work for the same company for 30 years.
Rather, and following up on that overriding sense of “specialness” with which we now raise our children, young people want their star to shine. They want to come up with the new, great ideas, and to be acknowledged and rewarded for it.
They, in essence, want all of the recognition and empowerment and self-definition and financial opportunity that attract people of all ages to become entrepreneurs.
This is a great and good thing, and is at the heart of why we live in golden, global age as young people the world over are being raised with the right kind of high self-esteems to dream and act BIG.
BUT many of even the best of them on balance do not want the headaches and heartaches and vexing, painful choices and compromises that are just as much part and parcel of the real entrepreneurial “lifestyle.”
So how do you work with this? The deep desire and burning ambition that all companies desperately want in their people on the one hand, and a wariness and even a distaste for all of the prosaic, “not fun” stuff on the other?
Well surprise, surprise, this is tough.
A general rule here is as opposed to fighting this energy, go with it and reframe the “tough stuff” as opportunities for personal and professional growth and then profusely recognize and acknowledge these “less fun” challenges are taken on.
Not easy to do for sure, but it is this leadership that both modern organizations and younger workers desperately need and want.
#2. Recognition is Key. Having 2 young sons has helped me immeasurably in understanding the sometimes gentle psyches of younger employees. Long gone are those days of fear and punishment-based parenting and schooling. Rather, understanding that a recognition-based milieu is how most high-performing young people have been raised and schooled is a key to effective organization-building.
Authors Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick in their books and on their great website – Carrots.com - describe recognition done right as being “positive, immediate, close, specific, and shared:”
Positive - managers sometimes use a recognition presentation as a time to talk about how far someone has come, or how they could have done even better. This is not the time or place. Comments must be positive and upbeat.
Immediate - too often by the time an employee is recognized for a job well done, weeks if not months have passed. Obviously the closer the recognition to the actual performance the better.
Close - recognition is best presented in the employee’s work environment among peers. Invite the person’s team members and work friends to attend.
Specific - a great presentation is a time to point out specific behaviors that reinforces key values.
Shared - typically, recognition comes from the top down; however, recognition that means the most often comes from peers who best understand the circumstances surrounding the employee’s performance. Peers, as well as managers and supervisors, should be able to comment during the presentation.
#1. Embrace Fluidity. This is perhaps the hardest reality and where the rubber really hits the road with building 21st century, knowledge-based entrepreneurial organizations dependent on younger people.
They just get up and leave.
On a moment’s notice and often for the simple and defensible reason of valuing experience and variety over the often hum-drum and slow career - building that is part of staying and growing with one organization over time.
Again, as opposed to fighting this energy, go with it. Work to design the organization and refine the business model based on relatively short tenures - say 3 years or less - and with the ability to plug new people in and have them produce quickly.
To accomplish this requires strong and well-defined training styles and processes, clearly defined and “bounded” roles and responsibilities, and a knowledge management system that captures and processes the intelligence of the organization so that it doesn’t walk out the door when that “year overseas” calls.
How About Investors?
As for investors looking for emerging companies to back, my strong suggestion is to evaluate these softer “above the line” qualities in a corporate culture and a leadership team as much as the below line technology and balance sheet factors that are usually at the forefront of an investment evaluation.
For it is the right company culture - one that gets the best out of people of all ages - that both endures and provides for success for the long term.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Thursday, September 13, 2012
Finish what you start...finish your projects...finish your dinner! :) Everyone has experienced some tension in their lives from having unfinished business waiting around for them on the back burner.
Written by Jay Turo on Monday, September 10, 2012
The old adage that banks are really only in the business of providing capital to those that don't need it has never been more true than it is today.
These days, most commercial and neighborhood banks only lend against quickly “liquidatable” assets or at a small multiple of historical cash flow.
Given that most startups and small businesses have neither of these, for them attaining traditional bank financing has such a low probability of success that it is rarely even worth the time to pursue.
So, where should the creative and committed small business owner go for funding when the banks say no?
Here are three places to look:
1. Crowdfunding. Popularized by donation - based platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Rockethub, crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to efficiently raise capital in small amounts from one's social and professional networks.
Important timing note here: While equity-based crowdfunding was approved by Congress in the recently passed JOBS Act, it is still working through the process of SEC rule-making.
See crowdfunder.com - a startup that is developing one of the best platforms for equity-based crowdfunding - for the most timely updates in this regard.
2. Family and Friends. Since time immemorial by far the most popular funding source for new and small businesses is to ask those that know you best to stake your entrepreneurial journey.
For sure it is emotionally loaded, as so many of us don't want to mix our personal and professional lives, but it does provide a great “gut check” as to how serious, committed, and “sold” you really are on your business.
Well, it is one thing to lose the money of strangers, quite another to do so of Uncle Jed who you'll be seeing each holiday season.
A way to “reverse the frame” in these family and friends dialogues is to recognize that while yes, a relative or friend is doing you a big favor by investing in your business, you in turn are returning the favor and more by providing an opportunity for an outsized investment return along with the unique excitement of being a stakeholder in a small business.
3. Sell Services. Especially for technology and consumer product companies, the long pathway of research, product development, and establishing distribution mean that often years can go by in the dreaded “pre-revenue” stage.
So as opposed to relying solely on investment capital to “deficit finance” this gestation period, how about generating some cash through selling consulting services in the interim?
As examples, a company building a new and proprietary mobile application could in parallel build apps for others, a new restaurant could do catering, or a consumer product business could sell research services regarding their market niche.
And, if structured right, in addition to paying the bills, consulting projects like these can also be utilized to iterate one’s product development forward.
Use these three strategies - and do so as with all matters related to starting and growing a business with creativity, determination, and persistence - and soon you will be laughing all the way to the bank.
This blog post is a reprint of an article written by Jay Turo in last week’s Vistaprint.com’s Small Business Blog.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Sunday, September 9, 2012
If you're like me and want to grow your business quickly, then you're all about finding leverage. One way to get a lot more results for the effort you put in is by duplicating yourself.
Consider this -- if you find it's effective to follow-up on every inquiry by phone, then you can only call back so many people yourself. If you want to grow, you'd need a salesperson or phone rep contacting everyone for you and reporting the results.
An autoresponder service is kind of like that salesperson, but it automatically follows up with prospects by email after they enter their address somewhere on your website (via a contact form, a form to download one of your reports, purchasing one of your products or services, etc.). I'll walk you through the 5 W's of Autoresponders below to show you how they can help you make more sales without lifting a finger.
What is an autoresponder service?
An autoresponder is a an automatic series of emails that get sent out to people that give you their email address, usually as the result of requesting information of some kind, like a free report, or subscribing to your newsletter.
You would write a sequence of emails and choose what order they go in-and how many days later they will be sent to each new subscriber who opts in. So when someone subscribes to your newsletter, you could send them a Thank You For Subscribing email that same day (Day 0), then a follow-up email on Day 1, Day 2, Day 5, Day 7, etc.
Why should I use one?
It's been tested time and time again in pretty much every business niche that prospects are more likely to respond or make a purchase if they receive 4-10 follow-up emails, than if they only visit your website once. Getting in front of prospects more often gives you more opportunities to make a sale, and a percentage of people will usually buy with each email you send.
This is a massively important part of marketing online, because an autoresponder allows you to create a trusting connection with your list (particularly if your autoresponder emails include good information). Building this trust means they are more likely to respect your suggestions, and therefore means if you suggest a product they will be more likely to buy it.
You earn their trust and respect by sending them good information and not bothering them with excessive promotions or other stuff they don't find relevant.
When should I use one?
Whenever you're ready to write a few emails and make more sales from new subscribers, then you should set up your autoresponder. Block out 2-3 hours to choose an autoresponder service, set it up, and write a simple series of emails. Put links to the appropriate pages of your website in the body of the email messages.
You'll find that you recoup a higher percentage of every marketing dollar you spend. And believe me-it's much easier to double your profits through higher conversions on your existing website traffic (via the increased sales from the autoresponder) than it is by paying for more traffic.
Where do I put it on my site?
So where should you include an "opt in" box for people to subscribe to your newsletter or otherwise give you their email address? The most common place to put an opt-in box is on the sidebar of your website or blog. You can create one of these with the help of your autoresponder service, and there are also web programmers who can make them for you on Fiverr.com for $5.
You should include language in the box telling people why they should opt-in or subscribe. Offer them an exclusive report or video they can't get anywhere else that addresses their most compelling need. This is where knowing your customers' needs and psychology is crucial to your success.
Clearly you should also have a Contact Us page with a form to collect email address that can go into your autoresponder.
Whose service should I use?
A good autoresponder service for those starting out is Get Response. The reason for that is because you can send an unlimited number of emails, the emails get sent on time and you have many different options including broadcast, timed broadcast, follow-ups, you can easily manage your subscribers and it is free for lists under 100 people.
I've also used aWeber and 1ShoppingCart. They are both very straightforward. Also I like that their pricing is a little more fixed-not based on the # of subscribers you have (they do it by tiers of number of subscribers). Constant Contact is also a good service for beginners. Sometimes they have special promotions and plan changes, so I would scan through each of their websites and compare how they do at the following:
Can they send unlimited number of emails?
There are some email services such as iContact that have very good deliverability and a very good interface but you are limited to only sending out six email messages to your subscribers every month.
That means if you have a busy week and happen to launch a product that week and send six emails that week then you can't send anymore messages to your subscribers for the rest of the entire month. That's why even though there are some autoresponder companies with better deliverability than Get Response, I don't like them because you are limited in how many emails you send every month.
Do the emails get sent out on time?
Read the user reviews around the Internet of the autoresponder service you're looking at and find out if when it comes time to blast or broadcast a message to your subscribers, it will get sent right away.
Do they provide you with everything you need?
You need to be able to delete people from your list and create sub-lists if needs be (e.g., a special list of subscribers who perhaps are interested in a specific product or service). You need to be able to set up an autoresponder (automated follow up messages) and also do broadcasts (messages that send to everyone at the same time).
You'll also want to find out if they have an opt-in form creator you can use to make the opt-in box on your website. Or, you may find it's not worth your time to learn how and pay someone else to do it.
So there you have the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of autoresponder services and how they can make your follow-up efforts effortless. If you have a website but aren't using an autoresponder, I'd strongly suggest looking into setting one up now.
Suggested Resource: Want to learn my complete strategy for methodically maximizing your online traffic, leads, sales and profits? Including a section on how to best use autoresponders? Then check out my Ultimate Internet Marketing System.
Written by Jay Turo on Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The four letter word in all conversations between entrepreneurs and investors is risk.
Investors are always interested in gaining ownership stakes in high potential companies but are also always weary of the considerable risk-taking necessary to actually do so.
The best investors and entrepreneurs I know take a dispassionate and detached approach.
They don’t get caught up in the “drama” that the word risk has unfortunately garnered in our "it bleeds it leads" media and in our litigious culture.
Rather, they view risk for what it actually is - simply a measurement of the likelihood of a set of future outcomes.
In the context of startup investing, it has three main drivers:
1. Technology Risk. Can the entrepreneur actually bring-to-market the product or service and on what timeframe?
2. Market Risk. Once the product is in the market, will anyone care?
3. Execution Risk. Can the entrepreneur lead and manage a growing enterprise?
Critically, investors do their risk calculation not by adding, but rather by multiplying, these factors together.
As such, poor grades on any one factor has an exponential impact on the business' overall risk profile, and thus its investment attractiveness.
And as should be obvious, companies that raise capital simply have better answers when queried regarding the above - their technology plans are better thought out, they understand their market and customers more deeply, and their people have better resumes and track records.
But it goes deeper than that.
Deals judged as higher risk are disproportionately prejudiced against, even when their expected return more than compensates for their higher risk.
As a result, higher risk deals are normally underpriced while the lower risks ones are usually over-priced.
That is good knowledge for investors, but what about the entrepreneur?
Well, it should be to always remember that the real dialogue going through the mind of the investor when considering a deal is not really about technology, or market, or management, even when that is what they want to talk about…
No, it is almost always about risk - both its reality and its perception.
Address this concern above all others, head-on, thoughtfully, confidently, and candidly.
And then risk will be put back where it belongs – as a factor to consider - and not something that just automatically stops a deal.