Category: Entrepreneur


5 Common Entrepreneur Mistakes

May 14, 2018

Entrepreneur

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What Not to Do

It takes time and money to start a new business. Entrepreneurs work hard to get customer or prospects. And given the amount of work and money that is spent getting visitors to your company storefront or web site, it is amazing how difficult it is to keep visitors on site. In fact, studies show that visitors give you less than 10 seconds for them to decide whether to stay on your web site, explore and (hopefully) buy or perform the most desired action (MDA), like opting in for a free newsletter. Yet, many site owners and entrepreneurs – especially site owners who design their own sites – throw a number of stumbling blocks in the path of the visitor on the way to performing the MDA. And what is worse, many entrepreneurs make these common mistakes, which can actually prevent their businesses from succeeding.

Here are some rules to follow if you DO NOT want your new business to be successful.

Avoid these entrepreneur mistakes.

1. Growing too quickly.

Growing too quickly can be just as dangerous for a new business as moving too slowly. Expansion should only be done to meet the demand of the product, not simply for the sake of growth. It takes time, resources, and more, to develop a new brand or location, which takes away from the successful existing ones. For this reason, it is very important not to grow too quickly.

At times it is much better for the small business just to sit back and build up their capital, instead of borrowing money to try to grow too quickly. The rule should be quality over quantity… always. Make sure you provide the best possible service or product for your existing customers, and can do so for new ones before expanding.

2. Not staying ahead of the competition.

This should be right on the top of your list of things to do. If you don’t blaze the trail, then you are simply following others. One of the issues which can really hurt your business is not taking notice when a close competitor makes an announcement or launches a new product. If competition has a policy that makes it more convenient for your customers to do business with them instead of you, take notice. Always pay attention to the market and make adjustments to your business model. One of the benefits of being a small business owner is having the ability to easily adjust to new market conditions. Do not lose touch of that advantage because it could cost your business in terms of sales.

3. Not being careful with whom your hire.

Small business owners need to be very careful whom they hire and employ. Each person working for your business should benefit you in some way. Character and a willingness to work hard are sometimes more important than education, experience, or even pay scale. More often that not, the employees who have degrees and experience will slack off, feeling that they no longer have to work as hard. Pay very close attention to the new guy or girl at the bottom your organization.

4. Not realizing that working hard is a benefit.

Many business owners think that if they go into business for themselves, they can hire people to put in the forty hours a week and then they themselves can just take it easy and let the business run itself. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. The majority of successful business owners actually work more hours than their employees, and do much more because if the person at the top slacks off, the entire organization will slack off.

5. Not maintaining an interesting web site.

More often than not, a well-designed and correctly developed web sites is just that — well designed and correctly developed. But the content does not change. Visitors to your web site are there for one major reason — because you have interesting content. So, remember, that an online entrepreneur always has to provide users with interesting and helpful information on a blog. Also, keep in mind that content of a blog should be updated regularly. Provide users with interesting posts, contests and polls on a consistent basis. The main task of an entrepreneur is to return users back to his blog again and again.

What about your business website needs? Website hosting firms that are professional, experienced and low-cost are not easy to find. The low-cost part is, but professional as in “green hosting” is not something that is really easy to find. Yes, there are many web hosts that pretend to be green. But be sure to check their resume before selecting them as your online partner.

It takes time, effort and marketing dollars to get visitors to your web site, to build a brand, and develop a successful small business. Don’t scare away prospects by making design goofs.

Networking at Live Events

May 14, 2018

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Going to live events where your coaches or mentors are giving talks, seminars, courses, or workshops are great places to meet other like-minded individuals who might be potential clients.

I try to go to one live event each year, and I have always found enough leads who were also attending the event that became clients of mine.

The income from those clients more than paid for the investment in traveling and attending the live event.

One way to find events is to get on the mailing lists of the influencers in your industry. Pick ones who have an agenda that will also be beneficial and interesting to you.

You can also Google event calendars for events in your area or other locations that you would like to travel to.

Of course, it will be twice as good if you pick an event where you will be learning something of value for your own business. Then you’ll essentially be killing two birds with one stone—more knowledge for your business and more leads for your business.

Be sure to take lots of business cards but also have a way to track who you speak with so you can follow up with them after the event.

Lastly, be sure to do your follow up right after the event so people remember who you are.

Tips

Many coaches ask me, “Where can I find qualified leads offline?” Here are some tips:

  • Networking Meetings such as BNI, Meet-Up, local entrepreneur groups, Toastmasters, and your local Chamber of Commerce
  • Meetings for International Coaching Federation (ICF) have chapters in all major cities
  • Live events – look for ones that are targeted to your target market
  • Local support groups that are for your ideal client’s issues and concerns
  • Have a booth at a local job expo, business exhibition, or other event that draws your ideal prospect
  • Start your own local support or business group and invite the community or send individual invitations to people you know who may qualify as a prospect

New Networking Paradigm

Networking is an opportunity to find people who are in sync with you. But it’s about building relationships, not just getting sales. There is a new trend in networking that you should be aware of. The old paradigm was “How can I get their attention? How can I find a new prospect?” The new paradigm is “What does this person want or need? How can I be of service to them? How can I solve their problem?”

Managing Working Capital Effectively

May 14, 2018

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Managing working capital effectively is an essential business discipline, regardless of the stage of business’ life-cycle you have reached. During a start-up or growth phase, many businesses grow rapidly, run out of cash and fail. They simply do not keep pace with the business’ increasing cash needs. Established businesses must also pay close attention to cash flow and maintain adequate working capital to pay suppliers and expenses as they fall due.

In my experience, business owners often overlook two essential questions when addressing their working capital needs. Firstly, how much they require and secondly, how they will finance or fund it. Determining your business’ “cash conversion cycle” is often a good indicator of your working capital needs. It’s determined by calculating how quickly your business converts its purchases (materials, inventory, etc) into cash received from customer sales.

Managing Working Capital Effectively

You can use other working capital ratios or measures to review working capital needs. Ratios such as inventory turnover, creditor days, and debtor days can be used to help identify potential concerns or trends. Regularly reviewing them will help you prevent inadequate liquidity and cash flow and enable you to take proactive action before it’s too late.

Adopting “better business practice” will help you manage cash receipts from debtors (also known as “accounts receivables”). Providing easy payment methods, developing and adhering to credit policies, and following up on late payments will all help. However, you’ll need to consider any possible negative effect these may have on your customers. For example, customers may go elsewhere if your credit terms are unfavourable to them.

Paying close attention to paying your suppliers and expenses (“accounts payables”) is equally as important. Pay invoices when they are due (rather than paying early); check invoices for accuracy, negotiate credit terms, and utilising any prompt payment discounts will all help. Remember that in doing so you’ll need to ensure that your suppliers continue to supply you with materials, utilities, etc.

Economic Order Quantity

For many business, an important area of good working capital management is in managing inventory. Determining optimum stock levels and the ideal time to re-order inventory will help preserve cash. The “Economic Order Quantity” (EOQ) calculation will help you to determine how much inventory you need. It will help you to balance “holding costs” (warehousing space, etc) with costs associated with ordering stock (“delivery charges, etc). EOQ will also help prevent you running out of inventory by determining “safety levels”.

Irrespective of whether your business is a start-up or not, managing working capital effectively will be vital to your success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Chakra Partners, an internationally recognised finance & accounting outsourced company.

He advises executives & small business entrepreneurs on complex challenges including strategy, risk management, managing shared-service centres, operations and how to run successful businesses. He combines his natural enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge with his proven ability to provide practical down-to-earth solutions for clients. He’s written several eBooks and regularly writes business articles.

Business Mind

May 14, 2018

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The world is managed by business minds from the north pole to the south pole, the world superpowers to the world minnows. This goes to say that the world runs on a business wheel.

The business world is under revolution since many individuals are running into it and turning the heads from all corners. Look at the boardrooms deals going down and even the black market deals are also made. The turn out in the business industry is becoming overwhelming all the way from United States of America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia.

Since time in memorial, business has been the pillar of all activities in the day-to-day life. People from all walks of life are trading in all sort of items with the aim of making profits and spurring more innovations and inventions in the business.

Why do you engage in business?

As an individual, you engage in business to provide solutions to identified problems in the market. This ranges from supplying of goods to the provision of services and this runs across the whole world.

Small, medium and big enterprises compete for the space in the business industry, each being unique with its operations.

1. Reason for business is to acquire what we don’t possess.

2. We aim to promote peace and co-existence between the individuals engaging in business.

3. Business helps to open up other parts of the world since individuals will travel to each corner to acquire what they require, for instance, an African trader will travel to Japan to get their tools of the trade.

4. Business brings about more innovations and inventions to the existing population, that’s why every day new things come up or there is an improvement in the ones that already exist. This can be seen in the technology sector which changes rapidly.

5. We engage in business due to the nature of our entrepreneurial spirit as human beings.

6. We engage in business to make profits on our trade hence improve our life and social status.

A business mind means ideas organized in a system that operates in correlation with other systems in order to make things work in the industry.

The characteristics of being a business minded individual.

1. Open-minded, an individual must be open to new ideas and formulas in the world of business.

2. Confidence is an ingredient of being business minded since this leads to better interaction with other people in the same industry.

3. Being competitive, a business minded individual will always look for ways to stay ahead of the pack in the industry.

4. Creativity must be exhibited in the individual since this will set individuals apart and create a niche for them in their specified field.

5. Determination, a business minded individual must be determined to walk the journey of business and try all new ways in order to survive in the industry.

6. Passion should play a part in the individual since this will show up in the business. An individual must be passionate about his/her undertaking.

Business thrives when there is information on all the sectors, more so information is power. This helps individuals make up their mind in all that they want to undertake.

In all the places you shall find books written to address this industry, the strong points and the weak links, success stories and failures by individuals who swim in the ocean of business.

In the world of business, risks are defined according to the returns in the undertaken adventure of business. The individuals must now take sides in the business industry and decide.

Lending Benefits of Business Incubators

May 14, 2018

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If you are looking to a start a business or have been in business and are looking to expand there are all types of funding options available. To name a few methods of funding there is bootstrapping, friends, family, Angel Investors, Venture Capitals, IPO’s, bank loans, SBA grants and Business Incubators. Many entrepreneurs face this important task and challenge of trying to find what works best for them and the business. Out of all the financial funding sources listed above, the main focus of this article will be on Business Incubators.

Business incubators are organizations geared to helping start-up and existing business. A business incubator can offer capital, offers advice, provides services, and space for clients looking to start a small business or needs help to expand an existing business. Usually, a business incubator is used to accelerate business growth and strengthen locally owned businesses. Essential features may include assistance with rental space, computer labs, capital, advice, and support services.

Sectors that can benefit from an Incubator are construction, manufacturing, information technology, professional, scientific, technical, management of companies and enterprises, arts, entertainment, recreation, biotechnology and other services. There is a network of entrepreneurs and linkages to economic development resources. Having a network of entrepreneurs, community planning and development teams, Chamber of Commerce, local universities and community colleges, and other local sources like SBTDC and SBA’s housed at one central location can be beneficial to entrepreneurs.

Being able to go to a physical location that is a business incubator offers entrepreneurial needs and benefits, plus it can have additional resources such as a desk, computer lab, meeting spaces, a break room with coffee and snack machines. The business incubator offers entrepreneurs with a rental office space without having to invest rent or leasing space. They can provide a desk, conference room, classroom, a private desk or office for a monthly or weekly fee. Having these options available plus having the tools near them start their business up can help save on overhead cost.

Although business incubators usually have standard monthly rates and additional charges to have a working space private or social meeting areas. These costs are minimal compared to having to purchase all the office equipment and rental space to start a business that may not need a storefront right away. Other necessities incubators assist with are making business decisions that can help an entrepreneur when they are making life considerations to what type of industry they are thinking about starting and if they are ready to take the leap. They can also help in financial projections, help develop a marketing plan, offer printer, copier and fax resources, help promote your business with networking and social media tools, provide training to help get your business website up and running, also help you find legal business attorneys, business insurance, business and commercial lending services, and certified accounting professionals (CPA’s).

5 Ways To Make Your Business Work Harder for You and Your Family

May 14, 2018

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Many business owners are working so hard at their business that they fail to enjoy the rewards of being the business owner. If you are letting the life of your business overrule the business of living your life, then it is time to begin turning the tides.

Finding ways to make your business work harder for you and your family is the reason we all started our businesses in the first place. If your business is obstructing your efforts to enjoy life with friends and family, this is a problem. We all know a lot of work goes into building a successful business, but if it is consuming all your time, effort and energy… is it worth it?

Why this coordination is important:

Every time you find new ways to help your family benefit from the efforts of your business, your life balance and family life improves.

If your business consumes your entire life and your family life suffers because of it, your spouse and children may actually resent the time that you spend there. Even if it provides a great deal of income, the value of family and social life may be sacrificed.

Make your business help you, your family and your social life. You will be happier, healthier and live a longer more rewarding life.

5 Ways To Consider:

Consider paying children’s education expenses as wages for work

Many small business owners make a good living and have higher than average incomes. This can cause their family to qualify for little to no college financial aid when their children are ready to attend college.

If you are going to have to pay for it anyway, why not pay your children to help out at your small business. Pay them as an employee, contractor or consultant to do work for you and your business.

If you pay them enough to cover their college costs, you will receive a tax deduction for the cost of their college education by deducting their income from your business. They will be responsible for helping out with your business and they may surprise you with how much value they add to the business. New ideas, new technology, a new and different viewpoint might be just what your business needs.

Schedule family vacations around business travel

When a family vacation is something you’re considering, think about coordinating it around a work trip. Do you need to go to conventions, trade shows, seminars or other training for work? If you drive to go to those business activities, your gas mileage is tax-deductible regardless of how many individuals you have in the car with you. Does this conference or training trip require you to stay in a hotel? Your hotel expenses for that night can also be deductible regardless of whether you have your family with you in the room.

Scheduling family vacations around business travel can help make it more manageable. This allows you to enjoy time with your family or friends while also working on your business. Consult with your spouse or family to coordinate the two.

Manage taxable income and year-end purchases to lower tax bracket

Operating and owning a business requires seeing the big picture and planning for the future. Your business will likely need new or updated equipment, computers, other technologies etc. to operate smoothly and efficiently. Be able to forecast these needs.

Here is where you coordinate your tax situation with these needs. If you know you are in need of new equipment, computers, etc. in the near future, look at your taxes. If you are looking at a higher tax bracket for the year you may want to make these necessary equipment purchases sooner than expected. Or you may want to wait until next year. This requires consulting with your business advisor to determine the best option.

Use Retirement Plans

Consider reducing your current income by using a Retirement Plan. Not only will this help you once again for tax purposes, but it’s also helping you and your families future. So many small business owners neglect to put retirement needs on their priority list. Often we hear “my business is my retirement plan.” Putting all of your eggs into one basket can be extremely risky and even dangerous for your future.

You may want to consider adjusting your salary in order to account for contributing to a retirement plan. There are many ways to rearrange things to make it possible to contribute. The tax savings alone can help justify the redirecting of your income into a retirement plan. Be sure to look at all of the different options and scenarios as this will provide further clarity.

Also if you choose to offer your employees a retirement plan, this will help attract quality employees, retain them and allow for an additional tax savings for any company match. You may even be able to take a few days off without worrying about the business functioning without you! Think of how that would allow you more family time. Consult with your financial advisor to clarify your options and the benefits to you, your business and your family.

Consider adding or using a home office arrangement

There are many benefits of utilizing a home office arrangement for you, your business and especially your family. If you’re currently renting or paying for office space it may be feasible to create or use an office space at home. With technology today, working out of the house has become much more functional.

If you’re solely stationed out of your home, this provides for another tax benefit. You are able to write off the portion of your mortgage that accounts for the square footage of your home office. Also any improvement expenses, internet expenses, utility expenses or taxes that are directly related to your home office may also be deductions. Finding ways to cut taxes is crucial for a small business owner.

If your line of work makes it unable to be based completely out of your house, even just working a day or two from home will allow you to spend more time around your family and add some flexibility to your work schedule.

5 Tips To Find Funding For Your Startup

May 14, 2018

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Today, business owners have a lot of ideas. They know how to implement those ideas to get their business going. However, the problem is that starting a fresh business requires a good deal of money. And finding investors and getting loans is no easy job. Given below are a couple of tips to help you get funding for your startup.

Consider Your Niche

If your idea has something special, you may find it easier to get funding. As a matter of fact, there are grants that are given to specific business ideas only. So, if you have a solid idea, you may find it easier to apply for a grant.

You can also gain another benefit if you define your niche. As you apply for funding, make sure you summarize your niche in a few words. This will help you set your business apart from your competition.

Look For a Grant

As far as looking for funding goes, the best thing is a grant. You can get money free of charge and this money can lift your business. The fact of the matter is that locating and getting the grant is a hard nut to crack. But if you don’t try, you won’t be able to get the required money.

Actually, grants are based on the demographics and the business theme. For instance, grants are given for women, minority business owners and so on. So, if you want to apply, all you have to do is clean your keyboard and begin typing.

Go For a Contest

Entering a contest is another way of getting funds for your business. For instance, the Amazon Web Services Start-up Challenges offers rewards on an annual basis. In the same way, MIT also offers a considerable amount of rewards.

If you want to increase your chances of getting success in these contests, we suggest that you look for ways to make yourself more prominent.

Crowdfund Your Idea

If you want to get funds for your startup, we suggest that you check out sites, such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Over the past few years, Crowdfunding has increased in popularity and has got immense attention from businesses as well as investors. And this popularity has resulted in an increase in competition. So, if you can make your business stand out from the crowd, you can achieve success and beat the competition.

Take a Loan

If you have a small business to run, you can apply for a loan. You can choose from different specialized options, such as loans and microloans. If you don’t want to get a bank loan, this option is an ideal one.

But if you have made your mind to get a bank loan, you may want to have the maximum amount of details about your business. In other words, you have to let the provider know how you will pay the loan back. Ideally, it’s a good idea to try a community-based bank first.

It does not take a rocket scientist to get a grant for your business. All you have to do is come up with a solid plan and hone your pitch. This will increase your odds of getting success.

Your Authentic Leadership Can Change Things For the Better

May 14, 2018

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There’s been so much written about leadership in general, and more recently, about entrepreneurial leadership in particular. Lists abound of the characteristics of entrepreneurial leaders, like the ability to be creative, to inspire, to manage risk, to be adaptable.

All good stuff, right? Each of those things will help you to grow your company, to increase profits. An essential goal for the viability of your business.

To grow as a leader, it’s worthwhile to look at how you can expand your capabilities in each of those areas.

What those characteristics of entrepreneurial leadership won’t do is to ensure that you have the impact you want to have. They won’t ensure that you change things for the better.

You can do that. Change things for the better.

You do that by focusing on the impact you want to have, the positive contribution you want to make.

One of the things that great leaders do is to help people tap into something greater than themselves. In your case, it’s your impact vision that will help bring something in your company to life that will energize, motivate, and inspire.

A vision for how things could be better.

Not just you, but everyone connected with the company too can be moved to action by your vision.

That impact vision comes from within you. It’s that authenticity that people recognize and feel.

So for more impact, consider your leadership. Share your impact vision with your team. Share relevant aspects with your clients. Include it in your marketing.

Be a better, more authentic leader by letting people know the bigger picture, your vision for impact. When you focus on that and let people know that it’s your focus, you can gain valuable allies and your leadership will change things for the better.

49 Startup Pitch Mistakes to Avoid

May 14, 2018

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Mistakes in the pitch deck

1. Unrealistic growth projections

Founders know that any financial projection for early stage companies does not makes sense. There are too many variables, which make the projection inaccurate 99% of the time. However, this projection helps investors understand how you think about your business and what are the assumptions that need to hold true for you to grow fast. If you project a revenue growth that is completely out of sync with other startups in the industry, unless substantiated, it brings out a lack of understanding of the space.

2. Unreasonable TAM

It is important to understand the difference between the Market Size and the Total Addressable Market. Investors are reasonably aware whether a market is large enough or not. If you present a TAM that is unreasonable for the industry, it can boomerang and bring out a lack of understanding of the space.

3. Top down approach to market sizing

Assume that, as per Nielsen, ‘deliver breakfast in the office’ is worth $100mn in India. While Nielsen is correct in their calculation, you cannot use this as the only measure of market size.

Bottoms up is a better approach to paint this picture of sizable opportunity. “If there are 1 million office goers in the city and you can attract 5% of them, you will earn 1 crore a month if you deliver breakfast 20 days a month”. This bottoms up approach to market sizing is what makes the cut and shows the true potential of your market.

4. A lot of logos with no revenue

Having Fortune 500 companies listed as customers, makes investors assume that the company is generating meaningful revenue. But if the financials do not corroborate, it can mean either the company’s definition of ‘customer’ is very loose and includes non-paying ‘customers’, or the company can’t charge enough for the product. Both options are equally bad.

5. Fake precision for early stage companies

As an early stage company, please admit if you don’t have enough data to measure metrics like CAC, LTV, Churn. Don’t try to convince investors with amazing metrics, for e.g. 20x CAC to LTV ratio, based on assumptions or unreliable evidence.

6. Writing the expected valuation

It’s OK to quote expected ballpark valuation in a meeting. It’s not OK to write the same (raising $4mn at $16mn pre) in your deck. It is naïve and takes away your leverage in the negotiation.

7. Calculating investors’ expected returns

It’s almost impossible for you & investors to calculate returns from an investment, so early in the life of a startup. Quoting a small number would turn off the investors and a huge number will make them ask more questions about your assumptions. This is definitely not where you should be spending your time.

Your job as an entrepreneur, is to build a huge company. That is what you should be obsessively focussed about.

8. No competition

Saying that you have no competition generally means either you have not done your homework or you are going after a tiny market that doesn’t matter. Odds are you have not done a good assessment of competition in your industry. Think strategically and broaden your horizon.

9. ‘Hard coded’ financials in your presentation

Hard coding numbers in your presentation is a rookie mistake. Linking your sheets with formulae and assumptions allows investors to play with various financial inputs to see how your business model will survive in changing conditions.

10. Team slide is simply a brief bio

This is one of the key slides of your presentation. Investors are bidding for your team and their biggest worry is if you would be able to execute. Make sure you talk about the chemistry, domain experience, past achievements. Mention the complimentary skills of your cofounders and if you have worked together before.

Do not create a sub-standard presentation of your headshots and degrees only.

11. Uninteresting or unrealistic projections

Projecting 5mn revenue in 5 years will not excite any investor. Also, projecting 500mn in 3 years will get you laughed out of the room if you are at zero revenue today.

Avoid assumptions that you won’t be able to justify, like 500% growth in revenue with only 30% increase in operating & marketing costs.

12. Lack of understanding of CAC and LTV of your customer

Be ready for questions on your user acquisition costs like what channels will you use to acquire a customer, what costs will you incur, what will be their likely life time value, which areas show most promise with marketing, what is your typical sales cycle duration. Lack of answers for these questions mean that you have not thought through your business plan.

13. Not paying attention to detail

For your legal protection, put a copyright notice at the bottom and add the phrase “Private & Confidential.” Include page numbers on each slide so that the investors can easily reference a specific page. Make sure your presentation is a visual treat, not text heavy and does not contain typos or inconsistencies.

14. Not being able to explain the key assumptions in your projections

It feels you don’t have a real handle on your business if you can’t explain your financial assumptions and projections. If you go unprepared, you will not get a second meeting with the investors.

15. Not articulating why your product or technology is different from a competitor

You will have to explain why your product is different and 10x better than your competitor. You can assume that investors know about competitive products or technology, and you need to have a good response. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with sloppy response.

16. Not being able to tell how you will use the investment capital and how long it will last

Investors want to know how you will use the raised funds and your burn rate (so that they know when you will need the next round of financing). It will also confirm that you know your costs for hiring, marketing, support & admin etc, given their experience with other startups.

17. Not capitalizing your intellectual property

Investors put heavy premium on intellectual property. Be ready for questions on what IP does your company have and how was it developed, whether any previous employer of your cofounders can have a claim on your IP.

18. Lack of direction and long term strategy

You need to have a clear strategy of where your company will be in 5yrs and how you are going to get there. Unrealistic expectations, naïve assumptions will not help you in closing this round.

19. Not understanding the difference between a stand alone deck and a presentation

The stand alone deck tends to be text heavy because you are not there to explain it. It explains certain graphs and other assumptions & ideas.

Your presentation deck should be visually appealing, with maximum 5 words per slide if possible. This will help you make a great presentation as you will not be reading out from your slides (which is the fastest way to put a room to sleep).

Use your stand alone deck only when you can’t be there.

Mistakes during the pitch

20. Apologizing before the start

Do not start with ‘I’m sorry, this is not what I normally do’.

When you open with this type of sentence, it shows you lack confidence. You have virtually conceded that you won’t be able to sell to the investors before you start. It means your team did not plan a good strategy for how to raise money and no one in your team can close a sale as you are the best of the worst on your team. Neither gives any confidence to the investors.

21. Stated a problem that isn’t a problem

Frame your problem statement such that it is clear what is the problem. When you say- ‘The problem is the same day delivery market and we plan to combat the Amazons of the world’, it does not mean anything. Do not assume that investors know what you mean.

22. Reading from the screen

Aside from the juvenile nature of this tactic, if you don’t know your business well enough to do a 60-second pitch, nobody would be interested. If you aren’t confident enough in your knowledge about your company or your industry to look the audience in the eye, they’ll never trust you. Even if you stumble a bit, it is better than reading your pitch to people right in front of you. They stopped listening as soon as you took out your notes.

23. Smelling of Desperation

Do not sound desperate when you pitch. If you come off as this investment is the only way for your business to survive, it seems needy and is unattractive to many investors, and can set you up to be taken advantage of. You’ll end up giving away way more equity then you should.

It is better to sound confident and make the investors believe that your startup is a gravy boat that they do not want to miss.

24. Taking Criticism Personally

Most investors are direct and are going to ask you the tough questions. That’s a good thing; it means they’re thinking about your idea. Don’t take feedback or tough questions as personal attacks. They have nothing against you.

25. Worrying about the demo/presentation that just won’t seem to work

If anything can go wrong, it will. Be ready for the worst-case scenarios. The demo that you planned, might not work. Keep a video of the demo as backup. Arrive early and get your laptop hooked to the projector before the meeting starts. If the on-screen presentation fails, use the print copies as backup.

If something does not work, move on. Do not kill the effectiveness of your pitch by wasting time.

26. Giving unnecessarily detailed presentation

Most investors you are going to pitch to are experienced and know exactly what they are looking for. You need to give them the right information which can convince them that your company is the right company to invest in.

27. Failure to Listen

Investors would ask you a lot of questions on business model and tech platform, during fundraising. They want to make sure that the investment does not turn out to be a failure. Do not take the questions as a question on your competence. Treat this curiosity as a good sign and do consider all possible alternatives.

28. ‘This is the last round’ threat.

Do not try to scare VCs into investing by saying that it’s the last round of financing. It makes you look like a rookie. We all know startups need money to grow and more so for growing fast. Stay away from such non-reasonable threats.

29. Using stand-alone deck for presentation

Do not stand there and annoy your audience by reading your deck line-by-line. Make sure you capture their interest, lead their imagination and passionately share your ideas. This is your show, be the master of the show.

30. Conservative numbers

You look amateur when you say that your numbers are conservative, during a pitch. Investors want a realistic forecast and would appreciate it if you could show it in your financial model.

31. NDA

No investor signs these, for simple reason that they can’t be exposed later by someone they did not invest in, claiming that their idea was similar to the one they chose to invest in. It would be better if you let them know that you are pre-market, and they would respect your privacy.

32. I’ll have to get back to you on that

Now this is alright if it’s about one or two points, but if there are too many details that you don’t know cold, on the spot, it shows you are not close enough to the business or that you haven’t truly thought it all the way through. Before your VC pitch meeting, conduct a role play with a team member or close friend. Ask your “actor” to be a complete jerk – have her poke as many holes in your delivery as possible. Anytime she has any sort of question, concern, inconsistency, etc, have her voice that to you. Record it. Take notes. Go back and fix it. Know the answers to her questions – and if you don’t know, figure them out. Do all of this with plenty of time before your actual meeting so you can make your tweaks. Chances are good that if she’s asking something, so would we – and it’s better to come from a close colleague than a total stranger on the cusp of writing you a check (or not).

33. Not Saving the Best for Last

As you keep pitching, you are going to get better with time. Use recurring questions and concerns after each pitch in your favour, and revise your deck accordingly. Once you get to the big fishes, you’ll be confident to close the deal.

34. Leaving Without the Q&A

No matter how organized a pitch is, it may fail to answer certain questions your audience has. Planning for Q&A time allows your pitch to be clear to someone unfamiliar with your line of work.

35. Rushing the Pitch

Speaking slowly makes you sound more confident and knowledgeable. If you get nervous, try to calm down and have a glass of water. Do not memorize your pitch but speak from the heart.

36. Picking the Wrong Angle

As a developer, you might be excited about a different angle of your startup like new back-end technology, than what the investors might be interested in. Investors want to learn more about items that will help them to formulate a judgment, such as how the business is going to make money and how the company will be scaled. Pitch to your audience.

37. Coming in with your team to a pitch meeting, but only have the CEO speak

Investors want to know that you have a good team. They want to get to know your team. If only the CEO speaks, how will they gauge if the other members are any good. More importantly do not have the team members contradict themselves.

38. Not knowing who you are talking to ahead of time

Know your audience. Different partners in a VC firm focus on different sectors. It is best for you if you know how well informed they are in your market segment. If they are already aware of your area, you would not have to explain, for e.g. why online spending is going to explode with the combination of AR &AI.

So when a meeting is confirmed, it’s best to ask who will be attending. The answer will help set the expectations.

39. Talking about features over benefits

Make sure you appeal to the emotional side as well. Talk about how your product is benefiting its customers, rather than the features. Talk in terms of the value your customer perceives, not the features that create that value. Make it easy to understand why the customers love your company.

Speaking of derived value is always a good bet. Sell a good night’s sleep rather than just a bed, sell 1000 songs on your phone rather than 1GB of extra memory.

40. Not focusing on business metrics

Investors are concerned with 5 major questions: the market opportunity, your team’s ability to turn the idea into a profitable business, the go to market strategy, your current & projected numbers and what you are asking for. Identify what drives each investor- do they want to be part of a groundbreaking company? Do they want to make money and exit fast? Target what drives them!

Focus on the business opportunity, rather than spending too much time on explaining your product. If you focus on the opportunity, you’ll have a better shot at keeping the investors’ interest.

41. Not getting a warm introduction

If you really want to hit it outside the park, make sure you get a really warm intro. Sometimes investors take a meeting with lukewarm intro, with 99% certainty of not investing, just to be courteous to the person who introduced you. The colder the introduction, the lower the chances of your success.

42. Not asking the portfolio companies for advice

If the previous founders the investor has funded tell you even one thing about what the investor loves or hates, your effort was worth it. This is inside information, mostly available to inner circle only. So go out and rummage through LinkedIn for connections, stalk them on Facebook & Twitter and find their email address. Use LinkedIn premium if all else fails. But do not return empty handed from this quest.

43. Do not be uncoachable

Do not scare away investors by coming across as uncoachable. Your lack of flexibility, unwillingness to share control or not bringing in new executives at the right time might cost you closing the round.

44. Discussing ownership stakes

Do not discuss how much ownership you’re willing to offer investors, in the initial pitch. These details come up after the investor has finished researching your company. Your primary goal right now is to build a relationship with the investor.

If an investor asks about ownership terms early on, simply say you’re ‘flexible’. Do not quote a hard number that kills your pitch right there.

45. Not quantifying results

When you use words like ‘lot of traction’, ‘big market’, ‘little funding’, it annoys investors.

If you say anything is ‘little’ you are basically discounting it- little company, little website. Let the audience decide what is important. Vague terms have no place in an investor pitch.

46. Desperate closing

If you close with ‘Please talk to me and I can show you how to get back your money’, it looks like an insult to the investors.

Aside from the obvious desperate nature of this plea, investors are not worried about getting their money back. They are interested in getting a 10x RETURN for their investment. Getting their money back is not something that excites them.

47. Not following up in a timely manner

Follow up with your primary contact a few days after the conversation to suggest possible next steps that the investor can follow to learn more about the company and the opportunity. It would be better if you communicate some urgency about your fundraising process to the investor and your startup is at the top of his mind. Even if the investor gives it a pass, it’s better to know than waiting in limbo as an entrepreneur.

48. Making investors wait for the documents

Serious investors will ask for more documents than simply a pitch deck. This can be anything from incorporation certificate to financial projections to tax filings. Have commonly requested documents like these ready, in a file-sharing site like Google Drive or DropBox. There is no reason to make an investor wait for a couple of weeks while you gather these docs; it is a waste of time and momentum, and can easily be interpreted as sloppy preparation. If you make this pitch mistake, all your previous effort goes to waste.

49. Phrases to avoid

All we need is 1% of the market,

We will get huge viral usage,

This product will market itself,

Google will want to buy us,

Our projection numbers are conservative,

Lot of traction, big market.

5 Path-Breaking iPhone App Ideas for Startup Appreneurs

May 14, 2018

Entrepreneur

Comments Off on 5 Path-Breaking iPhone App Ideas for Startup Appreneurs


Mobile apps are becoming paramount in people’s lives and have not left any sphere of human activity out of its influence.There evolved innumerable mobile app development firms in the past years all over the world and developers started deploying most advanced tools and methodologies for giving life to app ideas. There are a whole lot of innovative apps for iOS and Android platforms, already prevailing for businesses in affluent sectors like food-restaurant, shopping, travel and tourism, education, and healthcare. While many powerful and far-fetched apps are catering well to the purpose of businesses, here’s some thought-provoking app ideas for iPhones that can enhance the lives of people in meaningful ways.

Vacation Guide
Apps for availing travel and tourism services are prevalent. Many small and large transport agencies have brought forth ticket booking, hotel reservations, sightseeing transportation services for travellers and tourists with their own apps. SO, isn’t it a great idea to complement such app services with another app that will act as a primary vacation guide? It will simply focus on providing every minutest detail of a destination, place/city to help tourists plan their trip wisely. Further, implanting useful features such as cab and bus finder, transport fare calculator, best restaurants/hotel finder, notifying about local events and many more, will make such an app a great trip companion for travellers.

Jobs connector
With many small and medium-base enterprises seeking people, sometimes freelancers, to get their things done, there’s a need for a marketplace to connect them with the people who are actually looking for such kind of work to either earn extra money or to get their career started. This is irrefutably a nice area to tap into for entering the mobile app industry. Moreover, the app maker will get to earn a certain percentage of the amount negotiated between the businesses and job seekers as commission by acting as a third-party between them.

Compact Home cook guide
This app will be a fruitful area for any start-up investment in the app’s province that can earn amply because of exponential growth in the number of working population. Most households do not get proper time to learn cooking, prepare great meals and thus, ends up with canned foods and home deliveries from fast-food outlets. However, creating an app that gives a good chance to the busy folks to have healthy home cooked meals is a prudent idea. They can get innumerable easy-to-made recipes by entering the groceries available at their table through the apps, hire on-demand cooks and order home-made meals from takeaways services in their location proximity.

On-demand household assistant
Households struggle hard often to get services for caretakers, maids or general technicians like carpenters, electricians, car cleaners, etc. on demand. So, with an app, an aspiring appreneurs can offer useful mobility solutions to households to find any kind of assistants or technicians on the go. They just need to contact like-minded professionals in these areas and list their services on the app. Customers can randomly check their availability in the app and book their services, with which owners can earn a commission too. While demand for such services is surging everywhere, app makers just need to market their app just to the right audiences.

Rent application
Buying new stuff always can be difficult, owing to the restricted budget in everyone’s hand. It can be anything from a new PC, toaster, to a new apartment. To serve people with their urgent needs even when they do not have a budget for it, a rent app will be highly purposeful. Users can choose among a range of items and rent them on the periodic basis at affordable or compromised rates. Also, for individuals who do not prefer buying the things needed temporarily, finding such an app will definitely be a boon.

There are many other ideas too for newbies in the app market apart from these unique app ideas, to kick-start their venture like on-demand salon services, budget calculator, medical reporting, doctor finder, babysitter/pet sitter finder, time planner, and so forth. However, irrespective of the domain in which they are operating, an app with a solitary idea and holistic approach is bound to score success sooner.