The One Thing Your Business Needs


 

To succeed, a business doesn’t need technical nor finance nor sales nor marketing nor customer support skills and competencies. 

It doesn’t even need a physical location. 

But it does need one thing.  

To illustrate, picture in your mind’s eye what you see when you think about a business.  

For most of us that vision starts with the entrepreneur.

That hard working and
so inspirational individual that stakes their life to start, build, lead a company.

One company.

At
one physical location where he or she manages and works alongside a small team of employees who also work only for that one company.

Now, of course there are elements of this traditional structure that are completely optimal.

First and foremost is the primacy it rightly places on the entrepreneur, and upon their creative force and perseverance as the beating heart of a dynamic and innovative business. 
 

And its simpleness and leanness empowers the kind of highly functional small teams that are the most efficient builders of big and great things. 

But beyond this, when it comes to how a business should be structured and organized, or whether that entrepreneur and his or her team should focus on one, or multiple businesses... 

...anything goes.

Because the ability to “outsource and fractionalize” every and any business work process is now not just not possible, but is a best practice.

Starting with technical processes and projects - like software and app development, web design, IT systems and the like.
 

For the vast majority of businesses it would actually be strange and anachronistic to even attempt these kinds of projects “in-house,” versus via outsourced service providers (either domestic or overseas).

Now from outsourcing technical projects, it is a small jump to outsourcing traditionally in-house functions like finance and sales.

Bookkeeping and accounting have been been outsourced forever, but in the last few years the popularity and effectiveness of outsourced and virtual CFO and finance advisory services like Tatum, SuperCFO, and the Newport Board Group has grown significantly.
 

And the same is true for sales, as proliferating are not just purveyors of "lead generation" and “appointment setting” services, but also companies that will not only identify and set prospect appointments, but close them for us too! 

The same goes for customer service and product fulfillment, and though still idiosyncratic and difficult to do well, for marketing and branding as well.

So if a business doesn't need technical nor finance nor sales nor marketing nor customer support in-house, then what does it need?

Well, it doesn’t need a physical location, which of course can also be outsourced. 
 

In the form of shared fulfillment, or co-working office space, and just via the all-powerful smartphone, which allows us all to work anytime from anywhere, on pretty much everything.

How about a firm’s culture and its strategy?

Of course  there are phenomenal consultants in these domains as well, and “fractionalizing” high-end business functions like these allows them to be completed at a far higher level of sophistication than when done in-house.
 

Ok, well how about organizing and managing all of these outsourcers? 

That has to be done in-house, does it not?  

Not really, as there are business “wedding planners,” individuals and firms that hire themselves out as organizers and managers of all of a firm’s outsourced service providers and partners. 

So yes almost any business function can be outsourced. 

Almost. 

Because there is one extremely important business thing that can’t now nor ever be outsourced. 

That one thing that comes back to why entrepreneurs do and must exist in the first place. 

Motive force. 

Or to say it another way, entrepreneurial will and desire. 

Great entrepreneurs will always be needed to provide this magic element to get the whole engine started. 

And then to channel that will and desire into problem-solving excellence to grow either one business, a handful, or many dozens of them.

Started and grown serially, or increasingly so all at the same time. 

The trick is to not get ourselves so consumed by “the noise” that our motive force gets distracted and dissipated attempting to solve problems that could and should be more easily and cheaply solved by someone else.  

Outsourcing and the fractionalization of work makes this enticingly and excitedly possible. 

But only entrepreneurial motive force makes it real.

Is your business too “traditional?”  

Is it not utilizing the power of outsourcing to increase sales and reduce costs?  

Is it not generating the kinds of profits that attract to it business suitors of all types?

Are you unable to pursue multiple business opportunities at once?  

Have a key business initiative you would like some fresh ideas on how to get done?

If any of these describe your current situation, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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How To Raise Funding Using Milestones


 

How To Raise Funding Using Milestones

I wish I could just say that if you do X, Y & Z, you'll magically raise millions of dollars for your venture. But unfortunately, that's not how raising capital works.

One key reason for this is that 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.

For example, let's say that two entrepreneurs want to open a new restaurant. Which is the riskier investment?

• Entrepreneur A has put together a business plan for the new restaurant.

• Entrepreneur B has also put together a business plan for the restaurant...and 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 Entrepreneur B is less risky, because Entrepreneur B has 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.

To 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.

Example: Launch billboard marketing campaign over 6 months, spending $18,000

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. 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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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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Categories:
 

The 7 Keys to Raising Funding in 2018


 

The 7 Keys to Raising Funding in 2018

Raising funding is hard. This is actually a good thing. Because if it were easy, everyone would raise money and start a business, and competition would be ferocious. Better yet, since most entrepreneurs won't take the time to read this essay, you'll know this insider information and have a huge leg-up on them in raising capital.

So, here are 7 things you must know to raise money today.

1. Understand That Funding Doesn't Take Place All At Once

No matter how great your company or idea is, you are probably not going to get a $10 million check right away. Rather, you will typically raise several "rounds" of capital.

You start with a smaller round or amount of funding. Then, as your business grows, you are eligible for larger rounds of funding. This is because your business proves itself over time (eliminating some risk to investors) and your valuation rises as you grow (enabling you to raise larger sums of money).

2. Choose the Proper Source(s) of Funding

Choosing the right source of funding is the key to the Growthink Funding Pyramid™. Some forms of funding are much easier to raise than others. And based on your stage of development, different forms of funding are more relevant.

For example, the funding sources available to a pre-revenue startup are very different than the sources available to a 3-year old company generating $1 million in annual revenues. Case in point: Google initially failed when it tried to raise money from venture capitalists. The key is to go after the right sources of funding at the right time.

3. Build Relationships Early

According to Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, "The perfect entrepreneur/VC relationship is one where each has established respect and trust with the other well before an investment transaction is broached."

The key is to build these relationships early. So, even if you don't qualify for a $5 million round of venture capital today, start meeting with venture capitalists so they know you when you do qualify a year from now.

4. Keep Your Business Plan Current

One of the most important things to show in your business plan is what you've accomplished in your business to date. And ideally, every month you are accomplishing more. So, be sure to update your plan with this progress.

Importantly, when you meet a lender or investor, you want to be able to give them your business plan in a timely manner. So finish your plan now, and keep it up-to-date, so you can send it off at a moment's notice.

5. Always be a Marketer

In raising money, the best company doesn't always win. Rather, the best marketer wins. That is, the entrepreneurs that are best able to market their companies to lenders and investors are the ones who raise the money.

Marketing is the process of finding the right investor, convincing them to meet with you, and then convincing them to invest in your business. Yes, this is very similar to how you market a product or service. So make sure to use your marketing skills.

6. Have "Thick Skin"

When raising funding, be prepared for a lot of "no's." Going back to the Google example, even when Google was ready for venture capital, the majority of venture capitalist said "no."

When an investor says "no," it doesn't necessarily mean that your venture is not a good one. It simply means that the venture is not a good investment fit for them. You must have "thick skin" and be able to bounce back from lots of "no's" and persevere.

When failing over and over again to create the light bulb, Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Have the same mentality with investors. That is, think, "I have not failed. I've just found 100 investors that aren't a good fit."

7. Adapt as Needed

While you must have "thick skin," that doesn't mean to be foolishly stubborn. What I mean by this is that if you hear the same feedback from investors over and over again, you shouldn't ignore it. Rather, you should adapt.

For example, if several prospective investors tell you they want to see a sample of your product or service before considering funding you, create it for them. Don't just plow forward with contacting more and more investors in this case.

By adapting to the needs of investors, particularly when you hear the same feedback multiple times, you can make the requisite changes to raise the money you need.

Understanding these seven funding truths will help you raise the funding you need to grow your business. For additional assistance, this "truth about funding" presentation will prove quite helpful.

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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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Categories:
 

The Story That Launched A Billion Dollar Business


 

The right story can grow your business into an amazing success. That being said, consider this great story:

    On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both - as young college graduates are - were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

    Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

    They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.

    But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

    Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

    The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.

    And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: to give its readers knowledge - knowledge that they can use in business.


The above story/sales letter, written by Martin Conroy, was used by the Wall Street Journal for 25 years starting in 1974. Doing the math regarding how many people this letter was sent to, the percentage of orders that came from it, and the subscription prices, it is estimated that this story resulted in $1 billion in sales for the paper.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that stories are an extremely effective, but often overlooked, sales tool that can allow emerging ventures to compete with large established companies. Stories allow companies to get their prospects involved in their message. It gets them excited. And then they want to learn more.

Here's an example of another startup who crafted a great story...

    I’m about to tell you a true story. If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don’t believe me, I will make it worth your while to change your mind. Let me explain.

    Lynn is a friend of mine who knows good products. One day he called excited about a pair of sunglasses he owns. “It’s so incredible!” he said. “When you first look through a pair you won’t believe it.” What will I see? I asked. What could be so incredible?

    Lynn continued. “When you put on these glasses your vision improves, objects appear sharper, more defined. Everything takes on an enhanced 3D effect and it’s not my imagination. I just want you to see for yourself.”


The story goes on to discuss all the benefits of Joe Sugarman’s BluBocker sunglasses… over 20 million pairs of which have now been sold!

Does your company have a great story? If you do, great. If not, create one.

And once you have a story, where should it go? To start, it should go in your business plan. Use your story to excite investors, and others like potential partners and employees. And use your story in your marketing like the Wall Street Journal and BluBocker sunglasses did.

Success can be a simple as crafting a great story (and then delivering on the story’s promise of course). So start crafting today!

 

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Get Your Free Copy of “Start at the End”

It’s the 5th year anniversary of my best-selling book -- Start At The End -- and to celebrate, I want you to have a copy for free (just help me out with the shipping).

start at the end cover

The book covers my favorite topic…

… how to create an effective business plan, so you grow a successful, profitable company and achieve your goals.

As I explain in the book, the key is to start by creating the long-term vision of where you want to go… and then reverse engineer it.

Click here to learn more and grab your free copy now (just help me out with the shipping).

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

How to Add “Championship Caliber” to Your Business


 

Did you catch the end of the Alabama-Georgia College Football Championship game on Monday? 

It was incredible (unless, of course, you’re a Georgia fan). 

The game provided an awesome wisdom for business executives and entrepreneurs seeking to progress their organizations from good to championship caliber.

Alabama, the betting favorite, fell behind early, and then at halftime benched their starting quarterback for 18 year old freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who made himself an Alabama and schoolyard legend by leading his team back to tie the game at the end of regulation play, and then winning it in overtime with a 41 yard touchdown bomb. 

In a sudden instant, unbridled joy broke out on the Alabama sidelines, leaving their famously grizzled and dour 66 year old coach Nick Saban, winner of five previous national championships, to say that “'I've never been happier in my life.”  

The sad flip of these emotions were seen and felt on the Georgia sideline, tears of heartbreak and disappointment to have worked so hard, to have come so close, and to have it slip away at the end. 

And in the game’s topsy turvy and quick ending, and then in the vast contrast of experience between that of the winning and losing team, the four letter word that stuck in my mind was luck.

Because the game was as even could be - with the smallest sum of the breaks and bounces and rotations of the ball separating the two teams. 


And with those breaks, heaped upon Alabama was status, brand enhancement, and yes money...
 

...while upon Georgia for better or worse fell the opposite - some respect for sure for making it so far but for the most part just that quiet disappearance that is the fate of unlucky losers always.

Business is like this too, is it not?

Some companies have talent, work hard, get lucky, and win big (see Amazon, Facebook, Google, et al).
 

So many other companies too have talent and hard-working cultures, but for almost impossible to pinpoint reasons for them that magic ingredient of luck just never gets sprinkled in. 

And those companies don’t win anyway near as big.

This “unfair” reality, just as it will for Georgia fans, has forever flummoxed and frustrated otherwise calm, rational and optimistic entrepreneurs and executives. 

But the paradox of luck is that while of course it greatly influences and determines whether or not a business is a big success, in the end...

...luck doesn’t matter.

Luck doesn't matter because nobody, except perhaps for our mothers, cares whether we have it or not. 
 

Luck doesn't matter because competitive business and society will never balance the “scales of justice” between those whose luck is good and those whose it isn’t. 

And of course luck doesn't matter because there's nothing we can do about it.

It is, by its nature and definition, random and thus out of our hands and power to effect or influence it.
 

So this allows us to focus as businesspeople, just as both the Alabama and Georgia football players and coaches will once they get off their respective highs and lows from their awesome game. 

On the next practice. On the next deal. The next hire. The next new product.  

The next new company. 

And as we do, luck may or may not with us.  

But it's only when we stop in our pursuit of it that we truly lose and fail.

Let's never wish that kind of luck on anyone.

Give Your Business a New Year’s Gift. January is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring. 

For the past 19 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including: 

Whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable. 

In the spirit of the New Year, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond. 

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler. 

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The Starting Point to ALL Success


 

The REAL Reason Businesses Fail to Achieve Success

Soon after entrepreneurs and business owners start businesses, they tend to become trapped in the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month struggles...

At some point, virtually all of us become 100% focused on the short-term and lose sight of our long-term visions. As a result, we begin to wander, and never achieve the initial vision we had when we first started or bought our companies.

Specifically, we set short-term goals and create short-term plans (if any plans at all). And as the United States Small Business Administration found after numerous studies, the #1 reason business owners fail to achieve success is lack of formal business planning.

That's right, you must have BOTH 1) a long-term vision and business plan, AND 2) a short-term vision and business plan that puts you on the right trajectory towards achieving the success you want.

So how do you do this?
 
The Solution is to Forget About Today And 'Start At The End'


"If you don't know where you're going, you probably won't get there."

Yogi Berra

This quote from Yogi Berra is so simple, yet so true. If you don't know where you want to go, you'll never get there. It's like driving in a foreign country without a map or GPS system.

And it's the same with your business. If you don't know where you want to take your business, how can you possibly get there? You can't.

In business, as in everything else, you need to have a clear vision of where you want to go. Then, and only then, can you create a plan to get you there. The key is to "Start At The End." Figure out where you want to go. And then reverse engineer the path to get there.

So, oddly enough, the starting point to all success is actually at the end! Now, the reverse engineering process of getting to the end is all about figuring out short-term goals.

Specifically, once you figure out what you want to accomplish by the end, you can estimate what you need to accomplish in the next year to put you on the right trajectory towards meeting your ultimate goals.

And then you can figure out what you need to complete this quarter to get on the path to your annual goals. Further, you can determine what you need to achieve this month to reach your quarterly goals. Likewise, you can figure out what you need to accomplish this week to meet your monthly goals. And lastly, you can figure out what you need to do today to accomplish your weekly goals.

Success really is this easy; it's simply constantly breaking down your ultimate vision into smaller pieces, and then focusing on completing those pieces (rather than getting distracted as most of us do).

For specific tips and strategies to envision the company you'd like to build and to reverse engineer that vision into a step-by-step plan you can follow to achieve it, pick up a free copy of my book, Start At The End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger And Faster By Reversing Their Business Plan.

------------------------------------------------------------

Get Your Free Copy of “Start at the End”

It’s the 5th year anniversary of my best-selling book -- Start At The End -- and to celebrate, I want you to have a copy for free (just help me out with the shipping).

start at the end cover

The book covers my favorite topic…

… how to create an effective business plan, so you grow a successful, profitable company and achieve your goals.

As I explain in the book, the key is to start by creating the long-term vision of where you want to go… and then reverse engineer it.

Click here to learn more and grab your free copy now (just help me out with the shipping).

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

Why Most Entrepreneurs Behave Like Drug Addicts


 

What is the goal of New York Giants or any football team?

The answer should be easy. This team's goal each and every year is to win the Super Bowl.

There's no question about this. Every player shows up for pre-season training with that goal in mind. Every practice drill is performed with that goal in mind. And every game is played to win, because each win will put the team one step closer to the Super Bowl.

So, what is your company's end goal? Can you answer this question without missing a beat? Do you clearly know and understand what your organization has set out to achieve? And, just as important: does every employee in your organization know what this goal is?

And most importantly, do you know precisely what you need to do this month, this week, and today, to make significant progress towards this end goal?

If not, then THAT is the real reason why your business is "stuck."

If you don't know precisely what you need to do beyond today, then you're thinking like a drug addict.
Let me explain. The most successful entrepreneurs in the world focus on the long-term. Sir Richard Branson. Donald Trump. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. And many more -- they all had BIG long-term visions, even when they were just starting out.

In fact, ALL successful people think long-term. These are individuals who build trees under which their grandchildren will sit.

On the other side of the spectrum are drug addicts. Drug addicts don't think at all about tomorrow. They spend all their time today looking for their next quick fix. Their only plans are to figure out how to immediately get more drugs. As a result, they never achieve success. But rather, they fall deeper and deeper into despair.

So, how do you run your business? Do you act like a drug addict and focus each day on trying to increase today's revenues and profits?

Or, do you operate like a successful entrepreneur, with a methodical plan that will BOTH build revenues and profits today AND create the necessary infrastructure for your long-term growth, several years from now?

Answer honestly.

The key is to start by creating the long-term vision of where you want to go, and then reverse engineer it.
You see, if I asked where you'd like your business to be in 5 years, or 1825 days, you'd probably be able to answer fairly easily.

But how about if I asked you where you'd like to be in 1824 days? Or 1823 days?

And what about 987 days from now?

Or 481 days from now?

Or 84 days from now?

The fact is that you COULD answer these questions for every single day from now until 5 years from now, all the way back to the present day.

And if you did that, you'd know exactly what you'd have to do tomorrow to be on the right trajectory to meet your 30 day, 365 day and even 5 year (1825-day) goals and vision!

Now, in reality, setting goals for each of the next 1825 days is not practical. Not only would it take too much time to complete, but your business and strategy needs to evolve over time. No business operates in a vacuum, and you must be flexible and willing to change.

But, you can figure out where you need to be in the next year, and figure out what you need to accomplish this month to allow you to get there. And then you could plan your days to ensure that progress is continually made.

In summary, to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to have a clear goal and vision of what you want to achieve. Then you need to create a step-by-step game plan to get there. Because you can't go from A to Z without achieving B, C, D and so on. The key being that you must plan out and execute on the smaller periodic goals (e.g., weekly, monthly, annual goals) that you must accomplish to achieve your end goal.

For my proven methodology on how to create a step-by-step plan to build your ideal company, pick up a free copy of my book, Start At The End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger And Faster By Reversing Their Business Plan.

------------------------------------------------------------

Get Your Free Copy of “Start at the End”

It’s the 5th year anniversary of my best-selling book -- Start At The End -- and to celebrate, I want you to have a copy for free (just help me out with the shipping).

start at the end cover

The book covers my favorite topic…

… how to create an effective business plan, so you grow a successful, profitable company and achieve your goals.

As I explain in the book, the key is to start by creating the long-term vision of where you want to go… and then reverse engineer it.

Click here to learn more and grab your free copy now (just help me out with the shipping).

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

The 10 Best Performing Companies of 2017


 

Which 10 companies had the best performance in 2017? 

Why did they perform so well? 

What can your business learn from them to ensure better results in 2018?

Well, 2017 was an epic year for the stock market, with the Dow racing 25% higher, the S&P 500 up 19%, and the NASDAQ up a whopping 28%. 

Driving these great returns above all else were great business performances by great companies.    

Here are ten of the best of them, along with one key lesson from each of their 2017 successes that can be put to work in any business right away:

#10. D. R. Horton (NYSE: DHI). D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder, benefited from new home sales reaching 10-year highs in 2017, saw its stock price rise 87.8 percent last year. 

A Key Lesson from their 2017 Success: As a business competes in a cyclical market like housing, when market conditions turn strongly in our favor as they did for homebuilders last year, be extremely aggressive and highly urgent in pursuit of as many new sales and customers as possible.  

Because when the downturn inevitably comes, outsized profits earned from go-go times like these will see us through the darker days.  

#9. Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL), saw its mobile payment business jump 54%, helping drive the company’s stock price up 87.9% for the year. 

Key Lesson: Explore and invest constantly in new technologies. Not all of these investments will pay off, but the ones that do will transform tired and slow growth businesses into fresh and fast-growing ones. 

#8. Boeing (NYSE: BA).  Boeing, with its commercial plane deliveries increasing by 7% in 2017, saw its stock rise 90.3% in 2017. Wow!   

Awesome fun fact - at the Paris Air Show last June Boeing sold 571 new planes, totaling $75 billion in new orders.  

Key Lesson: Think, act, and sell BIG.  If Boeing can sell 571 planes at one industry get together, how much business can we do at our next conference? 

#7. Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). Leading semiconductor company Micron finished the year up 90.7%, driven by big anticipated growth in key new markets like artificial intelligence, online gaming, and cryptocurrency mining. 

Key Lesson: It is easy to be “snarky” and cynical about the potential of highly hyped new business models like cryptocurrency, cannabis, and the like, but there are real companies making real dollars in these fast-emerging businesses. 

Perhaps put a 2018 goal in place to explore how blockchain technologies might open up new markets, products, and services for your business? 

#6. Alcoa Corp (NYSE: AA). Alcoa, the world’s sixth largest producer of aluminum, saw its stock gain 92.8% in 2017, driven by rising commodity prices and the greatly improved prospects for domestic manufacturing.  

Also, in late 2016 Alcoa spun off a number of its non core businesses - greatly reducing its debt load and more importantly allowing the company to focus on what it does best - producing as much aluminum as possible at the lowest cost. 

Key Lesson: Identify and focus on your core assets and competencies and sell, shut down, spin off, and / or forsake everything else. 

#5. Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN). With Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, seeing double digit growth in 2017, Wynn Resorts - owner of the biggest casino in the region - saw its shares rise by 94.7 percent.

Key Lesson: 15 years ago, Steve Wynn, the King of Las Vegas, saw a huge opportunity in Macau. He put billions of dollars at risk, and suffered years of massive losses, to pursue and profit from it.  

Now that bet, and his vision, are paying off big time.   

Let’s be like him in with our BIG dreaming, thinking, and doing.

#4. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX), with positive test data for its new cystic fibrosis drug, saw a massive 105.2 percent gain in its stock price in 2017. 

Key Lesson: Learn from big pharma and commit to long-term research and intellectual property development strategies. 

It is risky. It is hard. But when it hits it pays off bigger than anything else we can possibly do in our business. 

#3. First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR). Stabilizing solar panel prices and “America First” manufacturing policies in Washington drove a 112.9 percent gain in the company’s stock.

Key Lesson: With local, state, and federal government expenditures close to 40% of the economy, policy and regime changes have BIG impacts on wide swaths of the economy (see healthcare, manufacturing, etc.).  

Let’s be always prepared to pivot and innovate our business models in anticipation of these changes.  

#2. NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG). NRG, one of the largest energy companies in the world, saw its stock finish up an amazing 128.4% in 2017 as they executed on plans to divest much of their renewables business and focus on more core, electricity producing assets. 

Key Lesson: As with Alcoa, look long and hard at all of the business things we do, identify those that we are truly world class at, and as much as possible stop doing anything but those things.  

#1. Align Technology (NASDAQ: ALGN), Align, which makes the famed Invisalign “clear braces” orthodontic products, was the best performing stock in the S&P last year, up 135.6%.  

Its revenues increased 38.3% in the third quarter as shipments to teenage patients grew more than 50%, demonstrating a successful transition from the company’s traditional more adult-focused customer base.

Key Lesson:  Find, and exploit, your customer and market “adjacencies.”   

To do so, sometimes all that is required is a simple repackaging and /or rebranding for a new audience of our existing products and services - i.e. don’t make business harder than it is.  

Great and easy business wisdoms from these 2017 awesomely performing companies. 

Do what and as they do and maybe and hopefully your company will join this high-flying list in the New Year! 

Give Your Business a New Year’s Gift.  January is a natural time to take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the past year, while developing a steely resolve to profit from the awesome opportunities that the New Year is sure to bring.

For the past 19 years, Growthink has helped companies like yours grow more rapidly by creating comprehensive Growth Plans. We catalyzed success for clients including:

  • Arganteal (software deployment automation) secured $611K in growth capital.
  • DNT Express (logistics) secured $2.2M in debt funding for facility expansion.
  • FutureFuel (HRTech+FinTech) successful $1.6M financing round.
  • Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) acquired our client manufacturing process control company Ometric.
  • MPulse (SaaS), acquired by JDM Technology Group.
  • NativeAds (digital advertising) closed on a $4M venture financing.
  • Permacity, completed the world's largest solar rooftop project and increased revenue by over 35%.
  • PayCertify (fintech), secured $700k in seed funding.
  • ViewQwest, launched in Malaysia in Q3 2016 with Indonesia next in line.

What do all of these success stories have in common? 

The entrepreneurs and executives running these great companies understood that whether you're looking to raise capital, sell your company, expand current market share or enter new markets, having a solid growth plan and roadmap is indispensable. 

So, in the spirit of the New Year, we would like to give your business the gift of a complimentary consultation with one of our growth advisors to help you identify your most valuable growth initiatives to pursue in 2018 and beyond.

To accept, simply click here to arrange a day and time via our online call scheduler.

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Do This to Maximize the Value of Your Business in 2018


 

In this recorded webinar, Five Steps to Maximize Your Valuation - I reveal the 5 steps you can take in 2018 to dramatically increase the sale price of your business, and dramatically decrease the time needed to achieve it, including:

  • How to tailor your business value and sale story specifically for the unique conditions of these extremely strong business and financial markets
  • The most likely impact of the recently passed tax reform bill on business value and sellability
  • The 3 Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs and Executives make that effectively render their businesses unsellable
  • The 5 things that all businesses that sell for high valuations have and do
  • A simple formula to determine how much your business is worth right now
  • And much, much more!

Access the webinar recording via this link

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How to Write a Business Plan for Raising Venture Capital


 


Are you looking to raise venture capital?

You need a good idea – and an excellent business plan.

Business planning and raising venture capital go hand-in-hand. A business plan is required for attracting venture capital. And the desire to raise capital (whether from an individual “angel” investor or a venture capital firm) is often the key motivator in the business planning process.

But how exactly will your business plan persuade investors to sign a check?

This article provides advice on how to position each section of the business plan for an investor audience. These tips draw on Growthink’s decades of experience consulting to start-ups in the business planning and capital raising process. You can download Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template here.


Executive Summary

Goal of the executive summary: Stimulate and motivate the investor to learn more.

  • Hook them on the first page. Most investors are inundated with business plans. Your first page must make them want to keep reading.

  • Keep it simple. After reading the first page, investors often do not understand the business. If your business is truly complex, you can dive into the details later on.

  • Be brief. The executive summary should be 2 to 4 pages in length.



Company Analysis

Goal of the company analysis section: Educate the investor about your company’s history and explain why your team is perfect to execute on the business opportunity.

  • Give some history. Provide the background on the company, including date of formation, office location, legal structure, and stage of development. 

  • Show off your track record. Detail prior accomplishments, including funding rounds, product launches, milestones reached, and partnerships secured, among others.

  • Why you? Demonstrate your team’s unique unfair competitive advantage, whether it is technology, stellar management team, or key partnerships.

Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Industry Analysis

Goal of the industry analysis section: Prove that there is a real market for your product or service.

  • Demonstrate the need – rather than the desire – for your product. Ideally, people are willing to pay money to satisfy this need.

  • Cite credible sources when describing the size and growth of your market.

  • Use independent research. If possible, source research through an independent research firm to enhance your credibility. For general market sizes and trends, we suggest citing at least two independent research firms.

  • Focus on the “relevant” market size. For example, if you sell a portable biofeedback stress relief device, your relevant market is not the entire health care market. In determining the relevant market size, focus on the products or services that you will directly compete against.

  • It’s not just a research report – each fact, figure, and projection should support your company’s prospects for success.

  • Don’t ignore negative trends. Be sure to explain how your company would overcome potential negative trends. Such analysis will relieve investor concern and enhance the plan’s credibility.

  • Be prepared for due diligence. It’s critical that the data you present is verifiable, since any serious investor will conduct extensive due diligence.



Customer Analysis

Goal of customer analysis section: Convey the needs of your customers and show how your company’s products/services satisfy those needs.

  • Define your customers precisely. For example, it’s not adequate to say your company is targeting small businesses, since there are several million of these.

  • Detail their demographics. How many customers fit the definition? Where are these customers located? What is their average income?

  • Identify the needs of these customers. Use data to demonstrate past actions (X% have purchased a similar product), future projections (X% said they would purchase the product), and/or implications (X% use a product/service which your product enhances).

  • Explain what drives their decisions. For example, is price more important than quality?

  • Detail the decision-making process. For example, will the customer seek multiple bids? Will the customer consult others in their organization before making a decision?



Competitive Analysis

Goal of the competitive analysis section: Define the competition and demonstrate your competitive advantage.

  • List competitors. Many companies make the mistake of conveying that they have few or no real competitors. From an investor’s standpoint, a competitor is something that fulfills the same need as your product. If you claim you have no competitors, you are seriously undermining the credibility of your plan.

  • Include direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors serve the same target market with similar products. Indirect competitors serve the same target market with different products, or different target markets with similar products.

  • List public companies (when relevant, of course). A public company implies that the market size is big. This gives the assurance that if management executes well, the company has substantial profit and liquidity potential.

  • Don’t just list competitors. Carefully describe their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the key drivers of competitive differentiation in the marketplace. And when describing competitors’ weaknesses, be sure to use objective information (e.g. market research).

  • Demonstrate barriers to entry. In describing the competitive landscape, show how your business model creates competitive advantages, and – more importantly – defensible barriers to entry.


Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Marketing Plan

Goal of the marketing plan: Describe how your company will penetrate the market, deliver products/services, and retain customers.

  • Focus on the 4 P’s. They are: Products, Promotions, Price, and Place.

    • Products. Detail all current and future products and services – but focus primarily on the short-to-intermediate time horizon.

    • Promotions. Explain exactly which marketing/advertising strategies will be used and why.

    • Price. Be sure to provide a clear rationale for your pricing strategy.

    • Place. Explain exactly how your products/services will be delivered to your customers.

  • Detail your customer retention plan. Explain how you will retain your customers, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) applications, building network externalities, introducing ongoing value-added services, or other means.

  • Define your partnerships. From an investor’s perspective, what partnership you have with whom is not nearly as important as the specific terms of the partnership. Be sure to document the specifics of the partnerships (e.g. how it will work, the financial terms, the types of customer leads expected from each partner, etc.).



Operations Plan

Goal of the operations plan: Present the action plan for executing on your company’s vision.

  • Concept vs. reality. The operations plan transforms the business plan from concept into reality. Investors do not invest in concepts; they invest in reality. And the operations plan proves that the management team can execute on your concept better than anybody else.

  • Everyday processes. Detail the short term processes and systems that provide your customers with your products and services.

  • Business milestones. Lay out the significant long-term business milestones for the company, and prove that the team will execute on the long-term vision. A great way to present the milestones is to organize them into a chart with key milestones on the left side and target dates on the right side.

  • Be consistent. Make sure that the milestone projections are consistent with the rest of the business plan – particularly the financial plan.

  • Be aggressive but credible. Presenting a plan in which the company grows too quickly will show the naiveté of the management team, while presenting too conservative a growth plan will often fail to excite an early stage investor (who typically looks for a 10X return on her investment).


Financial Plan

Goal of the financial plan: Explain how your business will generate returns for your investors.

  • Detail all revenue streams. Be sure to include all revenue streams. Depending on the type of business, these may include sales of products/services, referral revenues, advertising sales, licensing/royalty fees, and/or data sales.

  • Be consistent with your pro-forma statements. Pro-forma statements are projected financial statements. It is critical that these projections reflect the other sections of your business plan.

  • Validate your assumptions and projections. The financial plan must detail your key assumptions, and it is critical that these assumptions are feasible. Be sure to use competitive research to validate your projections and assumptions versus the reality in your market place. Assessing and basing financial projections on those of similar firms will greatly validate the realism and maturity of the financial projections.

  • Detail the uses of funds. Understandably, investors want to know what, specifically, you plan to do with their money. Uses of funds could include expenses involved with marketing, staffing, technology development, office space, among other uses.

  • Provide a clear exit strategy. All investors are motivated by a clear picture of your exit strategy, or the timing and method through which they can “cash in” on their investment. Be sure to provide comparable examples of firms who have successfully exited. The most common exits are IPOs or acquisitions. And while the exact method is not always crucial, the investor wants to see this planning in order to better understand the management team’s motivation and commitment to building long-term value.

Get Growthink's Proven Venture Capital Business Plan Template Here

Above all, the business plan is a marketing document that helps to sell the investor on the business opportunity, the management team, the strategy, and the potential for significant return on investment.

Raising venture capital is a difficult and time-intensive challenge. There is no easy shortcut or silver bullet. However, you can greatly improve your chances of raising venture capital by writing a business plan that speaks directly to the investor’s perspective.

Ready to get started? Download Growthink's business plan template and finish your business plan today.

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About Growthink

Since 1999, Growthink's professional business plan writers and investment bankers have assisted more than 2,000 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.

Need help with your business plan?

Speak with a professional business plan writer today.

Raising money from individual "angel" investors?

Contact our private placement memorandum experts.

Or, if you're developing our own PPM, consider using Growthink's new private placement memorandum template.

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