http://angelnetwork.com/ammlive/ – Tip Of The Day – Greg shares how the way we treat our employees rolls over to our customers and customer referrals.
**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.
http://www.AngelNetwork.com – In this Angel Investors Network Tip Of The Day I share that investors should do a site visit of the offices of any company they invest in. Take time to meet and talk with the team, meet the employees. It’s part for the due diligence process.
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On the surface, launching a startup and running a small business is like comparing apples to oranges. Startups are perceived as sexy and up and-coming while small businesses conjure images of local mom-and-pop shops, the quintessential Main Street America.
However, at the heart of each of these business models are six core qualities entrepreneurs need to succeed and, believe it or not, they have little to do with hard-hitting technology and everything to do with communication and self-improvement.
Whether you’re selling software or pouring coffee, the hardest thing about managing a business is interacting with those around you. To ensure employee satisfaction and provide customers with the best possible experiences, here are essential qualities small-business owners and startups alike should embrace.
Even if you aren’t running a software startup, business owners must understand how technology works to run smarter businesses and compete with other leaders in the space.
By engaging with software, small-business owners will become fluent in effective management strategy and find seamless ways to insert technology in everyday operations. For instance, a deep understanding of software can also help business owners stay on top of consumer trends by evaluating available data and, in turn, provide tailored services for customers.
Motivation is an essential part of any business’ success. To keep employees excited about coming to work each day, business owners must motivate them to grow within their roles. Even if you only have one location, create pathways for employees to move up within your store. Workers want to feel as though they have a career path; growth is what enables that. To engage staff about progression, be excited yourself and remind them of the key reasons they jumped onboard in the first place and the opportunity that’s still available.
Just because the term pivot is traditionally tied to startups, doesn’t mean small businesses aren’t doing so, too. Like startups, small businesses should embrace experimentation and test different strategies to find what works best for their business and customers. By testing different variables — vendors, products and software, to name a few — business owners can see which stimuli best affects the outcome of their operations and provide customers with the most exemplary experiences.
To engage longstanding employees and encourage a vested interest in the company, consider offering staff equity after working a set amount of time.
Small-business owners can also adopt this practice through profit sharing based on how many hours one works, though this can become difficult as businesses grow.
Across the board, tech startups are perceived as being data driven. However, just because business owners have access to a plethora of data doesn’t mean they should always remain immersed in it. Despite popular belief, businesses cannot be 100 percent data driven. It’s inefficient to rely solely on hard numbers, so founders must learn how to trust their gut in different situations. At the end of the day, dwell on those numbers that are most important and let them inform your decisions — you’ll find your instinct is consistent with those most crucial points.
Also, a startup requires increased collaboration, so founders must learn to listen to gut reactions and not shy away from making decisions. The same can be said for small businesses — employees want to know which direction they should go. Give them the right goals and get creative in finding ways to achieve them.
Of all the qualities a business should maintain, transparency sits right on top. Employees need to know where a business is heading and customers value a glance into internal operations — whether it’s a glimpse at ingredients or ensuring a company endorses ethical suppliers. Customers also value “trying before they buy,” so invite them to “tasting rooms” and offer free trials to grant them first-hand experience with a product. By putting offerings on display, business owners can rightfully earn customers’ business.
While startups and small businesses have their fair share of differences, success is success. Grooming these qualities will not only build stronger managers but smarter businesses that cater to the needs of customers, whether in Silicon Valley or just down the street.
There’s a point along every entrepreneur’s path to success where the option is either to acquire capital or watch your company crumble. But there are subtleties to capital that all entrepreneurs should know.
It’s important, for instance, to know that the right kind of funding can have a huge impact on the direction of your company. In a recent survey of small business owners, fully half of the businesses surveyed, with 11 to 50 employees each, listed “cash flow” as their top concern. Twenty-one percent reported a closely related issue, “raising capital/funding,” as their top concern
These concerns reflect what small business owners everywhere face. Capital is easier to access than it has been in the past, but it is still imperative that owners choose the funding source that will best match their specific needs.
Even billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has pointed out that an investor’s deep pockets are “not the essential quality that will sustain the relationship and the business in the long-term.” So, if you are unfortunate enough to choose the wrong financial partner, your move — according to Branson and common sense — will “dim the spirit and enthusiasm of a new enterprise, muffling the spark that prompted you to launch this project.”
That spark, Branson said, is the one that “is most likely to make your venture different from your competitors.'” Here, then, are some tips for recovering that spark and finding the right investor(s).
The Small Business Administration Venture Capital Guide provides a detailed overview options in the types of investment options you should be aware of.
Entrepreneurs looking for funding should also consider government venture capital programs available through the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. SPICs are privately owned investment funds guaranteed by the SBA to offer equity and debt investments to small businesses.
The SBA itself has loaned out more than $19 billion in 2014 to small businesses. Many of the restrictions that have been implemented in the past have been lifted, and more loans are now available.
How do you choose between seed investors vs. angel investors and venture capitalists? A post on the Grasshopper blog explains: “If you need a small amount of money to get going, you’re looking for seed money. A seed investor invests tiny sums into a company during its earliest days, hoping to grab a percentage of companies before they explode.
YCombinator is an example of a seed investor, the blog says, continuing: “If you need a larger investment, you’re looking for angel investment. Angel investors are typically retired businesspeople who keep an eye out for investment opportunities. Substantially higher investments tend to come only from venture capitalists.”
How involved do you want your investors to be?
Bo Yaghmaie, a partner at law firm Cooley LLP, has written inEntrepreneur that when meeting with potential financial partners, “You’ll want to ask questions about their most recent investments, what they typically provide to companies, their expectation of CEOs and how involved they like to be.” All of these questions can help determine whether the partnership will be the best one.
Other factors you should aware of when it comes to potential investors include: their area of focus, the stage of development they invest in and their reputation.
Take time to think about what you want to say. How will you share your mission and attract someone who shares your vision? Yaghmaie provides pointers in another Entrepreneur article. He says: “Here’s the short answer: start with a great pitch deck. The pitch deck is arguably the most important document you will generate in the life of your company. It is ‘the hook’ by which you will capture the attention and imagination of an investor.”
Discuss how your product or service will solve a problem. The SBA recommends fine-tuning your pitch based on the investor you’re pitching to.
Finally, have a clear business plan and “be sure to include realistic financials and market research to back up your predictions,” advises the SBA. “Plan on being able to communicate sound bites from your plan, particularly how you will generate profit and how that will flow into your investor’s pockets.”
When you’re raising capital, you may feel that you should accept any money that comes your way. This approach is wrong, says David Cohen, an angel investor and co-founder of startup accelerator TechStars. In his book Do More Faster, Cohen explained why the investor-entrepreneur relationship is important. Like any relationship, he wrote, the wrong one can pull you in the wrong direction, whereas the right one will take you where you need to go, faster, more efficiently and as part of a winning team.