Business Startup Funding: How Even the "Sweatiest Guy" Raised Tons of Funding


 

His name is Kevin Plank. And he was born on August 13, 1972.    

Kevin was a football player at the University of Maryland. But he was no ordinary football player. In fact, he proclaimed himself to be the "sweatiest guy on the football field."     

Being the "sweatiest guy" wasn't a joke to Kevin. He became sick and tired of his cotton t-shirt's inability to keep him dry and comfortable during games and practices. So he decided to do something about it. Specifically, he started searching for a material that would wick the sweat from his body, making him dryer, lighter and faster.    

Kevin succeeded in finding this material, creating products from it, and building a company out of his products. The company, called Under Armour, is now a public company. And when Under Armour went public in November 2005, the company raised $112.5 Million to fuel its growth.

Importantly, Kevin knew that nobody was going to give him $112.5 million in funding to start his company. Rather, he knew he had to raise smaller amounts at first to achieve some success. And with success, he would be able to raise more and more dollars.

So, Plank, while still a college student, started a small business that sold roses for Valentine's Day. While he only made a few thousand dollars from that business, he used that money to initially start Under Armour.

And when he soon burned through those dollars, he got $40,000 from credit cards (he got five credit cards in order to do this) to fund further growth.

And as the company grew, Plank raised more and more money from various funding sources, eventually reaching the promised land of entrepreneurship: going public and raising over $100 million.

Kevin Plank's story is critical to entrepreneurs that need to raise money. Among other things, it should teach you that you can't simply post your idea or business plan online and expect investors to throw money at you. That's just not how funding works.

Rather, you need to figure out the right forms of funding for you based on your stage of development. The latter part (based on your stage of development) is key. Let me explain. While I've identified 41 sources of funding to which entrepreneurs have access, many sources are tied to how far your venture has progressed. For example, if all you have is an idea (and no prototype or beta customers), then you are too early for the vast majority of venture capital firms. In such a case, you need to raise other types of funding first, achieve certain milestones, and then contact venture capitalists.

In addition to understanding which of the 41 sources of funding are right for you, you need to determine what you're willing to give up in return for the funding.

When raising equity funding, you must give up equity or shares in your business. So, if and when your company gets sold or goes public, some of the proceeds will go to your investors and not you.

When raising debt funding, you're agreeing to make future payments of both interest and principle on the loan. And you may need to put up personal items as collateral.

And finally, with alternative and creative funding, which is often a great option for early stage companies, you may not have to give up either equity or agree to future debt payments. But you still must typically give up something.

For example, with vendor financing, you'll give up your right to use multiple vendors (in this type of financing, the vendor will fund your business based on your agreement to use them exclusively for a certain time period). Or with grant funding, you'll give up some of your growth flexibility (since you'll only get fully paid on the grant if you achieve the goals set forth in the grant proposal).

We've all heard the expression, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." This is not necessarily true when raising money. Sure, it helps if you have a rich uncle who's willing to write you a check. But such "friends and family" funding is but a small portion of the funding options available to you as an entrepreneur.

Rather, it's what you know; your knowledge of the types of funding out there and your creativity and perseverance in accessing them that really matter.

So, start by figuring out what company goals you would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Then, determine how much money you will need over this period to get there. And finally, decide what you're willing to give up in return for this amount of funding.

Once you raise that initial funding and achieve those goals, more and bigger funding options will appear. And, in many cases, upon your initial success, funding sources will start to contact you. And that's the exact position you want to be in -- having funding sources competing to fund you, and not you competing with millions of other entrepreneurs for funding.

 

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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Raise Funding in 2018 with Our Proven Funding Pyramid™ Formula

If you’re struggling to raise money, it’s probably because your funding strategy is broken.

Here’s how to do it right

As I explain in this video, the key is to start at the bottom and work your way up the Funding Pyramid.

Click here to watch the video now

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How to Discover Your Most Profitable Marketing Combinations


 

Below is an easy exercise that will boost your profits.

First, list your products and/or services

Create a spreadsheet. In Column A type the names of each product or service you offer.

Second, list your market segments (customer groups)

In the first row of columns B, C, D, etc., write the names of the different types of customers you serve.

For example, if you have a walk-in store as well as a website set up for e-commerce, you will have at least two groups of customers - those who come in to purchase and those who buy online.

Or you may sell to consumers and businesses.

Or you may sell to affluent consumers and less-affluent consumers. Or you might sell different products and/or services to men vs. women.

List all of these customer segments in the first row of columns B, C, D, etc.

Place an "X" in each cell in which you have a combination

To recap, in Column A you have a list of your products and services. And in the top row of the other columns, you have a list of all your customer segments.

Now, place an "X" in each cell in which you offer that product or service to that customer segment.

For example, if you sell insurance to affluent consumers, then type an "X" in the cell that intersects these two variables.

The result will be a chart with "X"s showing all your product/service and customer segment combinations.

Next, write down a list of all the combinations you found. For example, your list might include:

  • insurance to affluent consumers
  • insurance to businesses
  • home security to non-affluent customers
  • etc.

Determine your revenues and profits for each combination

For each combination, type in how much revenue and profit you generate from it.

In many cases, you will find that one combination dominates your profits. Or that one customer segment (among several products and/or services) buys the overwhelming majority of your products and services.

Importantly, in completing this exercise, you may also identify combinations you didn't know even existed.

Sharpen your marketing focus

Most entrepreneurs and business owners place equal marketing focus on ALL their combinations of product/service and customer segments.

But, smart entrepreneurs and business owners place more emphasis on the combinations that are proven winners. Now that you know your winners (i.e., the combinations that are generating the most revenues and profits for you), focus on them.

How?

Using the example of "insurance to affluent consumers" being a winning combination for you, here's what you should do:

1. Do more marketing to them. Figure out how can you reach more affluent consumers. Perhaps stop doing general advertising that reaches both affluent and non-affluent consumers and do more targeted advertising like direct mail or cable television. Or perhaps there's another company serving this clientele with whom you can partner. Etc.

2. Better tailor your marketing to them. Rather than having advertisements that mention several of your products/services, create ads that solely focus on your insurance offering, since this is what generates the most revenues and profits. Likewise, since you know the specific customer segment you want (i.e., affluent individuals) use terminology and images that will specifically appeal to that segment.

Most entrepreneurs and business owners make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. As a result, they water down their value proposition to the customers that give them the most revenue and profits.

Rather, by identifying your most profitable customer/product combinations and focusing your marketing efforts to them, you can quickly grow your revenues and profits, and distinguish yourself from your competition.

 

Suggested Resource: Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template allows you to expertly create your marketing plan. It will help you fully leverage your most profitable marketing combinations and dramatically increase both your revenues and profits. Click here to learn more.

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Overcome Business Stasis [or Pay the Price]


 

A good friend of mine runs an IT consulting business. 

From the outside, it seems successful. He has solid revenues and marquee clients. 

But if you look closely, the business is actually crumbling beneath him. 

Because its core fundamental - the "delta" between what competitive pressures allow him to charge his customers and his fixed and variable costs - especially the cost of his W-2 employees - has been shrinking year after year.

Even more ominously, my CEO friend sees this squeeze only being tightened in the years to come by that merciless combination of high customer information plus low switching costs plus competitors willing and able to perform comparable work with lower cost structures and profit expectations and needs.

Now, let’s be clear, entrepreneurs and executives get paid a lot to identify the root of a business problem, its solution, and then to persist, overcome, and win. 

And to do so no matter which sacred cows might need to be gored in the process, whether those be an old brand identity, nice office space, long-time employees and of course the all time favorite “the way that things have always been done.”  

Alas, my CEO friend, so ambitious, admirable, clear minded and strategically brilliant in so many ways... 

...well he sees these swirls of dangerous marketplace and technological change all around him and intellectually understands what he must do yet he does nothing.

This is business stasis, and there's a strange but solid case to be made that, in spite of how much the speed of business has increased, that it is more of a problem today than ever before.

A first reason for it was outlined by economist Thomas Piketty in his seminal work, Capital In The 21st Century.
 

Pinketty’s hypothesis was that the affluent now make most of their money not via labor - in the case of business owners, from their company’s operating profits - but from their capital - i.e. their inheritances, stocks, bonds, real estate, and the like.

Thusly too many business owners, like my friend, want to see their businesses perform better, but don’t need them to do so to maintain their comfortable lifestyles.

Combine this economic reality with a certain fatalism that nothing that could be done will make a real difference anyway in the face of the inexorable onslaught of technology and globalization and...
 

...a certain “deer-in-the-headlights” inertness and inaction that can overtake even the most dynamic and change-oriented among us.

Now, the above is all intellectually interesting, but does not make it excusable, defensible, or right.

Because just as we could not defend a businessperson who purposefully set bags full of $100 bills aflame, nor should a pass be given to those who sit idly by and watch otherwise promising and valuable businesses slowly crumble because of leadership inaction.

No, what these “inert” business owners and executives need is a big bucket of ice water poured over their heads and a firm slap in the face (or several!) to snap them out of it! 
 

And do what they should do - calmly assess the threats facing their businesses now, along with those inexorably rolling down the road. 

And get out of their way.   

And do something else.

While that “something else” might be different for every business, determining it for a particular business really isn't that hard.

It is usually as plain as day, and when it isn’t a reasonably astute outsider - a hired consultant or a well-credentialed business friend - in a relatively short amount of Q&A, discussion and then competitive research, can easily surmise the needed business pivots. 
 

From there, it is then up to the owner/executive to do what is their sacred responsibility and charge to do.   

To drive change. 

The good news is that once the “change snowball” is set in motion, the additional energy needed to keep it rolling down the hill is normally not all that much. 

The key is to just get it going.  Today. Right now.  Without delay. 

Because waiting on inexorable fate is no way to live. 

Or run a business. 

Need to Overcome Stasis in Your Business? 

Feeling pricing and margin pressure coming at you from both sides and not sure what to do? 

Need a burst of change energy and ideas to get your business unstuck? 

If so, we should talk.  

Click here and complete this short questionnaire as to a few questions regarding your business’ current status, and key goals now.  

And we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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The Secret to Highly Effective Marketing


 

In this article, I'm going to give you the secret to highly effective marketing.

Let me start with an example.

Let's say your competitor runs an advertisement that reaches 10,000 target customers and gets these results.

  • 1 percent response rate (response rate means that prospective customer visited competitor's website, went into their store, called them, etc.)
  • 35 percent conversion rate (conversion rate means the responding customer then purchases)
  • $500 price per widget (widget being the item sold by your competitor)
  • 1.5 widgets per buyer (average buyer purchases 1.5 widgets in initial order)
  • 30 percent profit margin
  • 10 percent repurchase rate (10% of customers buy from your competitor again)

Assuming the ad reached 10,000 target customers, your competitor's gross profit from the ad would have been $8,662.50 (minus the cost of the ad).

Now let's assume that your company did a 20 percent better job on each of these factors. Your results would be as follows:

  • 1.2 percent response rate
  • 42 percent conversion rate
  • $500 price per widget
  • 1.8 widgets per buyer
  • 36 percent profit margin
  • 12 percent repurchase rate

Now let's look at the results.

If your ad reached the same 10,000 target customers, your gross profit would be $19,596.

That's 2.3 times greater than your competitor's.

Now, what would happen if you generated 2.3 times greater profits than your competitors every time you ran an ad?

The answer is that you would absolutely dominate them.

Now, the key marketing secret that I'm sharing with you here is that you don't have to revolutionize your marketing system. Rather, small, 20% improvements in each part of your system lead to revolutionary results.

So, here are some ways in which you can improve each part of your marketing system:

Response Rate

The more you know about your customers' wants and needs, the more easily you can design advertisements that appeals to them.

And the more you know about them, the better you could craft a unique selling proposition (USP) to attract them.

For example, if you are local hardware company and you know your typical buyer is a busy male with a wife, kids, and dog, you could easily craft ads with a higher response rate.

You could also boost response rates by developing better offers that attract customers, such as an offer for a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Conversion Rate

Remember, conversion rates are the percentage of prospective customers that you converted into actual customers.

A few ways you could increase conversion rates include having a better process in place for training your staff and sales team, providing better employee incentives (e.g., commissions or bonuses for closing sales), or by developing and testing sales scripts that boost results.

Number of Widgets Per Buyer

To increase the number of units purchased per transition (including purchasing more widgets or related items), you can rely on similar tactics to increasing conversion rates such as better hiring, training, sales scripts and so on.

Remember McDonalds doubled its profits when it started asking "would you like fries with that?" and increased them again when it starting asking "would you like to supersize that?"

Profit Margins

Better systematizing your business and implementing the right processes and procedures will allow you to generate higher profits per sale than your competitors.

Repurchase Rate

Finally, to increase repurchase rates, do a better job of communicating with your clients and showing them how special they are. For example, send them emails, call them, or send them letters in the mail to educate them and remind them that you have products and services that can help them.

As you just witnessed, making small improvements to each part of your marketing system is incredible powerful and massively increases your profits. If you want to learn more, check out our "Double Your Profits" program which provides detailed training on how to make these improvements in your business.

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Event Marketing Is Making A Comeback


 

There's an old marketing strategy that lately has been helping more and more entrepreneurs and business owners grow their companies. And I used it myself a few months ago and am starting to do more of it.

This strategy is event marketing. Which simply means holding events. Events, particularly when they are physical (versus online workshops or webinars) are very powerful. Particularly in today's internet/virtual age, being able to meet your customers, prospective customers, partners, investors and others face-to-face is very powerful. And much more so than simply email and telephone conversations.

Below I discuss several types of events you can hold, and how to get maximum publicity for them.

Importantly, companies of ALL sizes can hold events. And, they can use them to get lots of free publicity.

What kind of events could you organize (or even just attend) and mention in your PR efforts?

Here are a few that just about any business owner or entrepreneur can do:

  • Set up a workshop teaching something about the problem your product or service solves
  • Business dinners
  • Golf tournaments
  • Networking events
  • Product launch parties
  • Holiday parties
  • Customer appreciation parties
  • Happy hours
  • Seminars for your team or the public
  • Charity functions
  • Exhibiting in, sponsoring or speaking at a trade show
  • Exclusive VIP events for your top customers

Note that even if you don't have office or retail space, you can hold an event. Simply find some other firm that does have space, particularly if that other firm would benefit from it. For example, if you are a consultant, find a law firm that will allow you to use their office space. The law firm would benefit from exposure to the same customers/prospective customers you serve.

Once you've chosen your event and scheduled it, the next step is to get the word out. Here are several free methods you can use:

1. Event Websites

There are several popular websites such as Meetup, Eventful and EventBrite that show visitors a list of local events in their area. Announce your event there, which includes giving the description and details, and some visitors will find it and contact you (or just show up).

Make sure to include everything someone would want to know before making a decision to attend, because it's harder to get people to leave the house these days or attend an online event. Have a compelling call to action and a way to register or RSVP (online or by phone) in order to build a contact list as well as firm up attendance.

Also, the pages you create by announcing events on these sites are search engine-friendly, which means that web searchers may find them searching the internet before the event. They may find it years later, too, and if your contact information is there, consider it a free advertisement for your brand.

2. Local Event Calendars

In addition to these nationwide websites, there are often community calendars and directories that will allow you to submit your activity or event.

Try googling "your city" + "event calendar" to see what comes up. You may find a few websites dedicated to events in your city. Check out the sites' rules to see if it's free to add your listing, and how to do it.

Also, make a list of local newspapers and magazines and check to see if they post upcoming events in the community. Most daily newspapers have one that they publish on the same day every week. Magazines have them in every issue, but you may need to announce it to them 2-3 months ahead of time.

See if the magazines also have event calendars online. The publication itself or its online version should tell you how to submit an event to announce. If not, call them and ask to speak to the person in charge of the events calendar.

3. Social Media Event Marketing

Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to set up events and announce them to your contacts there. This is an additional avenue of reaching your customers (and the press, if you have connected with them already).

The simplest way is to click the "Create an Event" feature on these sites, and copy and paste the description of your event used in the methods above. As you can see, the core strategy here is announcing your event in as many places as possible.

4. Local Broadcast Media

Call your local newspaper reporters and TV/radio stations and let them know about each event. Make a handy list of 10-20 reporters/journalists in your area and you can complete the calls in an hour or two. Or use email or fax; or a combination of these formats.

Nowadays it's fairly easy to visit the websites of these stations and publications to get the contact information of the reporters/journalists you want to target.

Finally, make sure to take plenty of photos at each of your events. This will help you get more coverage now (reporters will write about the outcome of your event) and it will help you with promoting future events.

These 4 methods are simple and easy while maximizing your return for the effort that goes into putting on a great event. This return includes, among others, improving your relationships with existing customers, securing new customers and partners, and getting lots of free publicity.

 

Suggested Resource: Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template allows you to expertly create your marketing plan. It will help you fully leverage your most profitable marketing combinations and dramatically increase both your revenues and profits. Click here to learn more.

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Perfectly Executed Crowdfunding Campaign


 

In my Crowdfunding Formula program, I teach the 14 steps you must follow to successfully raise money from Crowdfunding.

It turns out that Jeremy Smith from Provo, Utah, not only followed these 14 steps to a "t", but really perfected them.

The result: while he set out to only raise $12,000 for his new night light product (the SnapRays Guidelight), he ended up raising over $430,000 (he raised the $12,000 he needed in just 2 hours).

You can see the Crowdfunding raise for yourself at Kickstarter here.

Here are the key reasons Jeremy and the SnapRays Guidelight were successful in their Crowdfunding raise. Make sure you keep these points in mind if/when you use this great new funding source.

Great Video

The video explaining the product and the Crowdfunding raise was excellent. It starts by explaining the problem (i.e., existing nightlights have lots of issues such as bulkiness, etc.). It goes on to explain the benefits of his solution (e.g., ease of install, energy efficient, etc.). It even does a side-by-side comparison versus an existing solution showing how much better it is.

Then, about 2 minutes into the 2:45 minute video, co-founder Sean appears and says “thanks for watching” and explains how he and his team has “poured their lives” into the project or years. This personalizes the video, makes you like him, and thus makes you want to fund the project more.

Finally, the video has inspiring music in the background. While it’s just “stock” music footage, it gets the viewer excited.

Solid Description

Beneath the video, there are tons of pictures of the product, a great description, and answers to all the frequently asked questions people have about it. Where did they uncover what frequently asked questions to answer? Well, from previously presenting to potential investors and partners they developed a list of all the key questions people have.

Variety of Reward Options

When doing a Crowdfunding raise, you offer rewards to those who back you. This company wisely created 11 different types of rewards based on contributions of just $12 to $120. By having this variety, they were essentially able to price discriminate. People who were only able to offer $12, spent that amount, while those with deeper pockets provided more support.

Quality Social Media Marketing

Everything I’ve mentioned so far about this Crowdfunding raise would have been a waste had the founders been unable to drive people to their page. And that’s just what they did. Via a very effective and concerted effort, they took to Facebook and Twitter and generated a big buzz for their raise. As a result, they drove a lot of people to their Crowdfunding page, and those people often funded the company and/or told even more people about it.

Like everything else, it’s all about execution. Having a great idea is one thing. But the magic is when you perfectly execute on it, and raise over $480,000 in under 30 days!

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How to Get Funded in 90 Days or Less

If you need funding fast, you have to use Crowdfunding.

Here’s how to do it right

1. It's fast. You’ll get the money in just 90 days or less.

2. It's easy. You don’t even need a business plan - you can get started right away.

3. You keep ALL the money. It’s not debt, and you don’t you don’t give up any ownership in your company either...

Click here to watch the video and learn more now

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Adapt or Die


 

Last week I wrote about Amazon.

And whether it is a company that we should love or hate.

My ultimate conclusion was that while it is an interesting debate, for almost all small companies it is an irrelevant one, too.

Because the “customer is all powerful” world that the Internet economy has spawned and of which Amazon is the most prominent example is 1,000% here to stay.

And for businesses - especially small businesses - the only real choice is to either adapt to it...

or die.

Luckily, adapting a modern business is far easier than any of us might think.

It begins with coming to grips with the modern customer’s expectation and demand of the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price delivered in the fastest possible time.

Amazon, more so than any company ever, has delivered this to customers through a combination of operational excellence and by being allowed by the financial markets to operate their business on the tiniest of margins for literally decades on end.

And the “Amazon Way” has spread around the world, to thousands of millions of micro-businesses and freelancers - both domestically and overseas - who because of their super low overhead and minimal profit expectations sell and serve customers at extremely low prices.

All so very wonderful for customers, but often impossibly challenging to more traditional businesses across almost every industry.

While this new reality can’t be sugar coated or wished away, as business owners and executives we can take solace that we are customers too.

And as customers, we too can access these low cost sellers and service providers to outsource / reduce our cost structure and to somewhat offset the ever-present margin squeeze.

But in the end if all we do is cut costs it will be no way near enough.

No, we need business protection.

Against the challenge of the Amazons from above, and the swarming competitors from below.

And to be clear, this protection will not, can not, and should not come from the government.

No, the only true form of modern business protection is better strategy.

Better strategy as to how best to adapt and pivot to those “adjacencies” in our industry and to our business model that are more in line with modern marketplace realities.

For many businesses, this might look like serving a more premium and less price sensitive customer demographic, and in turn forsaking the plentiful but more structurally unprofitable mass market.

Or in rethinking our delivery model in a such a way that our customers serve to themselves their purchased products and services, and thereby structurally increasing our efficiency, throughput, and margin.

Uber and AirBNB are prominent examples of this self serve approach, and through a combination of innovative thinking and creative application of new technologies “sharing economy” process models like this can be applied to almost any business.

Or perhaps mixing in a bit of both of the above, on the one hand seeking to serve a mass market via a more self-serve delivery model, and on the other hand raising prices, perhaps under an entirely new brand, and then “walking that talk” with vastly improved product / service quality and customer care.

But as every business is a little different, so for every business the proper adaptation and pivot will be different too.

The only thing that will always be the same is the need to do it.

Because adaptation is way better than death.

Need to Adapt and Innovate Your Business? 

Feeling pricing pressure coming at you from all sides and not sure what to do about it?

Like to tap into some Uber / AirBnB “sharing economy” business model magic? 

Feel you have to do something new to get your business moving in the right direction? 

If so, we should talk.  

Click here and complete this short questionnaire as to a few questions regarding your business’ current status, and key goals now.  

And we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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Crowdfunding Offers 5 Hidden (and Powerful) Benefits


 

Crowdfunding Benefits

Crowdfunding is the latest and greatest way to raise money for a new business, or even a new product or service you want to launch.

But importantly, Crowdfunding offers a ton more value than just the initial funding it provides, pretty much making it a no-brainer for entrepreneurs to use.

Before I get to the "hidden benefits" which make Crowdfunding so valuable, I need to provide a little background on the concept of Crowdfunding.

The most popular type of crowdfunding is what I call rewards-based crowdfunding. Rather than giving up equity, in this type of crowdfunding, entrepreneurs give rewards. These rewards are typically future delivery of their product or service.

Let me give you an example.

Let's say you have an idea for a product that you expect to sell for $50. And that if you had funding now, it would take you six months to build and ship the product.

So, today, you get 5,000 people to pay you $40 for it (a 20% discount).

You would then take the $200,000 (5,000 X $40) and use it to develop your company infrastructure and develop and deliver the product.

As you can see, rewards-based Crowdfunding is essentially pre-selling your product and typically at a slight discount to make it worth the "investor's" while.

So it should be clear now 1) what Crowdfunding is, 2) what rewards-based Crowdfunding is, and 3) that it can effectively be used to raise funding for your business.

Now, while getting funding for your business is great, I want to give you the 5 other key benefits that Crowdfunding offers entrepreneurs like you (because I think they're equally if not more powerful):

1. Market Research

Pre-selling your product is incredible market research. If people buy it, then your marketing message is on target and there is a real need for your product or service.

If people don't buy it, then maybe a market doesn't exist, or you need to adjust your marketing message or target market.

In any case, getting this market research BEFORE raising or trying to raise a ton of money is invaluable. It allows you to test whether you have a winner before going through this process.

2. Built-in Customer Base

When you get others to fund you via rewards-based Crowdfunding, you build a customer base. If you provide a good product or service, these customers will be prone to buy more products and services from you (the same products, upgrades and/or new products you develop) in the future.

3. Case Studies/Testimonials

In today's world, with so much information and opinions, it's hard to know who to trust. And at the top of the list of who and what we trust are the testimonials of our friends and others.

So, by getting testimonials from the customers you gain from Crowdfunding (assuming you delivered them the product/service and they liked it), you can influence more customers to buy from you.

Likewise, if your offering permits, by offering "before and after" profiles of your customers, you can develop Case Studies which influence future customers to buy from you.

4. Word of Mouth Marketing

People who fund your company will tell their friends about it. Particularly if you make them feel like founders/initial investors (which you can easily do via email and on your website and/or via direct mail).

Played correctly, Crowdfunding can result in thousands of customers, most of whom can tell numerous friends and colleagues about your products and services. This word of mouth marketing can be worth millions of dollars.

5. PR

Local media sources are enamored with Crowdfunding as it's new and unique. As a result, countless entrepreneurs who have raised Crowdfunding have been profiled in local newspapers, radio shows and TV broadcasts.

So, with little legwork, raising Crowdfunding can get you lots of PR.

In summary, Crowdfunding can give your business a ton more than just funding. It can give you a massive marketing push and advantage that can ultimately lead to your company's success.

Want Crowdfunding for your business? I developed a simple-to-follow program called "Crowdfunding Formula."

The program is a series of videos I recorded that walk you through each of the 14 steps to raising rewards-based Crowdfunding. Many of you have already joined the program and raised money.

If you haven't, click here to get Crowdfunding for your business now!

Raising money from Crowdfunding is so much easier and faster than traditional sources of funding like venture capital and angel financing. In fact, I recommend that most entrepreneurs raise money with Crowdfunding first, start growing their companies, and then approach venture capitalists later for additional funding (at which time you will be able to give them much less equity since your company will be more valuable).

And, as you learned above, Crowdfunding will give you far more than money to launch your business, product and/or service.

Access Crowdfunding for your business now!

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How to Get Funded in 90 Days or Less

If you need funding fast, you have to use Crowdfunding.

Here’s how to do it right

1. It's fast. You’ll get the money in just 90 days or less.

2. It's easy. You don’t even need a business plan - you can get started right away.

3. You keep ALL the money. It’s not debt, and you don’t you don’t give up any ownership in your company either...

Click here to watch the video and learn more now

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Crowdfunding 101


 

Crowdfunding-101

I believe Crowdfunding is the most significant new fundraising tactic for entrepreneurs in the past decade. In fact, it might be one of the most important fundraising tactics ever.

In this essay I will let you know exactly what Crowdfunding is and how to get it.

What is Crowdfunding?


According to Wikipedia, “Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing or crowd sourced capital) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”

In layman’s terms, Crowdfunding is getting a group of regular individuals (versus banks, venture capitalists or angel investors) to collectively fund your venture.

What are the 3 Core Types of Crowdfunding?

I have identified three core types of Crowdfunding.

The first is debt-based Crowdfunding also known as peer-to-peer lending. This is offered by sites like LendingClub.com and Prosper.com. On these sites, entrepreneurs (and individuals) can solicit loans from other individuals. Because they are loans, they must be paid back. Generally these loans are capped at $50,000 per year.

The second type is equity-based Crowdfunding. This is offered by sites like Crowdfunder.com. With these sites, individuals who give you money become investors and own equity in your company.

The final type of Crowdfunding is donation-based Crowdfunding. This type of Crowdfunding is the most popular and is offered by sites including Kickstarter.com, IndieGoGo.com and several others.

Donation-based Crowdfunding is my favorite since you neither give up equity nor have to repay the debt you receive. And it’s MUCH easier to raise since there are tons more potential funders than funders of debt-based or equity-based Crowdfunding.

However, there is an important caveat with donation-based Crowdfunding. Which is this: generally people don’t donate money to your cause simply out of altruism. Rather, the companies who have successfully raised donation-based Crowdfunding offer rewards in return for donations.

Specifically, these rewards typically include the product or service the company intends to produce and/or offer. For example, San Francisco’s Peter Dering wanted to raise money for a new product he conceived called the Capture Camera Clip System (an accessory for photographers that secures their cameras to their other gear).

So, as a reward to those who donated $50 or more, he promised to ship them the Capture Camera Clip System product when it was developed.

So, as you can see, this type of Crowdfunding is essentially pre-selling your products or services to your customers. Which is really the same as customer financing, which has been around for a while. But, with the internet, it’s so much easier to reach tons of prospective customers.

What I also love about donation or rewards-based Crowdfunding is that it is amazing market research. I mean, if customers are willing to buy your product or service before it’s even available, you clearly have a winner on your hands.

Oh, by the way, Peter Dering raised $364,698 in Crowdfunding for the Capture Camera Clip System. Yup, it works!

And in case you were wondering whether donation or rewards-based Crowdfunding can work for you, below is a sample of companies who have recently raised funding with it:

- An online magazine who raised $3,895
- A mustard manufacturer who raised $4,293
- A cupcake retailer who raised $7,240
- A butcher shop who raised $16,405
- A portable hot water heater which who raised $60,642
- A speaker company who raised $88,321
- A bike lock which raised $108,065
- A video company who raised $120,514
- A cell phone accessory which raised $131,220
- A battery charger which raised $145,034
- A digital camera which raised $169,209
- A tablet stand which raised $190,352
- A social networking company who raised $200,642
- A coffee temperature device which raised $306,944

What are the Steps to Attaining Donation-Based Crowdfunding?

Below are the 14 steps I’ve identified that are critical to successfully raising donation or rewards-based Crowdfunding.

1.  Choose your Crowdfunding platform
2.  Create an account
3.  Create your funding project
4.  Categorize your project
5.  Create your project tagline
6.  Create your project teaser text
7.  Create your full text project summary
8.  Determine the right fundraising amount
9.  Determine the right donation time
10. Develop your list of rewards
11. Create your project visuals
12. Create your project video
13. Promote your project to your network
14. Maintain and update your project

Follow these steps and you can get hundreds or thousands of individuals to donate money to your venture. And then you’ll be off to the races.

I developed a simple-to-follow program called Crowdfunding Formula.

The program is a series of videos I recorded that walk you through each of the 14 steps to raising donation or rewards-based Crowdfunding. To access Crowdfunding for your business, check out Crowdfunding Formula now.

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How to Get Funded in 90 Days or Less

If you need funding fast, you have to use Crowdfunding.

Here’s how to do it right

1. It's fast. You’ll get the money in just 90 days or less.

2. It's easy. You don’t even need a business plan - you can get started right away.

3. You keep ALL the money. It’s not debt, and you don’t you don’t give up any ownership in your company either...

Click here to watch the video and learn more now

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8 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Business


 

Maximize-the-Value-of-Your-Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. They build relationships with customers

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

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

4. They make sure their businesses are stable

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

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

5. They maximize their revenues

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

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

6. They hold expenses accountable


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

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

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

7. They keep great records


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

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

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


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

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

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

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The Ultimate Path to Wealth
as an Entrepreneur

What’s the ultimate path to wealth as an entrepreneur?

Build your company and then sell it for millions to the highest bidder.

In this video, I explain precisely how to build a sellable company.

It starts out with the 3 most dangerous trends facing entrepreneurs and business owners today (so you can avoid them).

Don't build your business the wrong way.

Click here to watch the video now and build a sellable business

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