Getting in front of financing partners
Even as a boutique advisory and investment firm, Morgan Investments is getting requests from at least 3 start-ups per week. Combined with all the work we have going on with our current partners, this doesn’t leave enough time to fully evaluate all our new opportunities. As I work with entrepreneurs, I often find them missing on a few fairly simple things that make it very easy for me to let them fall off of my radar (and therefore save time for the companies that don’t miss on these).
Here are a few simple and straightforward suggestions to help you get – and stay – in front of financing partners.
1. Always do what you say, when you say you will do it
When you promise to deliver tomorrow a pro forma that explains channel marketing verses direct sales expenses, make sure you send it tomorrow and make sure it successfully explains the specific question of channel verses direct. Far too often, entrepreneurs miss deadlines. That is an easy one, but endlessly frustrating and a very bad indicator for investors.
Further, even when time expectations are met the materials shared often don’t successfully answer the concerns discussed. Your may have to evolve your standard materials in order to satisfy your different targets. I suggest doing a quick outline of what your potential investor wants to know, and then read through your materials and check off each question that they specifically address. Don’t send that document until you check off 100% of the issues.
2. Make sure to cover your business bases
Most start-ups need to continue to build out a team, and financing helps the ability to do this. Entrepreneurs should present a plan, though, to discuss how current and future management talent will successfully lead at least the 4 major disciplines: Sales/Marketing, Finance, Operations and Technology. Don’t be afraid to highlight weaknesses as long as you display an understanding about what and how you will turn them into strengths. If you can present a current team that has experience and success in all 4, then you have a big head start on success… as a business and to secure capital.
3. Work after hours – or at least make it seem like you do
Most private finance (Angel, VC and PE) professionals have extensive entrepreneurial experience of their own. We have been in your shoes. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve had successes. And we have worked all hours of the day, night and weekend for our companies. If you are an entrepreneur on the fundraising trail, be available to take a meeting and provide answers, 24/7. Let your potential investors know you are willing to work all hours and do anything to make your company successful (and to protect their future investment).
There certainly is a lot more to building a business and to impressing investors than the above three points. If you don’t take care of these relatively easy and straightforward things, though, you may never get the chance to show off the real value of your start-up.
Here’s why you shouldn’t start a startup
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Building your own startup and being your own boss sounds tempting, but be sure you make these considerations before starting out.
2020, a year for our generation that will most likely be marked in infamy for decades to come. At least I hope that this is the bottom of the barrel, because if there’s even further to go… Those fallout shelters are starting to look homey.
A lot of people, myself included, are looking for different options for new careers. Maybe it’s time to place some faith in those back-burner dreams that no one ever really thought would come to fruition. But there are some things about starting up a new business that we should all really keep in mind.
While you can find any number of lists to help you to get things going, here’s a short list that makes beginning a new business venture a monumental effort:
- You need to have a unique idea with an impeccable execution. Ideas are a dime a dozen. But even the goods ones need the right business-minded person behind it to get things going for them.
- Time, time, and more time. To get a startup to a point where it is sustainable and giving you back something that is worthwhile, takes years. Each of those years will take many decisions that you can only hope will pan out. There is no quick cash except for a lottery and you have to be extra lucky for those to get you anything. This whole idea will take years of your life away and it may end in failure no matter what you do.
- You have to have the stamina. Most data will show you that startups fail 90% of the time. The majority of those are because people gave up on the idea. You have to push and keep pushing or you’ll never get there yourself. Losing determination is the death of any business venture.
- Risk is a lifestyle. To get anywhere in life you have to risk something. Starting a business is all about risking your time and maybe your money to get a new life set up. If you can’t take risks for the future then you can’t move up in the business world.
- Bad timing and/or a bad market. If you don’t have a sense for the market around you, which takes time and experience (or a lot of luck), you won’t make it. A keen business sense is absolutely necessary for you to succeed in a startup. Take some time and truly analyze yourself and your idea before trying something.
- Adaptability is also a necessity. The business world can be changed at the drop of a hat, with absolutely no warning. Rolling with the punches is something you have to do or every little change is going to emotionally take a toll on you.
- Lastly, not all of this depends upon your actions. If you start something that relies on investors, you’re likely going to get told “no” so many times that you’ll feel like it’s on repeat. Not everything is dependent upon your beliefs and whims. You need to be able to adjust to this and get people to see things from your point of view as well. But ultimately, it’s not all about you, it’s also about them.
These are just a few ways that starting a startup could stress you out. So, while the future could be bright, stay cautious and think twice before making any life changing decisions.
Restaurants: Going digital is simple with these tools
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) In 2020, restaurants going digital is critical. Luckily, it’s also easy, safe, and may even save you money.
So, you own or manage a restaurant and you have yet to “digitize” your menu for COVID-era safe ordering? No problem! Transitioning your menu and service to the virtual realm has never been easier. There are a ton of options for restaurants to choose from to keep your customers feeling at-ease, your front-of-house staff happy, and the whole service experience streamlined for all parties involved.
A free app with over 500 restaurant partners and 5k+ active users, AAHI is a user-friendly platform that uses QR codes to share menus and NFC for contactless payments. AAHI boasts a 25% order increase for participating restaurants and who can say no to that, especially during these tough times. Additionally, you’ll be cutting down on operational costs by around 30% (better tech equals less need for servers!), and your laid-off staff will be able to collect unemployment if they need to.
Another free (up to 200 views a month) app with an emphasis on curbside pick-up is Orderlina. Customers scan a QR code, which takes them to the same menu they would see if they were going to eat in, making it an integrated experience. A bonus is that the app links your menu to your social channels. I always say, free marketing is never a bad thing! Plus, you’ll be more likely to gain followers and receive micro-content from satisfied customers. Win-win!
Especially with winter right around the corner and outdoor seating becoming an increasingly limited option (especially depending on where you live), everyone in the industry is eventually going to have to make the shift to digital – the question is when. Physical menus have become a thing of the past. Not only are they potential vessels for spreading COVID-19, but if you are using disposable paper ones, you’re undoubtedly creating unneeded waste. Same goes for the exchange of cash, or card payments that require contact. Good riddance!
The common goal across the entire industry right now is to stay open and bring in capital in whatever capacity possible, while also maintaining a healthy staff and a pleasurable, safe experience for patrons. That’s going to require some adjustment and creativity compared to service pre-COVID. By converting to digital, you are putting your best foot forward into the uncertain future for the restaurant industry.
Scientifically check your risk for burnout with this free quiz
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) This new tool lets you take a free self-assessed, science-based burnout test to give you an idea of how much self-care you need.
Concerns of keeping self-care and mental health in a positive spot – specifically in relation to burnout – have been a hot topic of discussion. While COVID-19 has exacerbated these concerns and stress levels, the issue of burnout has been around for quite some time.
Work burnout is often discussed within terms of work-life balance. Simple ways to avoid that crash are enforcing a hard stop on reading or responding to emails at a certain time of evening, or to continuously clean your workspace. Easier said than done, but it is critical.
But sometimes you have to look at the nitty gritty. Sometimes you have to ask difficult questions about your job and your personality in order to understand how burnout is impacting you. This can now be done with Global IT Burnout Index, a free, science-based assessment to tackle your stressors before it’s too late.
This is geared towards people working in tech (as the website reads, “burnout in tech is high and real”), but is useful for any industry.
To begin, you simply start the quiz and answer a few questions about yourself and your job (e.g. “I find it difficult to relax after a day of work” and then you answer based on how strongly you agree or disagree).
There are 10 total questions, and no personal information is asked (no name or email). It is open data, meaning it will help people on the other side better understand burnout; but, it’s totally anonymous.
The quiz takes no longer than 2 minutes. At the end, it will give you a number out of 6 measuring your burnout rate. The higher the number, the more likely you are to experience burnout.
Burnout has the ability to manifest physically and mentally, and can take a toll on your body and mind. Knowing if you’re experiencing high amounts of activity that can lead to burnout can help you know if you need to take precautions to change things in your life or job.
For those of us working from home, the situation is a Catch-22. You aren’t currently forced into a stressful commute. But it’s harder to pull yourself away when 5pm (or whatever your end time is) rolls around.
For people in the office or on site, it’s the same thing. You get to socialize (safely, obvi) with your coworkers, but there’s those on-site pressures.
No situation is perfect, but understanding if you’re in a situation where you could use a change or some help is incredibly important – especially these days.
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