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.


 

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.


 

Using Systems to Grow Your Business


 



In many franchise businesses you can see the same hamburger or service turn out the same carefully-designed way, regardless of location or the employees doing the work.

The reason why these often big businesses are able to perform an operation consistently and at a massive scale is because they use and follow systems and work processes. This means that they do the right things, in the right way.

Why Small Companies Can't Handle Growth

Unfortunately, most small businesses and entrepreneurs do the opposite. That is, they fail to create systems and business processes that coordinate routine work in a standardized way. Their style of small business management pretty much boils down to just asking their employees to come on time, and then to watch them and hope their products and services are promoted and fulfilled correctly.

Well, what does "correctly" even mean?

This is a mistake that happens all the time; most entrepreneurs think they don't need to set systems and work processes, or that it has to be done all at once in some monumental undertaking to make an employee handbook as thick as McDonald's.

Because the average small business operates with less than a few dozen employees, their managers generally believe (incorrectly) that since the business only has few people, creating and applying business systems would be a waste of time and money.

It's like saying that you don't need a system to organize your CD collection because you only have a few CDs at present. This might work in the beginning, but the problem comes when it's time for the business to grow. Then you may have 10 times the work going on, and things get chaotic. Quality goes down, morale goes down...it's a confusing mess!

Same goes for when your business has to change employees (even satisfied employees change jobs, move, or otherwise stop working for you). With no systems in place, the new employee will have a tough time doing the task correctly because "correctly" has not been defined for them or demonstrated.

The Process Determines the Results

Another reason why small businesses often lack proper processes is because their management only cares about results, rather than the processes that created them. They don't care how their employees get the job done, as long as the finished burger meets the standards.

Of course we should all be results-oriented. But sometimes having your team do something a specific way will lead to better results, higher quality, faster work, less waste, etc. In these cases, you definitely want to spell out the process for them.

When buying hamburgers from a franchise, for example, people expect it to be perfect or to at least be identical to the previous ones that the burger joint sold. If you didn't have a system or a process for making burgers (how long to freeze, how long to cook, what the toppings are and in what order to stack them, etc.) then keeping the quality up to your standards would be tough. One employee would do it one way; another employee would do it another. You would not get consistent results.

How a Systems-Run Business Looks

We've covered the disadvantages of not having small business management systems and processes, but now let's delve into what may actually happen when you do have them.

When talking about the advantages, we just have to reverse the scenarios we talked about earlier.

Imagine a business with only a handful of employees. But also imagine them following a system and doing what they were supposed to do, and doing it the right way. Costs would go down. Product and service quality would go up. Profits would soar. And your business would be simple to run. As a result, you would spend your time growing vs. simply operating your business. And tons of other businesses would want to purchase yours for a big premium.

Now imagine one employee quitting for whatever reason. The new employee wouldn't have a problem taking the old employee's place; because there would be a process to follow that everyone knows. It would have become the way you do it here.

Now that you know that systems and business processes are important, how do actually create them?

Make A Few Simple Systems Of Your Own

To create systems, it is best that you start looking at the business processes that take place in your business. Make a quick list of everything your business does, from accounting to sales.

Once you have a list, take one at a time (in order of impact to your business; the most potential impact first) and start writing down a simple checklist of actions that make it happen. Start with the beginning of the process (e.g., customer places order), then imagine the ideal outcome (customer receives perfect result), and then write down each step that should occur in between. Then write in who is responsible to do what, and estimate the costs of each step in hours and dollars. You should then have in one hand a brief write-up of how to perform the system and what it will take to do so.

Once you've designed your system, test it out once or twice before officially implementing it. Make sure your systems and processes do what they are supposed to do and nothing short of that. Perform the work yourself or watch someone closely, and pay attention to every step.

Whether it's from not knowing about systems or not making the time for it, most small business managers do not make and improve their business processes over time. But that's manager's main job -- to keep the right people running the right systems, so the company's desired results can be achieved.

If the system doesn't work...change it. If an employee will not or cannot work the system...change employees. Because once you systematize your business, it will run smoothly and it will run itself. You can then focus your efforts on growing the business, and reap the rewards of a fully systematized company.

If you want to learn more about systematizing your business, read below.

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The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you’ll see the important schematic below:

Don’t be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it’ll make perfect sense. And you’ll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now

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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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Business Exit Strategy: Preparing to Sell A Business


 

As every entrepreneur knows, a great business plan is essential for effectively launching a business.  As the business grows, an effective strategic plan is required to successfully reach the business’s full potential.

But what about planning your exit strategy? 

Far too many business owners do not realize that careful strategic planning to sell your business is just as important as planning to launch and grow your business.

In addition to an independent lifestyle and personal fulfillment, a successful exit is the primary motivator for business ownership and entrepreneurship. 

(Not to mention that a successful exit tends to improve one’s lifestyle and personal fulfillment...)

Because acquisition is the most common exit for an entrepreneur / business owner, here are some tips to better prepare you to sell your business.


Don’t Wait Too Long To Sell

Many business owners wait until the last minute to try and sell their business. They wait until the business is stagnating, or they are exhausted with running the business. In fact, the best time to sell is when business is booming.


But Take Your Time – Don’t Be in Too Much of a Hurry

If you are in too much of a hurry to sell, you will probably leave a lot of money on the table. Buyers – especially sophisticated larger corporations – will likely sense your urgency and will take advantage of it in the negotiation period.


Start the Process Early

It’s a good idea to begin preparing 2-4 years BEFORE the sale. It’s much more expensive and time-consuming to rush and prepare all of the necessary financial and other information in a few months than it is to consistently record and compile records over a period of years. This record-keeping is also important for your business’s growth, since it provides more perspective on your company’s performance.


Get Your House in Order

Make sure that you have been keeping accurate financial records and that your assets are ready for sale.  This includes both tangible assets such as equipment and inventory, as well as intangible assets such as contracts, leases, patents, trademarks, etc.  Make sure that everything is assignable to the buyer and be prepared for extensive due diligence.


Try to See It From the Buyer’s Point of View

A buyer’s motivations are often different than the typical business owner’s. While the entrepreneurial business owner may get excited about innovation and creative strategies, the buyer cares much more about the potential for stable revenue streams and growth potential.  Take time to understand your potential buyer’s point of view, interests, and motivations.


Make Yourself Less Central to the Business’s Success

The buyer wants to buy a business – not you or your job.  From the buyer’s perspective, it’s better if the current owner is not important to the success of the business.  Therefore, in planning for the sale of your business, you should begin training your management team to take over critical business functions.  If all of the key decisions revolve around you (the owner), then the value of the company will be limited without the owner – and therefore, the business is less attractive to a buyer.


Meanwhile, Keep Focused on Running (and Growing) Your Business

When starting the sales process, you must keep a laser-sharp focus on your business’s operations.  It’s important that you do not get too wrapped up in either the sales process or in the romance of any particular sale offer.  As difficult as this is, it’s best to act as if any deal can fall through, even if you are in the final negotiation period, because any deal can come unraveled at the last moment.  Keep your focus on growing your business until the check has cleared and is in the bank. 

In addition, you should do your best to keep the sales process confidential so that you do not endanger relationships with any key clients, employees, or partners whose departure could threaten a transaction or the operations of your business.


Get Professional Assistance

If you are a business owner seeking to sell your business, you can benefit from outside advice and assistance.  As the old saying goes, “The attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.”  The same applies for a business owner selling without an advisor.  Your advisor will provide you with guidance regarding valuation, due diligence, and the marketing of your business opportunity.  Without a competent advisor, you decrease your chances of selling your business at its maximum price.


Even if a Deal Comes, Be Prepared to Say No

If you have invested a lot of time and energy into the search, negotiation, and due diligence phases, you may be reluctant to reject any deal that comes across the table. However, just because you have a deal in front of you, you do not have to take it.  If the price is not attractive or if the deal is not right for another reason – and it cannot be mended – you may be wise to walk away and consider the next opportunity.

Sometimes, during the process of preparing their business for sale, business owners will find themselves at the helm of a much more profitable, attractive business.  If you have a profitable business, keep in mind that you have other options at your disposable.  In addition to selling your business, you can continue to grow organically, raise growth capital, and/or explore strategic partnerships. 

It’s important to continually evaluate your options throughout all phases of business growth to ensure that you are making the best decisions for the long term.

 

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About Growthink

Founded in 1999, Growthink is a leading middle market investment bank.  Our professional investment bankers have assisted clients in raising more than $1 billion in growth financing, as well as advising on mergers and acquisitions transactions.

 

Need assistance with your business exit strategy? 

 

Looking to sell your business?
 

  • We have considerable experience advising middle market business owners on the sale of their businesses. Contact Growthink's investment bankers today.

 


 

Entrepreneurs Don't Plan To Fail, They Fail To Plan


 

Entrepreneurs Don't Plan To Fail They Fail To Plan

I periodically read research reports about business failures. I always find them interesting, although often they are depressing.

Such as what I recently read. Which was research from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  This research found that 70% to 80% of new businesses fail within their first year.

And while this was frustrating enough to read, the research further stated that half of those companies which do survive the first year will fail within the next four years.

Now, let's turn to the cause of this failure. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the number one cause of this failure is lack of business planning.

What this essentially means is this: entrepreneurs and business owners don't plan to fail; rather, they fail to plan (which causes them to fail).

In my view, there are two types of business plans. The first is the business plan you must create when you start your company. The purpose of this plan is to ensure you have fully thought through your venture.

Among other things, this plan includes significant market research. It assesses your market size to ensure the opportunity is big enough. It analyzes customer segments to confirm that customer needs match your company's proposed product and/or service offerings. And it analyzes the competition to determine how your company will position itself and how you will most effectively compete.

From a strategic standpoint, the business plan must document your marketing plan (how you will secure customers), your human resources plan (who you will hire) and your operations plan (what key milestones you will accomplish and when).

When you're done, your business plan will confirm your market opportunity and give you a roadmap to follow. It will also be required should you wish to gain funding from investors and lenders.

Now, once your business is up-and-running, you still need a business plan in order to succeed. I refer to this type of business plan as a "strategic plan." I term it as such because this type of plan requires much less research (since you already know who your customers are, the market fundamentals, and lots of information about your competitors). Rather, the focus of this plan is strategy.

Specifically, this plan needs to identify precisely:

1. Where you want your company to be in five years

2. What you need to accomplish within the next year to progress you to that point, and

3. What your strategy is to complete your key milestones in the next 12 months

In determining the optimal strategies, you need to consider your company's strengths, and opportunities that can best leverage them. If you don't take time to do this, you become too tactical. That is, you continue to use the same tactics that have gotten you to the point you are at. And oftentimes, the strategy and tactics that got you where you are today are NOT the strategy and tactics that will get you to the next level.

So, spend time figuring out the best strategies to follow. The good news is that you've already proven you can execute on strategies (which is what got you to where you are now).

After you figure out the big picture opportunities to go after (which often fall into the categories of further penetrating your existing market, going after a new market, or creating new products/services for existing and/or new markets), you need to revisit the three core strategies you developed in your initial business plan.

To start, you need to modify your marketing plan. Importantly, your marketing plan should always be adding new marketing channels (e.g., direct mail, print, radio, search engine optimization, etc.) as the more channels you have, the more customers you will get and the less risk you have of one channel losing effectiveness (think about businesses who used to get all their customers from the yellow pages).

Next, consider your human resources strategy. What new people will you need to hire to accomplish your key goals in the coming years? And finally, you need to develop your operations strategy. Figure out what key tasks and milestones you need to accomplish over the next year and break them down into smaller projects that you and your team must accomplish. And then create a master schedule showing who, how and when these projects will be completed (I like using a Gantt chart to do this).

To achieve maximum success in your business, create a business plan when you start your company, and annually create a strategic plan to grow your company.

The planning process will force you to focus on accomplishing the right things in your business. Since even if you execute flawlessly, if you are executing on the wrong strategies and opportunities, success will elude you.

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Do You Have A “Killer” Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

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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.


 

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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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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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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The book covers my favorite topic…

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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.

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