Tag: angel network

What Makes Your Business?

http://angelnetwork.com/ammlive/ – Tip Of The Day – “We become what we do” – everything we say and do on a daily basis – regarding our businesses – dictates the value, brand and longevity of our companies.

**What is Angel Investors Network?
Angel Investors Network (AIN) was created by a group of successful entrepreneurs, investment bankers, angel investors, marketing and management experts, lawyers and accountants who have built companies in a diverse set of industries.
AIN offers investors an opportunity to participate in the buying and selling of businesses, making equity investments, and providing debt financing to businesses with the opportunity of managing risk and creating wealth.
AIN also works with investors, marketing strategists, management experts and financial gurus who combine their skills and experience to work with our target entrepreneurs and make them highly successful business owners.

We are more than just Angel Investors. We are a community of experts that invest our time, expertise, and money in exchange for equity with the objective to perpetuate free enterprise, capitalism and support the entrepreneur spirit while creating wealth, happiness and fulfillment for all those involved.

The 7 Stages of Business Ownership

Building a business doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t build a business and then wait for it to grow. You start with a barely feasible idea and you nurture it, guiding it through several phases of evolution until it becomes almost unrecognizable. If you’re lucky, it will keep evolving until you start generating a substantial profit, and become stable enough to consider an exit strategy.

If you keep pressing, you’ll find that there are seven main “stages” of business ownership, each with its own challenges and opportunities. Learning more about these stages can help you plan for your business’s growth and give you key insights on which to build your organization.

1. The idea.

The idea stage is a bit more than just coming up with the original idea for your business, though it is that as well. Once you’ve got some solid business idea, the remainder of this phase is spent putting together all the pieces of how, exactly, you can pull this off. That means creating a thorough business plan you can use as the blueprint for your business, working out all the kinks you didn’t think about when you came up with that initial spark, compensating for the competition you anticipate, and figuring out how you’re going to finance everything.

2. The launch.

This phase marks the “official” start of your business, though you can still consider yourself an entrepreneur in the first phase. At this point, you’ll have all the resources you need to begin operations. You’ll find an office (if you need one), secure equipment (if you need it), and start looking for your first clients and customers. This is a hectic stage, but usually doesn’t carry any financial risks–you’ve secured enough funding to see you through this phase. The big problem lies in facing the first line of problems you didn’t anticipate in your business plan–and they will come up.

3. Survival.

The next stage is probably the most volatile, because it’s a make-or-break point for your business plan. You’ll start to run out of your initial funding, but it’s still too early to have any manageable flow of revenue. You’re likely changing things in your business daily, so your structure is volatile, and all the while you’re scrambling to pick up enough clients to keep you afloat. Your business will either learn to adapt quickly or burn out in a flash–it’s up to you and your team to decide which. Adaptation is the key to surviving the “survival” stage, and it isn’t easy.

4. Floating steady.

Though the process will be slow and gradual, eventually you’ll secure enough clients and revenue to pull yourself out of the survival phase. At this point, you’ll be able to float steadily, breaking even or making a profit on a predictable basis, and all your internal processes will start to stabilize. You’ll learn to count on your core team, your products will be consistent, and you’ll start to think that theoretically, your business could sustain itself forever–and if you let it, it just might. Some businesses stop at this phase and self-sustain indefinitely, and there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re after something more.

5. Growth.

The growth phase involves acceleration beyond your floating steady setup, and though it can happen naturally through word-of-mouth and high client retention, it’s more likely that you’ll instill this growth through some effort of your own. You can achieve this in a number of ways, usually involving heavy leaning on your sales and marketing teams. The more you promote your business, and the better job you do at retaining your existing customers, the better your chance at scaling your business upward. However, be aware that with growth comes volatility–growing too quickly or too slowly can put too much pressure on your resources.

6. Evolution.

Generally speaking, as your business reaches a certain point of growth, it’s going to need to change in some drastic way to continue growing, or even to survive. For example, it may need to split into different companies, or it may need to acquire a new company to help it in some key area. It may need to branch out into different locations, or it may need to adopt a new model for some of its central processes. This evolution will be difficult, as your business has been consistent for some time, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

7. Exit.

Finally, at some point, you’ll reach the level you wanted to achieve, and it’ll be time for you to move on. That might mean selling the business, passing it to one of your team members or a family member, or simply retiring and letting someone else figure out what to do (though I don’t advise this).

4 Tools That Make Your Small Business Look Big

Being a small company has its benefits: You’re agile, able to change directions at a moment’s notice. You’ve got autonomy, as your business is independent of a giant conglomerate. No, you’re not attracting the same number of consumers as a household name business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look every bit as professional to the consumers you do reach. You can make your small business look big.

Build/Update your Website:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) estimated last year that 50 percent of all small businesses still didn’t have a website. Without a presence on the web, your small business can easily go unnoticed by potential customers. Now the good news: It’s easier than ever to create a website, especially one that your customers can access from their mobile devices. More than 75 percent of mobile phone users access the internet through them, and the number will rise to nearly 86 percent by 2018. Google now favors sites which work well on mobile in its search results: You definitely want to be one of the top results when people go looking.

There are many free or low-cost tools now to build a website. Choose a design labeled “mobile-friendly” or responsive, which means it will automatically adjust to any platform, from desktop or laptop computers to tablets and phones. If you have an existing website, you should be able to update it to the newest technology simply by choosing a mobile or responsive design. Remember, there are ready made designs for every industry now, from healthcare to restaurants.

Establish a marketing budget.

Procter & Gamble spent $2.64 billion on marketing in 2014, the most of any company in the world. A small business certainly can’t match that, but any small business that hopes to grow must budget some amount to get its products in front of consumers. While people may say a product “practically sells itself”, nothing does, which is why many companies spend so heavily on marketing.

How much do you need to spend to look big? A recent survey by CMO magazine found big businesses spend, on average, 11 percent of their total budget on marketing and advertising. If you don’t have a budget, take a look at your revenues. CMO found that marketing spending was about 6.6 percent of revenue, down from 11 percent in August 2012. (Generally a business which sells to other businesses can put less into marketing than a business that sells to consumers). If you want to launch a big campaign but don’t have the resources in hand, you may be able to secure outside funding to do so. One chiropractor I know planned a large mailing about some new services. He knew 10 new customers would be more than enough to justify the cost of the marketing and secured short-term funding to pay for it. With careful planning, he met his goal and repaid his funding.

Grow your social media presence.

P&G shocked the ad world in 2014 when it sharply cut its traditional advertising budget and put more money into digital ads and social media platforms. Social media is an absolute necessity now.

But which social media platform will make you look bigger? If you’re in a professional business and you need to connect with professional colleagues, I’d recommend LinkedIn. If you run a restaurant and you want to show people how great your food looks, try Instagram, which is also a great tool for connecting with teenage consumers. See which sites the big brands in your industry use, and use that as a guideline.

While social media started as free, it is becoming increasingly less so. Big brands pay big money for placement in front of the right consumers, and Facebook has been trying to nudge more of its small business users into becoming advertisers. If it’s going to be hard to run your social media presence and your business, you may need to invest in someone to do your posting for you. Ask to see their past work, and if they are going to be freelance, make sure they’re not also working for a competitor.

Beyond simply creating content on Facebook or Twitter, it’s vital to track your conversations there. Luckily, there are social media tracking tools like Perch, which lets you watch not only your activity on social media, but what your customers are saying about your business and what your competition is doing.

Spend money to make money.

Big brands invest in their business every day. The right website, consistent marketing and the use of modern marketing tools like social media are all key–and they are easier than ever for small businesses to have as well.

Achieve Any Goal By Following These 5 Simple Steps

Highly productive entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily special, but they are usually very driven and have unlocked the secrets to achieving their goals. When you know how to attack any objective with the right approach, you too can become unstoppable.

I’ve learned over my successful entrepreneurial experiences that good goal setting is easy to hypothesize about, but challenging to execute. As I figured out over the years how to go from making lists of goals to actually getting them accomplished, I learned a few steps that made the process of goal setting transformative.

Here are five simple steps for every entrepreneur to achieve any goal.

1. Make it smaller.

The vision of the goal has to start out big, and even a little vague, but then you have to turn that into several of what I call “something smaller” goals. This transforms a big lofty ambition into tent-pole moments along the path that you can achieve in smaller steps.

For example, wanting to improve your diet and increase physical activity are among the most common goals out there. I wouldn’t recommend suddenly going cold turkey on all your usual foods and going to the gym every day, but rather setting milestones along the road. Break the goals down into smaller lifestyle benchmarks, such as eliminating certain foods over the course of a month, then adding in more movement over the course of the following weeks.

By making small goal benchmarks to work toward, the goal becomes achievable overall because you made it actionable in smaller steps.

2. Make it reasonable.

I always say a good goal is one that stretches you to the edge of your comfort zone, but not one that crosses over into fantasy. Everyone would love to make a million dollars this year, but if that’s not a number you can truly wrap your brain around, start with a number that stretches you but is believable.

If you are making $2,500 consistently a month, then could bumping the year-end goal to $10,000 a month actually be something you could believe? It doesn’t get you to a million this year, but it bumps your goal to something that’s believable for you and thus, feels more achievable. Once you get to year’s end and $10,000 a month feels comfortable and realistic, you can bump it again.

These smaller, realistic goals feed into the first step of breaking big ideas into smaller actions, too.

3. Make it known.

A great way to achieve any goal is to get the right support for your journey. You want to tell people who will be supportive and involved in your success. That has the benefit of bolstering you during times of challenge, but also when you verbalize your goals you tend to follow through better. You hold yourself more accountable to goals you’ve shared with others and that can help you reach them.

4. Make it trackable.

Breaking goals into smaller benchmarks helps to create action plans to smaller events that will eventually have a cumulative effect toward the big picture. This is a great tactic in terms of actions, but also a good tactic to help you put some metrics and measurement into the task.

If the goal is weight loss, then how much will you lose by each benchmark goal deadline you set? If it’s increasing your earnings, how can you track what you spend, what money is coming in and how you will generate more income through reducing your customer acquisition costs? Furthermore, how can you track your progress along the way to see how your overall goal is progressing against your small milestones?

5. Make it fun.

As you meet your benchmarks, set up ways to celebrate or enjoy your victories. Make tracking the progress fun and meaningful. The more fun you can have along the way with your goals, the more successful you’ll be at achieving them.

The purpose of any goal isn’t just to achieve it, but often it’s to integrate it into your daily lifestyle, so learn to enjoy not just the destination but also the process of getting there.

10 Skills That Are Hard to Learn But Pay Off Forever

The best things in life may be free, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take time, sweat, and perseverance to acquire. That’s especially the case when it comes to learning important life skills.

What are the hardest and most useful skills to learn?
We’ve highlighted our favorite takeaways.

1. Time management

Effective time management is one of the most highly valued skills by employers. While there is no one right way, it’s important to find a system that works for you and stick to it.

“The hardest thing to learn for me was how to plan,” she writes. “Not to execute what I have planned, but to make so epic a to-do list and to schedule it so thoroughly that I’m really capable of completing all the tasks on the scheduled date.”

2. Empathy

“You can be the most disciplined, brilliant, and even wealthy individual in the world, but if you don’t care for or empathize with other people, then you are basically nothing but a sociopath.”

Empathy, as business owner Jane Wurdwand explains, is a fundamental human ability that has too readily been forsworn by modern business.

“Empathy — the ability to feel what others feel — is what makes good sales and service people truly great. Empathy as in team spirit — esprit d’corps — motivates people to try harder. Empathy drives employees to push beyond their own apathy, to go bigger, because they feel something bigger than just a paycheck,” she writes.

3. Mastering your sleep

There are so many prescribed sleep hacks out there it’s often hard to keep track. But regardless of what you choose, establishing a ritual can help ensure you have restful nights.

Numerous studies show that being consistent with your sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up, and it helps promote better sleep in general.

4. Positive self-talk

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what others think of you, but what you think of yourself certainly does, and it takes time to build that level of confidence and ability to believe in yourself when nobody else does.”

5. Consistency

Whether you’re trying a new exercise routine, studying for the LSATs, or working on an important project, consistency is vital to maintaining any kind of success.

People often stop working hard when they reach the top, he explains, but to maintain that top position, they have to work harder and be more consistent in their work.

6. Asking for help

“I once was told in a job interview, ‘You can’t have this job if you can’t ask for help when you need it, naturally, I said I could. Later, I found out that the previous person with that job had screwed up big-time because he was in over his head but couldn’t admit it and didn’t ask for help.”

She explains that knowing when you need help and then asking for it is surprisingly difficult to learn and do because no one wants to be perceived as weak or incompetent.

But a recent study from the Harvard Business School suggests doing so makes you look more, not less, capable. According to the study authors, when you ask people for advice, you validate their intelligence or expertise, which makes you more likely to win them over.

7. Knowing when to shut up — and actually doing it

“You can’t go around whining about every other thing that seems not-so-right to you in this world… Sometimes you just need to shut up.”

There are many instances when keeping to yourself is the best course. “When we are angry, upset, agitated, or vexed, we blurt out anything and everything that comes to our mind.” And later, you tend to regret it.

Keeping your mouth shut when you’re agitated is one of the most valuable skills to learn, and of course, one of the most difficult.

8. Listening

Along with shutting up comes listening…

“Most of us in the workplace are so overwhelmed with things to do — instant messaging, phones ringing. I mean, our brain can only tolerate so much information before it snaps.”

One tip for active listening is repeating back what you heard to the other person. “It makes things so much easier when everyone is on the same page,” she said.

9. Minding your business

“It takes ages to learn and master this.”

Sticking your nose into other people’s work isn’t helpful and wastes time and resources, she says. “You have no right to put forth your two or four cents, even if you are the last righteous person standing.”

10. Mastering your thoughts

To do what you want to do and accomplish what you want to accomplish, you need to consciously direct your thinking.

“The challenge is that we are the product of our past experience and all of our thinking is the result of this,” he says. “However, the past does not equal the future.”

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