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).

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Crowdfunding Offers 5 Hidden (and Powerful) Benefits


 

Crowdfunding Benefits

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

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

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

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

Let me give you an example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Market Research

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

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

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

2. Built-in Customer Base

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

3. Case Studies/Testimonials

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

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

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

4. Word of Mouth Marketing

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

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

5. PR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Access Crowdfunding for your business now!

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How to Get Funded in 90 Days or Less

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

Here’s how to do it right

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

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

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

Click here to watch the video and learn more now

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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).

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


 

7 Ways to Terrorize Your Competition


 

7 Ways to Terrorize Your Competition

One of my favorite movie lines, which I think about often, comes from the 1993 movie Rudy. In his pre-game inspirational talk in the film, Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine says, "No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around."

Yet, this happens all the time in our businesses.

We let competitors push us around. We let them steal our customers. We let them push our prices and margins down. And we let them dictate how we run our businesses.
 
So how do we stop this? How do we dictate how competitors need to act? And to go even further, how can we terrorize our competition so they don't even want to compete with us?

Here are 7 of my favorite ways:

1. Know More Than Them

By investing in the latest education, you will always have an edge on your competitors (assuming they don't also do this). Learning the best new techniques in sales, marketing, operations, finance, HR, etc. will allow you to outperform your competition on multiple fronts.

2. Create a Vision and Stick to It

Spend the time to create a solid vision of the company you want to create. For example, my vision at Growthink is to become the number one place where entrepreneurs go for assistance starting and growing their companies.

When you have a solid vision, you will not make knee-jerk reactions to your competitors' actions. Rather they will react to you. Also, while competitors' actions may cause you to shift your strategies, if you have a set vision, you will spend less time strategizing and more time executing.

3. Really Listen to Your Customers

One of my favorite quotes is from marketing expert Jay Abraham which goes, "Your customers are geniuses; they know exactly what they want."

By spending more time listening to the needs of your customers, you will create better products and services than your competitors.

4. Focus on Customer Retention

Focus more on retaining your customers than getting new ones. Studies have shown that it costs up to 7 times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. The profit is in retaining customers and selling them more things (that they need) over time.

Let your competitors fail to make profits, burn out, and go out of business by exclusively focusing on acquiring new customers.

5. Hire Right

As you grow your business, the less "doing" (e.g., building the product or providing the service to the customer) you will do and the more "managing" you will do. So your success will be put into the hands of those you hire. Spend the time to hire right and to train them well. And if you ever have the concern, "what happens if I train them and they leave?" then think the opposite, "What happens if you don't train them and they stay."

6. Create Systems

I heard the following acronym definition of "system" at a conference last week (yes, I am practicing what I preach and constantly invest in my own education).

The definition is:

Save
Your
Self
Time
Energy &
Money

Yes, systems may take time to develop. But once you've developed them, you will save time, energy and money on an ongoing basis.

7. Do Something Your Competition Would Have a Hard Time Duplicating

I know of one business that has an extremely rigorous client development process. Among other things, it consists of 6 months of pre-written emails sent to prospects twice per week, and weekly letters and packages sent to them in the mail. The process works extremely well, and not only would it take competitors 6 months to learn their systems, but creating a similar program would be a significant undertaking.

Other companies create a host of niche products that make it harder for a new competitor to enter their market. For example, if someone wanted to compete against Growthink with a capital raising product, it would be hard for them as we offer a product for raising angel capital, a product for raising venture capital, a product to get loans, a product to get grants, etc.

So, think about how you could create a company that your competitors can't replicate. In doing so, your competitors will be at a huge disadvantage. Also in doing so, you will become a great acquisition candidate for larger companies who realize it's easier to buy what you've developed than try to recreate it themselves.

8. (Bonus) Document Your Strategy in a Written Plan

There is countless research showing that those with written plans achieve significantly more success than those who don't.

See the featured resource below for help in quickly and easily creating a killer plan.

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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.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

Click here to create a "killer" plan today.

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Boost Accountability & Boost Results


 

Boost Accountability & Boost Results

Accountability has been a buzzword in the business world for some time. Unfortunately, most of us have a negative association with the word. We often use it as if it means blame and punishment, as in "Who is accountable for this mistake?" So we unconsciously try to avoid it.

The truth is that accountability is unavoidable. In the workplace, everyone is accountable to someone. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you are accountable to your business' success, and to your customers, investors, and employees.

Now, what if being accountable was empowering for you and your employees? Research indicates that rather than a negative force, holding people accountable for their actions and results has very positive effects on morale and performance.

For your employees, an environment of accountability produces vigilant problem-solving, better decision-making, and greater job satisfaction. With an environment of accountability, employees can develop their skills and be their best. It means a higher likelihood of reaching goals, which we all want.

For yourself, accountability is also key. Most of us worked for someone else in the past to whom we were accountable. But when we struck out on our own, and became the boss, we lost that. While many entrepreneurs and business owners are able to be accountable to themselves, it's often challenging. And for tasks that take a lot of discipline (e.g., calling 25 prospective investors every day), sometimes more accountability is needed to make sure they get done.

Here are some ways to boost accountability in your company:

  • Create accountability standards for yourself. What happens if you don't complete a task? Do you force yourself to stay late to do it? Or are there no immediate consequences? Figure out how to reward yourself for being fully accountable, and likewise give yourself some sort of penalty when you are not.

  • Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability; so your first step as the manager of your employees is to make sure they have very clearly defined roles, job descriptions, and duties.

  • Accountability is an attitude, so look at yourself as the role model. Are you being accountable to your employees, clients, and yourself? You as the leader will want to model this attitude, so focus on being accountable in addition to holding others accountable.

  • Do you have written expectations of your employees? Starting at the time of hire, if possible, create written expectations and standards of performance for each employee. You cannot expect something from someone who has not had the opportunity to buy into the expectation.

  • Do your employees have a working plan - a project timeline, an economic model etc? This will help keep them accountable.

  • Do your employees have training? You cannot hold someone accountable to something they are not been trained to do!

  • Have you created a learning based environment? Is it okay to make a mistake or say, "I don't know?" Creating a safe environment for mistakes encourages accountability. Employees will be less afraid to share mistakes and other negative feedback with you that can be used to correct the root of the problem. The opposite of this would be a culture of "yes men" (which you clearly don't want).

  • Are there real consequences for lack of accountability in your organization? Consequences work best when spelled out before actually needed, in expectations for example.

  • Do your employees have the talent and ability needed for the task? Some people will not have the ability to do the job you are asking them to do regardless of having a well-defined role, a great manager and excellent training. Try to find this out when hiring, but keep an eye on employees throughout their working time with you to confirm it.

Without accountability, no one knows the goal or who is supposed to do what. There's no way of knowing what's going on, so things don't get done (surprise, surprise). Without the right accountability, you will create an environment of low productivity and high turnover.

Conversely, setting up the right accountability structures, as discussed above, will create a culture in which goals are constantly attained. So make a plan today to implement the tips above. After all, if you don't emphasize and demonstrate the important of reaching the goals you set, who will?

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My #1 Tip for Super Fast Business Growth

What’s my best secret for accelerating your business growth?

It’s simple, actually: Get other people to build your business for you.

In other words, Build Your Dream Team <-- Click Here

Most entrepreneurs are making a big mistake: they’re trying to do everything themselves.

But that’s not a recipe for business success -- it’s a recipe for burnout, frustration and failure.

To build a truly successful business, you need a “Dream Team” to help you turn your vision into reality.

And I created this training to show you how to do it right.

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How to Raise Funding From Venture Capitalists


 

Raise-Funding-From-Venture-Capitalists


Venture capitalists (VCs), unlike angel investors, are professional investors that invest other people's money. Similar to angel investors, their goal is to earn a solid return on this money. In fact, VCs are judged and compensated by the performance of their investments. As a result, they are extremely rigorous in their investment decision-making process.

Here's how VCs earn returns for their investors:

1. Finding high growth companies
2. Making investments in them at favorable terms
3. Guiding and nurturing them
4. Enacting a liquidity event. This typically occurs by selling the company or taking it public.

VCs swing for the fences and only invest in companies they think can give them a "10X" return or 10 times their money back. This is because even with all their relevant experience, the average venture capital firm will lose money on half the companies they invest in and only break even on a third.  Where VCs make their money is on the approximately 20% of companies they invest in that see explosive growth and provide remarkable returns of 10 times or more on their investment.

So, the first criteria when seeking venture capital is that you can offer the potential of a 10X return to them.

The second criterion is that is your company must have significant market potential of $50 million, $100 million or more. Now, you might think that if a venture capitalist invested $100K in your company and got back $1 million (a 10X return) that they would be happy. This is not the case. This is because venture capitalists like to be "hands on" on their investments and help the companies they fund (called "portfolio companies"). And since each partner in the venture capital firm can only nurture so many portfolio companies, they want to invest in fewer companies, each of which can provide not only a 10X return, but a check of $50 million or more when it reaches liquidity.

To summarize, when approaching venture capitalists, remember the 3 hurdles:

1. Their primary goal is to make significant money from investing in you
2. You need to show them how they can earn a 10X return
3. You need to show them how your company can eventually be valued at $50 million or more

Now, if you meet these criteria, you should be a good fit for venture capital. But, raising this type of funding it is virtually impossible if you don't know what you're doing and haven't done it before. So follow this plan:

1. Develop a list of VC firms.

Start by creating a list of venture capital firms.

2. Narrow your list.


Each venture capital firm invests based on particular characteristics (e.g., some only invest in software firms), so you need to make sure your list only includes VCs that are interested in your type of venture.

3. Make sure the VC is active.


Many VC firms that have websites aren't active. That is, they aren't making new investments. You don't want to waste your time contacting and talking with these firms.

4. Find the appropriate person to contact.


This is critical. Venture capital firms are comprised of individual partners and associates. If you contact the wrong one, you'll be dead in the water.

5. Send the VC partner or associate a "teaser" email.

You don't want to send the VC a full business plan or executive summary initially. Rather, you need to send them a "teaser" email to see if they are interested. You don't want to "over shop" your deal.

Once the VC "bites" on your teaser email, the next step is generally to send them your business plan. Following that you'll do an in-person presentation(s), receive and negotiate a term sheet, and then sign a formal agreement and receive your funding check.

The venture capital raising process is a lot of work, but once you receive their multi-million check with which you can dramatically grow your company, you'll agree it's worth the effort.

 

Suggested Resource: In Venture Capital Pitch Formula, you'll learn exactly how to find and contact venture capitalists, exactly what information to include in your presentations, and how to secure your financing. This video explains more.

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How to Raise $1 Million or More

If you need millions of dollars in funding to build your business, you should raise venture capital.

Click here to discover the proven formula for raising venture capital funding.

When you click, you'll learn why the "old fashioned" way of raising venture capital is dead.

You'll learn why mastering the "T-Factor" is key to raising venture capital.

And you'll learn much more when you click here.

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Crowdfunding 101


 

Crowdfunding-101

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

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

What is Crowdfunding?


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

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

What are the 3 Core Types of Crowdfunding?

I have identified three core types of Crowdfunding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the Steps to Attaining Donation-Based Crowdfunding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

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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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8 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Business


 

Maximize-the-Value-of-Your-Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. They build relationships with customers

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

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

4. They make sure their businesses are stable

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

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

5. They maximize their revenues

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

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

6. They hold expenses accountable


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

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

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

7. They keep great records


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

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

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


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

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

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

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4 New Strategies For Your 2018 Marketing Plan


 

4 New Strategies For Your 2018 Marketing Plan

An effective marketing plan is necessary to grow your business. Among other things, the right marketing plan details your target customers, your unique selling proposition (USP), and your pricing strategy.

And importantly, your marketing plan covers the "channels" you will use to get new customers (known as your "promotions strategy"). These channels include, among others:

  • Billboards    
  • Blogs, Podcasts, etc.    
  • Card Decks    
  • Catalogs    
  • Celebrity Endorsements    
  • Classified Ads    
  • Contests    
  • Coupons    
  • Direct Mail    
  • Door Hangers    
  • Email Marketing    
  • Event Marketing    
  • Flyers    
  • Gift Certificates    
  • Networking    
  • Newsletters    
  • Newspaper/Magazine/Journal ads   
  • Online Marketing   
  • Postcards    
  • Press Releases/PR   
  • Radio ads/TV ads/Infomercials    
  • Seminars /Teleseminars / Webinars    
  • Telemarketing    
  • Trade Shows   
  • Value-Paks    
  • Voice Broadcasts    
  • Word of Mouth / Viral Marketing    
  • Yellow Pages   

While most of these channels require advertising dollars, there are some additional strategies you can employ that are low or no cost. Four such strategies are detailed below.

1. Get To Know Your Competitors

Regardless of what you're selling or the services you provide, you must know how your competitors are doing it. Why? Simple. Because you want to do it better-or at least not get left behind!

Visit their brick and mortar stores to see what they are doing differently this year. And/or take a real close look at their websites and blogs to see what they're doing and the customers they're serving.

Sneaky Tip:
When visiting a competitor's blog, make sure to leave high-quality comments on a number of posts. By doing this, you can also mention your website directly or perhaps just indirectly through the Name and Website fields (they turn into a link when your comment is posted).

Once your comment is approved, everyone who sees your comment will be able to click on your link and visit your website.

2. Create Some YouTube Videos

I recently met with representatives from Google who presented some very interesting information to me. Including the fact that more and more consumers and businesses are relying on video in their decision-making process.

Specifically, more and more people are searching YouTube for videos when thinking about making a purchase. And they showed me specific research stating that "1 in 3 small businesses purchased a product or service as a result of watching the related video."

Which means that you need to create videos.

Importantly, these videos can also bring you a flood of new customers.

Here's an example. I created a video a few years ago entitled "How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan." On YouTube alone it's now been viewed over 58,000 times. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLAZpFKRgUg

Once again, I haven't shared this video 58,000 times. Rather, people are finding it by searching Google, searching YouTube, social sharing, etc.

3. Use An Effective LOCAL Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy

An effective search engine optimization strategy will get your website on a top position in the search results pages of all the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

While ranking at the top of the search engines on generic phrases (like "business plan") is hard, ranking on these phrases locally is a lot easier.

Essentially, all you need to do is choose the keyword or phrase that best describes your business, add your city or area name, and use it in texts that you post on your website (e.g., Business Plan Development Chicago IL).

Your keyword or phrase should appear in the URL of your website and it has to show up in its meta description tag. For example, even though we don't have an office in Chicago, IL, this page on the Growthink website ranks near the top of Google's results for searches on "Business Plan Development Chicago IL" - http://www.growthink.com/businessplan/help-center/chicago-illinois-business-plan-writers

4. Write Newsletters And Send Them To Your Contacts

Keeping in touch with your customers is critical if you want your business to blossom. Information is crucial nowadays. Therefore, make sure that you keep your customers informed with regard to your products and services.

Some businesses do it with a print newsletter, which is fine if the business you generate is worth the costs. But an email newsletter is a much less expensive and time-consuming way to start.

Invite people to subscribe by offering a small discount or freebie, if they are willing to provide their e-mail address. After that, any message you send them is free advertising!

This does not mean that you will have to send a weekly newsletter-they might not be that interested. Instead, write a newsletter with the sole purpose of informing your customers about new products you are adding to your current offer.

Make sure that you mention discounts and advantages. Send these newsletters weekly or monthly at first (but it is better to under promise and over deliver). This will show your customers that your business is serious and it will help create a long-lasting relationship with your clientele.

In conclusion, add these 4 strategies to your 2018 marketing plan, and start rapidly growing your business.

 

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