Why Your Worst Enemy Can Raise More Money Than You


 

The word "crux" is an interesting word. It's a noun that can be defined as: (1) the decisive or most important point at issue, or (2) a particular point of difficulty.

In either case, the word aptly applies to raising funding for your business, because in doing so, most entrepreneurs and business owners encounter difficulties.

I believe the crux to successfully raising money for your business lies initially in understanding that investors are essentially professional risk managers.

Let me explain. Most sources of money, like banks and institutional equity investors (defined as institutions like venture capital firms, private equity firms and corporations that invest), are essentially professional risk managers. That is, they successfully invest or lend money by managing the risk that the money will be repaid or not.

So, your job as the entrepreneur seeking capital is to reduce your investor or lender's risk.

Let me give you a simple example. Let's say that both you and your worst enemy both wished to open a new restaurant.

In this scenario, which is the riskier investment?

  • You have put together a business plan for the new restaurant.

  • Your worst enemy has also put together a business plan for the restaurant...and he/she has also put together the menu, secured a deal for leasing space, received a detailed contract with a design/build firm, signed an employment agreement with the head chef, etc.


Clearly investing in your worst enemy is less risky, because they have already accomplished some of their "risk mitigating milestones."

Establishing Your Risk Mitigating Milestones


A "risk mitigating milestone" is an event that when completed, makes your company more likely to succeed. For example, for a restaurant, some of the "risk mitigating milestones" would include:

  • Finding the location
  • Getting the permits and licenses
  • Building out the restaurant
  • Hiring and training the staff
  • Opening the restaurant
  • Reaching $20,000 in monthly sales
  • Reaching $50,000 in monthly sales

 

As you can see, each time the restaurant achieves a milestone, the risk to the investor or lender decreases significantly. There are fewer things that can go wrong. And by the time the business reaches its last milestone, it has virtually no risk of failure.

Let me give you another example. For a new software company the risk mitigating milestones might be:

  • Designing a prototype
  • Getting successful beta testing results
  • Getting the product to a point where it is market-ready
  • Getting customers to purchase the product
  • Securing distribution partnerships
  • Reaching monthly revenue milestones


The key point when it comes to raising money is this: you generally do NOT raise ALL the money you need for your venture upfront. You merely raise enough money to achieve your initial milestones. Then, you raise
more money later to accomplish more milestones.

Yes, you are always raising money to get your company to the next level. Even Fortune 100 companies do this - they raise money by issuing more stock in order to launch new initiatives. It's an ongoing process-not something you do just once.

Creating Your Milestone Chart & Funding Requirements


The key is to first create your detailed risk mitigating milestone chart. Not only is this helpful for funding, but it will serve as a great "To Do" list for you and make sure you continue to achieve goals each day, week and month that progress your business.

Shoot for listing approximately six big milestones to achieve in the next year, five milestones to achieve next year, and so on for up to 5 years (so include two milestones to achieve in year 5). And alongside the milestones, include the time (expected completion date) and the amount of funding you will need to attain them.

After you create your milestone chart, you need to prioritize. Determine the milestones that you absolutely must accomplish with the initial funding. Ideally, these milestones will get you to point where you are generating revenues (if you are not already generating revenues). This is because the ability to generate revenues significantly reduces the risk of your venture; as it proves to lenders and investors that customers want what you are offering.

By setting up your milestones, you will figure out what you can accomplish for less money. And the fact is, the less money you need to raise, the easier it generally is to raise it (mainly because the easiest to raise money sources offer lower dollar amounts).

The other good news is that if you raise less money now, you will give up less equity and incur less debt, which will eventually lead to more dollars in your pocket.

Finally, when you eventually raise more money later (in a future funding round), because you have already achieved numerous milestones, you will raise it easier and secure better terms (e.g., higher valuation, lower interest rate, etc.).

It might surprise you what you can accomplish with less money! So write up your list of risk mitigating milestones and determine which must be done now and which can wait for later, focusing first on what is most likely to generate revenues.

 

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.

 

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Learning from the Business High-Flyers


 

Earlier this month, I moderated a webinar panel focused on technology and entrepreneurial opportunities in Virtual Reality, a market sector growing at over 100% per year, and transforming industries as diverse as medicine, real estate, entertainment, gaming, and more.

Driven by five amazing panelists from the worlds of entertainment, software, healthcare, and venture capital, it was an inspirational and thought-provoking look at a market space brimming with opportunity, possibility, and bullishness.

It was also the first in a series that over the next few months I will be hosting featuring entrepreneurs and investors from some of the world’s hottest market and technology sectors, including 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence, technology wearables, autonomous driving, and more.

I am doing this because first, it is simply exciting and inspiring to visit with innovators - folks who "connect the dots" between technological change and business opportunity.

And as an investor, I know that the only way to earn outsized profits is to identify businesses early, before they go through their "Hockey Stick" growth phase, and most of these kinds of companies are to be found in fast growth industries like those listed above.

But as importantly, I am hosting these webinars for those of us who do NOT work in high-flying sectors, but who can benefit tremendously from the type and quality of innovation thinking and strategic planning as done in them.

Thinking, planning, and doing that is fresher. More opportunities-filled and possibilities rich.

More easily embracing of new technologies, not just for their core customer value propositions, but also for internal business processes, team building, communication, collaboration, and more.

As I wrote in my Olympics Post last week, we must always be vigilant to maintain this "always innovating" mindset, especially as we and our businesses age and mature.

Unfortunately, too often the media and the world wants us to believe that breakout business success is only for the chosen few - for the young technologists, for the geographically advantaged. For startups.

But this just isn't true.

Breakout success is available to any business, no matter how young or old, no matter its industry or market, so long as its leaders have the guts and the competitive spirit to do whatever it takes to grow their companies.

And a huge part of doing whatever it takes is letting go of the conventional wisdom that so suffocates too many older businesses...

...and instead learning from and emulating innovators who are dreaming and doing big, breakout business things.

The best entrepreneurs and executives in high-flying sectors are exposed daily to the best and latest technologies, to the most creative business thinking and planning, and are infused with the most unlimited sense of business possibility and opportunity.

Let’s learn from and be inspired by them.

And let’s think, do, and dream big things in our businesses like them.

So in the months ahead keep a look out for your invitation to meet these awesome innovators.

And maybe, just maybe, a little of their growth magic will rub off on your business too.

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4 Step System for Rapidly Training New Hires


 

In my last essay, I discussed the three benefits of using outsourced workers (cost savings, reducing overhead, getting work done while you sleep). And then I gave you tips for finding and selecting the right outsourced provides.

In this essay, I'll lay out my system for rapidly training these new hires (it also works for new in-house and/or full-time hires).

Before you start the training


Before you begin their training, take a few minutes to break down the work to be completed into a list of steps, or even a process map (a simple, visual flow chart of how the process will go). As a manager, your job is to create these processes and coach your team to implement them and report the results back to you.

If something goes wrong, it's either because they did not follow the process correctly as you spelled it out -- or there is something less effective about your process to correct. Listing all the steps and putting them in the right order will also clarify your thoughts and give you a guide or agenda to follow when training them.

The simple system for rapid training

Step #1: Explain


This is where you take the time to describe the work to your virtual assistant or outsourced person. Show them the list of action items or an overview of the process. A written summary coupled with a verbal explanation is usually the most thorough way to do this.

Tell them what the task is called (for easy reference later on), what it accomplishes, why it is
important, who will need to do it and when, and how it is to be done, step by step. The
more details you can give, the better, because they will grow to understand you and
your company goals and will be able to handle more things for you later on without
having to ask a ton of questions.

Also, understanding your business model, your customers, and your purpose will help them make more informed decisions along the way -- subtle differences that can turn good work into greatness.

Step #2: Demonstrate


People learn better by seeing an example of how something is supposed to be done. This will teach them better than the longest explanation. Demonstrations can be done in different ways:

1. In person. Example: Demonstrating how to fold and stuff envelopes.

2. On the phone, via webinar. Via phone or webinar you can tell or show a virtual person how to do something.

3. Via video. if you show someone something via a webinar, record the webinar. That way, the next time you need to train someone, they can simply watch the video rather than requiring your time to train them.

4. Hypotheticals. In this case, you would give a few "if-then" scenarios to your hire and tell them what to do or say depending on what happens.

For example, you might write in an email to your hire, "Call Joe Contractor and ask him if the work is about 2/3rds of the way done. If it is, ask him for a range of days and times for me to meet him to do a walkthrough. If not, ask him when he expects it to be and call him back that day."

Step #3: Practice


After learning how to do a task, the hire must then attempt it on their own under your supervision. It's important that you monitor their work for a while until you are certain that it is being done correctly. Otherwise, neither of you will know if it needs improvement.

Find a way to watch them in action or to see the results of their actions. This might be hard for some of you, but let them fail. It is least distracting and demotivating for you to observe the entire process and save your comments for the end.

The whole point of training is for them to get used to the whole process on their own. NOW is the time for them to make mistakes. Hopefully you budgeted enough time for them to practice things a few times and get it right before crunch time.

The way to monitor them could be watching them in person, listening on the phone, or reviewing a finished product of some sort, like a design or written work.

Step #4: Feedback (Positive and Negative)

This is the part of training where you help them to improve at their job by pointing out things that could be done differently or better. I prefer to use the "Feedback Sandwich" approach, in which you tell them what they could do better in between two compliments so it's not harsh or overly negative.

For example, you could say:

    (Compliment) "Julie, this mail looks really good. You somehow found a way to fold the
    letters in just the right places so that they fit inside an envelope perfectly."

    (Critique) "You know, I read once that the better lined up the stamp is on the front of the envelope, the more people respond. Would you mind making sure they are all put on
    straight from now on?"

    (Compliment) "Thank you so much. That, plus the handwritten address, which looks so
    personalized I'd think it was coming from my mother, makes these mailers perfect."


Once you have given your feedback, the training cycle begins all over again. Your feedback
is their new explanation (Step #1). You may demonstrate it again if you feel you need to (Step #2), and have them practice it again (Step #3), until you decide that the results are good enough.

A Trained Assassin

When you have decided that your hire is capable of performing the task consistently on their own, they are now officially trained. Be sure to congratulate them on learning the task, and thank them for making your life easier.

And lastly, this rapid training system is not just something to use when they are first hired.

If at any time their performance falls behind, or you want to help them take one of their skill sets to the next level, or you think of something new for them to do, just follow these 4 simple steps again.

 

Suggested Resource: If you don't outsource, you can't compete. The math is simple...if your competitors are outsourcing and only pay $X to complete a task, and you pay $3X, $5X or $10X, your competitors will eat your lunch. You simply must outsource to stay competitive. Outsource the right way using Growthink's Outsourcing Formula. Learn more by clicking here.

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Business Lessons from Bolt, Phelps, et al.


 

An amazing 3.5 billion people - half the globe - are watching some or part of the Rio Olympics.  

Because it is great entertainment.

And because, perhaps more than at any other event, nowhere is on greater display the full range of human emotion, achievement, failure, joy, and heartbreak.

And from it all come awesome wisdoms - on life, relationships, culture, country - and if you look not even all that closely, on entrepreneurship, business and success. Here are six:  

6. The World is One. With over 10,000 athletes from 200(!) countries participating, and with fans from all of those countries watching, the Olympics are an overwhelming reminder that global business planning and acting is both a blessed opportunity and a competitive necessity.

This is an especially important wisdom for smaller U.S. businesses, spoiled by easy access to their huge domestic market far too often are, let me say it, just too lazy to explore and pursue international opportunities.

5.The Power of Competition. On my wall as a kid was legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success," with at its top the ultimate goal of “Competitive Greatness.”

And on each rung of the pyramid are its building blocks, the necessary conditions for that Competitive Greatness like:

Industriousness: “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”

Team Spirit: “The star of the team is the team. We supercedes ‘me’.”

Confidence: “The strongest steel is well-founded self belief. It is earned, not given.”

Poise: “Be yourself, don't be thrown off by events, whether good or bad.”

The point, made especially from the back stories of the athletes and their journeys to the Games, is that the high goal of competitive greatness - of Olympic Gold - then drives the years and years of dedicated, intense practice and training.

And just like in business, this pursuit of Competitive Greatness - of “Performing at your best when your best is required" - in turn forges powerful and life and community changing qualities of character, leadership, and self-belief.

4. Winning May Not be Everything, but it is Extremely Important. The difference between Olympics winning and losing is often measured in mere thousandths of a second.

But the differences in consequences, especially for athletes from poorer countries, is often that between abject poverty and extreme wealth.

The great sprinter Usain Bolt personifies this, sharing the story of how as a teenager in Jamaica he competed barefoot because he could not afford shoes to now where he has parlayed his Olympic success into a net worth of over $60 million.

Similarly, in business, only a very few companies become Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, et al., but it remains critically important to recognize the massive economic importance of winning BIG...

...and thus of baking elements and possibilities of big breakout success into one's business model 
no matter how low the probability of their actually coming to pass might be.

3. Find the Fun. As an interlude between the Olympic viewing in our home we recently re-watched Mary Poppins, with its so lovely "Spoonful Of Sugar" opening song and its totally great opening lines of...

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game

And wow, does this generation of athletes have their fun?

I am not talking about the famed revelry in the Olympic Village, but more as to the athletes’ laughs, smiles and overall “lightness of being” before, during, and after their competitions.

And perhaps more powerfully, the heartfelt congratulations and condolences shared by and between them throughout.

Much more so than previous generations, these athletes show that we can work and compete extremely hard, and enjoy it with our teammates and competitors as we go.

2. The Power of Team. Every winning Olympic athlete has around them an awesome, specialized team.

All aspects contributing to their peak performance - strength, speed, technique, nutrition, psychology, equipment - is assembled for them by trained, dedicated, and paid experts in that particular domain.

Similarly, any business benefits enormously through engaging specialists to improve key work processes - strategy, sales, marketing, technology, operations, finance, legal, etc.

Now can you stay in business without this kind of expert help?

Well, just like the Olympic athletes without expert teams around them, you can participate in the great game of business.

But you sure as heck aren’t bringing home a medal!

1. The Power of Measurement. The best athletes and their teams measure everything, and then meticulously adjust training regimens, tactics, and strategies as competitive results dictate.

For runners, if they sleep an hour more per night, how much do their times improve? If they forsake alcohol, processed foods, what happens?

If they train at altitudes, or in water, or different types of exercises and duration, how much faster, stronger do they become?

Similarly (and especially now), in business the Big Data and SaaS revolutions allow us to effortlessly and preciously measure every business process - sales, marketing, operations, finance - and the effects of changes to key inputs on results.

We just have to engage the data and commit to adjusting constantly to incrementally improve results.

And as we do, and especially with a great team around us, we too can win that so precious, and so profitable Business Gold.

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Why Do We Work?


 

Why - once we have met our basic needs for food, warmth, and safety - do we work?

There are the usual, default answers.

For Status. Power. In response to a "fight or flight" instinct, hardwired deep in us.

Because when we were young, we saw our parents do it and when we grew up, we wanted to be like them.

Phew.

What a bunch of hamster on a wheel mumbo-jumbo that makes folks at the end of their life look back and say why did I waste so much of my precious life on that?

Instead, how about this?

Let’s be heroes.

Wikipedia defines a hero as one “who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self-sacrifice…for some greater good of all humanity.

Now that’s good.

It touches the various dimensions of our being.

Heroism in action is a strong, hard effort - a pushing to the limits of one’s physical endurance.

Heroes are intellectually wise. They are fair, sober, and big, and rarely let anger and fear get the best of them.

And when we are in the presence of a hero, we are spiritually risen up, are we not?

And you know what goes hand-in-hand with heroism?

Work.

Hard, honest work - taking great, exquisite care to do things right – is at heroism’s heart.

As is teamwork. And creative work, toward an idealistic end.

As is work on the behalf of the powerless, for and with the young and the old.

As is winning the right way - with grace and with recognition of those that aided in your journey.

And as is trying your absolute hardest and most honest best, and sometimes coming up just a bit short.

Heroic work, in all its forms, is work worth doing.

You know it when you see it. And unfortunately, also when you don’t.

Let’s look for the heroes in our lives - those right around us and those in their blessed multitude in this wide and inter-connected world of ours.

Let’s celebrate them and let’s strive to be like them.

 

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Opportunities in Virtual Reality [Webinar Invitation]


 

Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the hottest market sectors in the world today, growing from a $90 million business in 2014, to $4.1 billion this year, and then more than doubling to $8.5 billion by 2018 (Goldman Sachs).  

Well beyond its “science fiction” roots, virtual reality hardware, software, and applications technologies are transforming industries as diverse as medicine, real estate, entertainment, gaming, and more.   And many predict these new technologies will have as profound an impact on personal and business communications and productivity as email, text messaging, and social media.

Combined. 

Webinar Invitation: Entrepreneurial and Investment Opportunities in Virtual Reality (To register, click here).

I am extremely excited to be hosting a webinar this Thursday, August 11th at Noon ET / 9 am PT where I will be joined by a select and amazing group of virtual reality entrepreneurs and investors who will share how they and their companies are winning in this incredibly dynamic space. My panelists include:

  • Mr. Leon Ng, President of LNG Studios, an award winning architectural and real estate 3D visualization studio and founder of North America’s largest Real Estate Television Network.  
  • Mr. Jared Sandrew, President of Go Ghost LLC and VFX, VR, Stereoscopic Supervisor, including work for Bento Box Entertainment on the “Bob’s Burger Virtual Reality Experience.”  
  • Mr. Tyson Woeste, Founder, Transported VR, a platform for real estate brokers to create and distribute Virtual Reality home walk-throughs to buyers. In Tyson’s words, “Real estate will be VR's first killer app...”
  • Ms. Julie Young, Producer at Emblematic Group, and Co-Founder of SH//FT. Produced several room-scale VR experiences including Kiya (Sundance 2016), Across the Line (Sundance 2016), and VREmpathy (White House Youth Homelessness Policy Session 2016).

On the webinar, they will share:

  • Why virtual reality is growing so rapidly right now and what this means for businesses of all types
  • What is most important for a successful VR customer experience - great hardware, software, the application itself, something else?
  • What businesses are the early VR adopters and how is this giving them competitive advantage
  • What countries are ahead in VR now and who is catching up?
  • Which specific companies / entrepreneurs are out there that smart investors should be watching?

Who Should Attend

This webinar is designed for two distinct attendee groups:

1) Those connected to the virtual reality industry as entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists.

2) Entrepreneurs and executives intent on learning why and how what is arguably the most important technology revolution happening in the world today will impact and change their businesses.

Limited Attendance

To preserve the intimacy of the presentation, we are limiting the webinar to the first 35 registrants.

So register right away via the link below:  

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2584555288835916289 

I look forward to your attendance and feedback.

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The Big Secret to Raising Venture Capital


 

Years ago I served on a funding panel with Tom Clancy. At the time, Tom was a partner at Enterprise Partners Venture Capital in San Diego.

At the time (around 2003), many venture capital firms were licking their wounds. They had funded a ton of companies during the tech bubble phase, and most of them had failed.
 
This led Clancy to make an important decision. He said that going forward, Enterprise Partners would wait at least six months before funding any new company they met.

The rationale was solid. During the six months, he would see what the entrepreneur was able to accomplish. If the entrepreneur accomplished the milestones set forth in their business plan, than they were deemed worthy and would receive funding. If not, they would not.

So what is the entrepreneur to do during the six months in order to get the investor to write them a check?

Obviously they need to achieve milestones... But what else?

Before I give you an answer, I want you to know how crucially important this is, not only in raising capital, but in securing key partnership and gaining key customers.

Let me give you an example of an entrepreneur who successfully used this technique in order to get a key partner. This entrepreneur’s name was Chet Holmes. And one of the key reasons that Mr. Holmes achieved success was through his partnership with marketing guru Jay Abraham.

How did Holmes get the partnership with Abraham? Like many people, he tried to reach him by phone, fax and mail. But Holmes did it every other week...

...FOR TWO YEARS!!!

Then, he finally got a call from Abraham's business manager for a lunch appointment, flew to Los Angeles for lunch, and established a very profitable partnership.

So, what's the answer to the question of how to woo investors, customers, partners, advisors, key hires, and more over six months?

Effective and persistent communications. In other words...

FOLLOW UP.

You must consistently, over a period of time, hammer home your message to investors, key customers and others.

What exactly does this mean? For investors, once you meet them, you should follow-up with them at least twice per month to update them on your progress. For prospective customers, you should contact them on an ongoing basis to continually give them value and convince them of the benefits of working with you. And of course, don't forget to follow-up with your existing customers.

And a key here is that this follow-up should NEVER END unless or until the costs of the follow-up clearly outweigh the benefits.

Remember that people invest in, buy from, and partner with other people. So, who would you rather work with? Someone who has been contacting you for two years with quality messages regarding why you should partner with them, buy their product or invest in them? Or someone who you just met yesterday and tells you how great they are?

The answer is clear.

Don't stop at the first contact. Choose the appropriate frequency (i.e., you don't want to be perceived as too obnoxious or pushy to potential investors), craft quality messages, achieve your milestones, and convince investors and others to work with you over time.

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The Young or Old Michael Jordan, Which is Your Business?


 

For so many very important reasons - pursuing capital to grow, positioning a business for a sale, recruiting new executive talent - the vast majority of business owners seek to have their companies judged and valued on its future prospects, and not its past results.

The truism of this for any business, and the executives that lead them, should be obvious and freeing.  

Obvious in that, of course the past is past, and that concepts of business value are inherently future-focused and determined.

The easiest analogy here is from the world of sports.

Who would be more valuable to a team seeking to win a championship? The 21 year old Chicago Bull rookie Michael Jordan, starting his career with no professional resume or accomplishments, or his 40 year Washington Wizards version, possessive of 6 NBA Finals MVPs, over 30,000 points scored, and universally regarded as the greatest player in basketball history?

Because sports is so visceral, so visual, it is far more obvious than in business to separate and properly rate past performance, and its predictive value for future results.

And this “past is past” motif is freeing, especially as we are confronted with the competitive and technological challenges of our modern, global business marketplace.

Yes, when we are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, “past is past” can be a mantra, convincing ourselves that we can manage and lead our businesses to new and better forms and brand positionings, and not just be defined and “boxed’ by what we have done and been before.

And isn’t this, beyond making money (which is so awesome in its own right!), what draws so many of us to the world of business?

To be masters of our own fate, to have and exercise control, to fight through and against, and to win.

But realistically, the past will always be with us, and it especially will rear its confining head when we seek help to grow and change our business in a big way.

It goes like this: A business plan is prepared, outlining the very bright future for our company that we seek to bring to life.

That plan, along with our company’s past financial statements, are reviewed by a prospective investor / partner and the feedback comes back as:

“I love your big vision and ambitious financial goals, and I want to be involved.  But, last year your revenues only grew 10% and your net margins were very thin. So yes, your growth and business plans are awesome, but because of your results-to-date I value your business today as being worth....ZERO.

Now let me be crystal clear. The proof, of course, is in the pudding, the overriding purpose of a business always is to make money, and executives either lead their companies to do so or they do not.

The problem is when we hear, in the said and the unsaid, too much of “stop us in our tracks” feedback like the above, and it gets internalized

And we pull in our sails, if even ever so slightly.

And we lose just a little of our virtue, and start concerning ourselves with what’s in it for ME and not the organization as a whole?

And we start defining, and not informing, ourselves by our past, and get into that rabbit hole dialogue genre of “it hasn't worked before, so it won't work now."

And too many dialogues, internal and external amongst a company's management team, and slowly but surely that company devolves from being one of promise and potential, to one stumbling along in that dreaded land of the walking business dead.

The way to keep this from happening (or if it is happening to your business, to reverse it!), is to come back to our obvious and so freeing first principles.

That the past is past.

That the most important day of our business life is this one, and then the next one, and the next one, and so on and so forth.

And if we feel ourselves being pulled back to the past and slowed and distracted from our future-focused visions and financial goals...

...let’s refocus ourselves on what got us excited to work in business in the first place.

To look forward. To build. To contribute. To fight the good fight every day in every way.

And yes, to break free of the shackles of the past and into that bright future that is our right and destiny as entrepreneurs and executives of ambition.

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The One Thing Every Venture Capitalist Wants


 

A venture capital firm is a financial institution that focuses on providing capital, in the form of equity, to companies who offer them the prospects of significant growth. 

The partners and associates at venture capital firms are known as venture capitalists. The term "VC" or "VCs" applies to both venture capital firms and venture capitalists. 

Unlike angel investors, who invest their own money, VCs are professional institutions that invest other people's money. VC firms raise capital for their own funds from sources which primarily include pension funds, financial and insurance companies, endowments and foundations, individuals and families, and corporations.

The VCs are then charged with providing a solid return on investment on this money. This is the one thing that every VC wants. By providing a solid ROI to their investors, VCs earn bonuses and raise more funds so they can stay in business.

VCs earn returns for their investors by finding high growth companies, making investments in them at favorable terms, guiding and nurturing them, and enacting a liquidity event (e.g., selling the company or having it complete an initial public offering).

Because they are utilizing other people's money, and are judged and compensated by the performance of their investments, venture capitalists are extremely rigorous in their investment decision-making process.

Importantly, VCs tend to only invest in companies with significant market potential of $50 million, $100 million or more. 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 to 100 times or more on their investment.

Industry insiders sometimes refer to the 2:6:2 rule. This rule is that an average portfolio of ten VC investments will include two losses (e.g., companies go bankrupt), six moderately performing companies (may break-even on the investment or lose a little) and two very successful returns.

In fact, an analysis by Bygrave and Timmons of VC funding found that just 6.8% of investments returned ten times or more on the invested capital (these "home runs" are what give VCs high overall returns). Conversely over 60% of investments lost money or failed to exceed the amount of money earned if the capital had been put in an interest-bearing bank account.

The result of this analysis is that typically a venture capitalist will want to see the ability to get 10X their money back or more from investing in your company (they are seeking "home run" investments which compensate for the 60% of their investments that don't pan out) . As such, for every $1 million you are seeking from VCs, you must show them a realistic scenario where you can turn it into $10 million.

So, importantly, when approaching venture capitalists, remember 1) their primary goal is to make significant money from investing in you; and 2) you need to show them how they can earn a 10X return.

Now, if your company can potentially give VCs a 10X return, then seeking venture capital might be right for you. However, raising 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 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.

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Why Climb Our Business Everests?


 

“Because it’s there. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has reached its summit. Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”

- George Mallory, English Mountaineer

This past week, I traveled to the island country of St. Kitts and Nevis to visit three amazing executives and entrepreneurs - Messrs. Scott Caines, Errol Douglas, and Denzel Crooke.

These fine gentlemen are spearheading Golden Rock - a real estate development project that will fundamentally transform for the better the lives of the island’s 50,000+ residents, along with those of neighboring islands, including Antigua, Dominica, and Barbados.

The development will be a model of mixed use, combining elements of residential apartments, commercial office space, retail, entertainment, educational, and health. It will be unlike anything ever developed in the Caribbean, and as its vision is brought to full fruition, unlike anything anywhere in the world.

The obstacles to launch and complete a project of this ambition are significant anywhere, but obviously more so in a smaller, tourism-based locale like St. Kitts.

Actually getting it done requires the principals involved to be the polar opposites of dilettantes, possessing of deep, significant financial and technical expertise, underpinned by an inspirational business vision, awesome teamwork and relentless will to win.

Scott Caines, Errol Douglas, and Denzel Crooke are all this and more.

My time with them on their beautiful island was a reset for me, re-grounding me in the truism that of all of the things that serious, talented, decent, and dedicated among us can involve themselves, entrepreneurial, private sector projects are so often the most valuable.

The very smallness of St. Kitts paints this in particularly sharp relief.

Our Golden Rockers, with their remarkable personal and professional biographies, could take on leadership roles at the highest levels of their Island’s government.

Or they could focus full-time on their numerous philanthropic and charitable pursuits.

Or, better yet, they just don’t have to work as hard as they do, and no one on their breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean Island would fault them for it!

But business-building, on this project and others, is where their comparative advantage is greatest and where their impact can be the most profound.

But it goes deeper, more metaphysical than that.

For sure, St. Kitts needs the 1,000 new, private sector jobs the development will create.

And it needs the educational and healthcare and other awesome facilities envisioned as part of its larger development.

And nearby Caribbean islands need the competitive pressure of projects like it to challenge them to “up their game” and not rely on a "beach" and "cruise stop" tourism - based economic model.

But also and oh so importantly our fine friends Messrs. Caines, Douglas, and Crooke need this project because they are cast of the same stuff as George Mallory.

They build, so to say, to put a there there.

Because they can.

And because doing so is the highest expression of their professional muse and entrepreneurial spirit.

And thus, something new, beautiful, and wonderful is brought into the world.

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