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5 Great Habits to Look for in Startup CEOs

Being CEO of a startup is similar to being a new parent. Your peers see a clean and polished toddler with very proud parents. But we all know what goes on behind closed doors. Sleepless nights, constant supervision, stress, more stress and no time to attend to other relationships. You are a laden by this new creature. When it’s all said and done, parenting is incredibly rewarding, but it’s very hard work and not for the faint of heart. And just as parenting isn’t for everyone, being a startup CEO isn’t always a good fit either. If you are an investor looking for a CEO you can trust with your money, here are the five personal attributes you should look for:   1. Attracts Great Talent If top talent lines up to work for someone, that person has got something worth paying attention to. Be careful though. Anyone could be CEO of super fast growing startup and attract great talent. So make sure it is the CEO who can attract talent, not just someone clinging to the fire at a hot company. As such, it’s imperative to dig into the company’s team and see what’s turning the gears.   2. Networking Genius A good CEO can really stretch their rolodex, leading to a ton of benefits for the company. Shorten sales cycles, faster hiring times, quicker fundraising — the quicker a company scales, the quicker you get a return on your investment.   3. High Intelligence The CEO doesn’t have to be the Albert Einstein at the office, but he needs to be in the conversation. In any startup,...

3 Ways to Make the Most of Crowdfunding

Finding capital to help lift your business off the launching pad is not an easy task, particularly if your product or service falls under a niche market. Maybe investors think your innovation as too outlandish to risk their capital. Fortunately, there’s now a well-documented alternative to conventional funding structures: crowdfunding. But crowdfunding is no longer a radical means to startup capital, it has become a very serviceable and reliable foundation for many companies. Whether your campaign target is $50,000 or $50 Million, you need to know the game your playing. If you are looking to source capital from the public at large, here are three tips to do it right. 1. Pick the Right Product Crowdfunding has enabled the launch of everything from virtual reality, video games, hollywood movies and energy efficient vehicles to potato salads, hip-hop clothing, locally made beer and boardgames. There is no limit to what can work with the use crowdfunding, and that’s the point. But when you are dipping into the pockets of investors, you need to be able to mollify them along the way. Be mindful that tangible products tend to perform better than services. From an investor’s point of view, you invest in a product concept and in return you get the actual product, something that you can see, hold and (in some cases) smell and taste.    2. Do Your Research “If you build it, they will come.” Sure, this ended up working out for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but as we are often reminded, real life isn’t like the movies. Market research may sound exhausting both mentally and...

5 Ways to Make Your Business More Attractive to Investors

The truth is, there’s a lot of people like you out there looking to raise money through venture capital, angel investors and private equity. If you are wondering how to separate yourselves from the pack, take a look at these five tips to make your business more attractive. 1. Have Your Numbers Validated Having your numbers reviewed and validated by a qualified accounting firm will greatly aid your sale and valuation. Your buyers or potential lenders will have confidence in your numbers and thus your company as well. Having your numbers confirmed (three or more years prior is recommended) will save you a lot of time and money during your quest for financial backing.    2. Eliminate Excess Cost Showing prudent financial control and maximizing cash-flow can make a big difference to investors. But start doing this well before you seek investment — eliminate excess costs immediately. This kind of responsibility is vitally important to someone loaning you their money. 3. Have Qualified Leadership in Place Company leadership is one of the main of most investors. If you are not going to be there all the time (and really, who can be?), the investor needs to have confidence in those who manning the front in your absence. It’s ideal if your company can grow and flourish without you there. 4. Seek Experienced Legal Counsel Seek lawyers with experience in the field of entrepreneurial deal making. This will vastly help you conduct efficient negotiations. They will be able to help you fight over issues that matter and avoid the ones that don’t. 5. Have a Sales Team This goes with...

Three Ways to Make a Pitch that Excites and Inspires Potential Investors

So you have a great business poised for growth, all you need is growth capital to get to the next level. Raising money, especially in the early stages, can seem almost impossible – in fact, we won’t sugarcoat it, it’s not easy. But with the right pitch strategy and attitude, you could set yourself up for success.   1. Choose Your Audience Wisely It’s easy to blindly set up a bunch of meetings with a slew of venture capital firms, but often times that’s not the best strategy. Yes, there are many venture capital firms looking to deploy money into private enterprise, but pick the ones that best fit you. Maybe your company is scaling on only 10 employees; maybe your company has no employees at all. Either scenario is fine – the key is finding investors that are looking for companies just like yours.   2. Tell a Story When you meet with your potential investor, give them a taste of your ambition. Your enthusiasm is always a plus. The last thing you want to do is give a mouthful of numbers. Do you want to take over the world? That’s fine, just make sure you echo that desire with a plan. Tailor your pitch like an outline to a novel. Take the potential investor through your past and into your planned future.   3. Keep It Simple It’s easy to assume you are making a pitch to industry savvy investors that will have no problem understanding your business model. But remember, you’re the expert in the room. You’re the one who has (most likely) spent years in...

Five Things Investors Look for Before Signing the Cheque

Do you want to attract investors? Why don’t you put yourself in the cheque-holder’s shoes? What would you like to see in a company before signing your cheque? Here’s a list of five things investors will look for before putting up their dollar. 1. Good Financial Performance This one is kind of a no-brainer. Know your numbers better than you know the colour of your shoes. Investors are going to look for evidence of financial stability. They will ask if your company has signs of growth and how you plan to initiate that growth. It’s also a great idea to know your debt repayment plan. Knowing how to take care of your debt is perhaps the most important piece of wisdom you can carry. 2. Background in the Industry Chances are if someone is willing to sign a cheque, they won’t have patience for mistakes or a learning curve. Investors are going to look for someone with a track record and/or proven success. Venture capitalists in particular are going to look for someone they can trust with their money. With that, it’s a good idea to convey your passion and knowledge of the industry. 3. Company or Product Uniqueness What distinguishes you from the competition? Your company needs to offer something unique, and you will need to convey that with clear evidence. Venture capitalists will highlight things such as patents and other proprietary features. 4. An Effective Business Model A company doesn’t really display its strategic value until it starts generating a profit. As such, investors will look for a business model that can prove company growth. Venture capitalists...

Are you using these 5 tactics to make sure your crowdfunding campaign succeeds?

So you’ve finally decided to take the leap into the wicked, wonderful world of business. First of all, congrats! You’ve got a great idea that’s making it difficult to go to sleep. You’ve done the research, talked it over with your confidantes. You may even have a prototype. But I’m sure you quickly realized that an idea is worthless without the means to execute. And today there are more ways than ever to get funding. You’ve probably already talked to friends about helping you out so why not do the next logical thing: ask your internet friends? But why stop there? Many successful entrepreneurs and companies have increasingly turned to the Internet to fund their next great ideas. In an age of increasingly competitive venture funding it’s important to consider other channels to ensure your project can get the financing it needs. And there is something distinctly satisfying about relying on the enthusiasm and support of the people to make your dream into a reality. Like everything else however, the reality of successful crowdfunding is a lot more complicated than the idea of it. However with a good plan (and a bit of luck), you can avoid having a dud on your hands. 1. Pick your platform: Certain platforms require you to raise the entire amount of the pledge for you to keep your money: this ensures people have an incentive to actually donate as opposed to waiting for others to donate. You either raise all of the money you’ve pledged to raise or nothing at all. Indiegogo works differently: you keep all the money you’ve raised. 2. Nothing...

Start Up Tips for Ultimate Success

Only approximately 20% of new businesses succeed during the first five years. Outlined below are 3 helpful tips to make sure that your business thrives. Have a Plan Building a business plan is the first (and most important step) in having a successful company. A business plan has three main purposes: Direction, Vision, and Financing. The direction of the business plan specifies the products and/or services the company will offer. The vision outlines how you see the company evolving over time and setting goals. The business plan also outlines whether or not the company has potential to make profit. This is vital when trying to acquire investors. Build a Knowledgeable Team Build a team of trusted, experienced advisors and team members who can provide support. Find people with solid track records and give them the needed resources in order for them to be successful. Having a supportive team is tremendously motivating. Who is the Audience? Conducting market research is one of the most important factors in having a successful business. If there is no demand for your service or product you are essentially wasting time and resources. By knowing who your target audience is, you can optimize your goals in order to fit that market. By focusing only those who will be interested in your product you will save time and money in the long run. Share...

Small Business Startup Tips

1. Know how to take criticism. Make sure to seek critical feedback so that you can improve your product or service. Knowing what others think are drawbacks or flaws will help you grow your business. Learn from criticism so that you can build a stronger brand. 2. Don’t focus on money. Try to build your brand and get your name out there. Promote it as much as possible to your target audience. A good product or service will find a way to make money. 3. Marketing. Spend money and a lot of time on marketing. This is a key to success when it comes to startups. There are so many ways to market your product/service nowadays. From online advertising to social media. There are so many ways to reach a large population. 4. Don’t Go It Alone. Find a partner who is just as passionate as you about your service/product. Find someone that believes in the company and its purpose. Doing it all alone is stressfull and will cause more harm then good. 5. Stick with it. Don’t give up if you truly think you have a useful product/service. Sometimes things just take...

Tips to Ensure Crowdfunding Success

1. Tell a compelling story – It is important to explain why you are so passionate about your company or project. Investors want to see that you are committed and passionate about what they will be investing in. 2. Communicate – Once you have interested investors make sure to keep lines of communication open. Investors will want to be updated on the progress of the project and and changes to the original plan. 3. Budget – Make sure you have a budget put together about how and why you will spend your money a certain way. Potential investors will want to know how their money is going to be spent. 4. Marketing – Social media plays a crucial role in the success of crowdfunding campaigns. By creating a buzz you will be able to reach investors worldwide. 5. Transparency – Make sure to be fully transparent about the company/idea. Investors will want a great deal of information before handing over money. Make sure you are clear about your goals and what milestones you plan to achieve. 6. Know Your Investors – It is important to know who your demographic or target audience is. If your product/service is geared towards people in their 20s and 30s then social media will be a great asset.   Tweet...

How does crowdfunding benefit our economy?

The OCMX, one of Canada’s first crowdfunding marketplaces based out of Toronto, specializes in connecting relevant advisors, companies, and investors in one online transparent marketplace for leading growth enterprises. Over 35% of the companies listed on the marketplace are technology companies and more than 20% of the ventures listed are owned and/or operated by female entrepreneurs. Alternative financing, versus going to a traditional financial platform, is helping bridge the gender gap and directly accelerating the growth of early stage ventures. With over $20 million raised in 2014 and an expected $100 million to be raised by the end of this year, it is clear that crowdfunding is helping entrepreneurs acquire the necessary funds to jump start their business, while also boosting the Canadian economy which will in turn generate countless jobs. According to the Founder Institute, for every $37, 702 invested, 1 job is created and for every $1 invested in start-ups, $6.36 in revenue is generated. Therefore crowdfunding generates about $3.2 trillion in economic value per year and will create 2 million new jobs by 2020. Share...

Tips for Securing Growth Capital

Getting the venture capital your company needs can be tough especially for startup companies who have just entered the market. Here are a few tips on how to secure growth capital for your company! Have a Good Business Plan This might be the most important factor in securing capital. A business plan essentially tells potential investors what your company is about and why your company is different. Included, should be a plan of how the money will be spent should they decide to fund your company. Having a general idea for the allocation of the funds is important to show the investors what exactly each penny is being used for. A business plan helps your company stand out to potential investors. It shows them what they should expect and it is in essence the deciding factor on whether or not they will write you a cheque. Build a Buzz It’s important to leverage your social media networks in order to spread the word about your product and/or company. Platforms such as Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can help you build abuzz about what you are offering. There are many tools that can be used to optimize these social platforms. Google analytics allows you to analyze your website in order to improve and optimize it. The Art of Pitching It is important to be able to sell your product; convince someone that your product is unlike any other out there. Being a pro at pitching your business (or anything, for that matter) requires practice, practice, and more practice. Potential investors will have some tough questions and you have to be...

Must Know Publicity Tips For Your Start-up

Publicity seems to be either an elusive monster or highly coveted trophy for early stage entrepreneurs. Regardless of your personal view on the matter, learning to leverage publicity to your company’s best advantage could prove to be the ultimate time investment. You’ve probably heard about the importance of social media, press releases and other online promotional activities. Early stage start-ups do not often have money for high-level, traditional publicity campaigns. This is where the beauty of an online universe can work to your brand’s greatest advantage. Hire a Professional It seems fitting to quote Bill Gates in a post about start-up ingenuity. It was he who said, “If I had one dollar left, I’d spend it on publicity.” Word of mouth marketing is still your brand’s strongest advocate. This is at the heart of what a publicist does. Everything your brand says and does is PR. The OCMX platform is a totally transparent marketplace with a unique approach to raising Growth Capital. For companies who use our platform, a well-executed publicity campaign is all part of our strategic approach. Find a Reporter The online world of publicity is fast moving. This created a need for ‘reporter to story’ platforms. Reporters frequent website platforms such as ‘Haro’ to connect directly with new story ideas and story candidates. Both free and paid versions of the service exist, simply sign up for instant alerts. Keep an eye out for relevant story requests that would be of benefit to your business. Respond quickly and you could end up securing brand-changing exposure. Blog Tours You have probably heard about blogging to increase your online...

3 Ways To Use Video To Grow Your Business

It’s time for business owners to understand the real power of video. It can help expand your business in many ways – it gives personality and authenticity to your company, can be used as a recruiting tool, and most importantly it can be used to showcase what you offer. Video can be used to engage potential customers in a way that text and photos cannot. Here are three ways you can utilize video to the fullest in order to grow your business   Video for recruitment Video can also be used for recruiting, as it’s an extremely effective way to assess job candidates. By implementing video into your interview process, you can better gauge the candidates interpersonal skills; far better than a resume. In addition to that, many video interview platforms allow for non real-time interviews to take place, so you can use them to interview your applicants faster than if you were to compare it to traditional phone or face-to-face interviews.   Sharing Customer Testimonials A recommendation from an actual customer has always been an effective way to bring in new business. Hearing other’s speak about positive experience they had with your company can have a larger positive impact on your brand than just reading it in an article. Video testimonials from real customers can have a huge impact on your business; it creates a sense of trust, and it’s a fantastic way to help sell your product/service without actually selling it.   Putting a face to your brand A video is a great way to present your company culture. Whether you’re targeting clients, customers, or even investors,...

3 Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs

It’s not an uncommon for entrepreneurs to think it’s impossible to get the word out about their small business. It’s hard, that’s true – but it’s definitely not impossible. Word of mouth and marketing is essential in the growth of a business. Here are some proven and easy tips and techniques that entrepreneurs can use to get the word out:   Give things away This may sound counterproductive, but many entrepreneurs have grown their businesses by leaps and bounds by giving away their products and/or services. In the long run, this can really pay off. Your problem is that people aren’t getting enough exposure to your product – people are more inclined to try something new if it’s free. These are all people who – if they like your product – can potentially be converted into future customers.   Sponsor an event Many local events are not that expensive to sponsor. If your product and service is a good fit with the audience, you will get exposure every time the event organizer sends out an email and a mention every time they meet. Event attendees often remember and appreciate companies who sponsor their favorite organizations.   Attend or create an event You aren’t just limited to sponsoring events. Frequently attending networking events will greatly increase your chances of getting your brand’s name out there. And if you don’t like any of the events you are attending, invest in your own. Create an event to connect with other young entrepreneurs in the city – you’ll be surprised how fast you can get your company’s name...

4 Tips for Writing a Business Plan

No matter the venture, any entrepreneur should create a strong business plan if they’re looking to get financial backing from any investors. The simple process of outlining how your business will operate can be helpful to ensure that you communicate your vision to potential investors. A business plan is crucial to get support because it shows that you’ve spent time thinking through an idea, and that you aren’t just winging it. Here are four tips that you may find useful when writing a business plan.   Creativity is key Be sure to include a creative element in your business plan so that you stand out from the crowd and grab people’s attention. You can always use a template business plan, but just don’t look too similar to the template. Do something unique and make your business plan your own.   Be realistic You need to be honest with yourself in your business plan. There isn’t any room for embellishing the truth. Stick to the cold hard facts of your business, and consider the challenges and opportunities you face. If you have a good idea, stand behind it.   Don’t be afraid to use visuals If used tastefully, it’s always nice to include some sort of visual in your business plan. Use charts, images, and graphs to bring your concept to life. Plus, it breaks up the wall of text and helps your business plan flow better   Be concise Get rid of all that filler. You should always be as concise as possible and remove any filler jargon from your business plan. It may make your plan sound nice and...

3 Tips for Obtaining Small Business Finance

New business ideas are in no short supply, but finding the proper funding to bring them to life is another story. Small and medium sized businesses often have the lowest loan approval rate, due to the fact that they typically have less of a performance history and very limited resources to grow their business. It all comes down to risk. Small businesses can be a risky proposition to a lender. Here are 4 tips that you can use when obtaining business finance for your small business:   Think long-term If possible, look for the longer term financing options. This will keep repayment costs lower in the short term and give you time and money to invest in your business for the long term.   Credit When trying to get a loan for your small business, your personal credit plays an important role. Because of the risky nature of new business ventures, a lot of consideration goes into the individual and whether they can stand behind these loans if the business doesn’t succeed. No matter the type of financing you choose, you will typically need to personally guarantee most types of financing.   Get some skin in the game Any potential finance partner will want to make sure that you’ve invested a significant amount of money personally before they will offer any additional financing. This shows investors that you stand behind your business, and that you’re personally invested and liable for its future...

3 Tips on Negotiating with Venture Capitalists

Successfully connecting with venture capitalist can be an exciting time for an entrepreneur who’s trying to raise capital for their up and coming start-up, however this now means they’re progressing to the next stage in obtaining their funding: negotiating. Negotiations can be a daunting process, especially for a new entrepreneur who hasn’t gone through the process before. Here are three tips to keep in mind when negotiating with venture capitalists.   Treat the negotiation as a partnership When negotiating with venture capitalists, treating them like a partner will bring about better results than treating them as an adversary. You need to keep the negotiation process friendly, while still being firm with the terms you’re proposing. Reaching an agreement will be easier when you consider that the VC is there to help your company, not take it over.   Have a good lawyer Having good legal representation is always a smart decision when trying to negotiate a deal. Find an attorney who has previous experience handling venture capital funding, and who’s able to point out potential hazards in a deal and suggest how to best handle the negotiation process.   Don’t negotiate when you’re desperate for capital If you’re in dire need for capital, you’re at a real disadvantage at the negotiating table. When you’re desperate for a VCs help, you are more likely to be willing to give up too much in the negotiations, leaving you with a deal that doesn’t benefit your company as well as you’d...

3 Ways to Finance a Start-up

You have a great idea, a catchy name, and the ambition and drive to launch your dream business – but you’re missing the cash. Financing a start-up is an uphill battle, and there’s no secret that it’s getting harder to get funding in the current financial climate. However, just because it’ll be a fight, doesn’t mean your idea isn’t worth fighting for. Here are three ways you can finance your start-up: Credit Cards Yes, people can and often do use credit cards to finance their business in it’s earliest stages, and the reason being is for the immediate access to needed items and cash advances. However when financing your business with credit cards, you need to take into consideration whether or not you can afford to pay off the monthly balance.   Bank Loans This is often thought of as the go-to option for early-stage business financing. Many small businesses are finding success with bank loans, as long as their credit score is good and they can convince the banks that they’ll make a profit and pay their loans back.   Crowdfunding Crowdfunding is a fairly new and increasingly popular option that people are going with to fund new business ideas. Entrepreneurs often use crowdfunding platforms (like Kickstarter and GoFundMe) to raise money from a crowd of individuals. This process often cuts out professional investors and institutions by putting the funding in the hands of regular people. Depending on the appeal and popularity of your idea, crowdfunding is a fantastic method of turning your great idea into a great...

Three Entrepreneurial Priorities

To be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll need to be able to quickly adapt to low-level, day-to-day changes and challenges while also maintaining a big picture philosophy that serves as the foundation for your daily decisions. Without strictly adhering to your most high-level priorities, your entire business strategy runs the risk of falling apart. Here are three fundamental entrepreneurial priorities:   Profit Though it may sound surprising, many entrepreneurs get into the game without any real monetary desires, which there isn’t really anything wrong with. However some people lose sight of the importance of profitability in favour of growing their business. Even the business was started for non-monetary reasons, profitability is still vital in the sustainability of the business; without profit coming in, you’ll be unable to improve the business and invest in its future. Profitability isn’t everything, but it’s certainly an aspect that every entrepreneur needs to consider when pursuing any new venture.   Improvement Constant improvement should be one of your top priorities as an entrepreneur. Consumers, economies, and businesses never stay the same for very long, so you need to ensure that you’re gradually adapting your business. To stay relevant in any market, you need to improve your product and service, keeping it fresh and unique. Only the adaptable can survive the constantly evolving market landscape.   Innovation Innovation should always be first priority, and it must be kept at the forefront of your mind during the entire course of your businesses development; without innovation, there’s nothing to distinguish your business from your competition. Furthermore, innovation doesn’t necessarily require you to come up with an entirely new idea....

Tips for avoiding start-up failure

Are you toying around with the idea of starting a company and worried about all the things that can possibly go wrong? You’re not alone, and you’re definitely not in uncharted waters. There are thousands of entrepreneurs who are working on starting their own company, or who have just launched their own company. Lets talk about some common mistakes made when starting out, and how to avoid using them.   Know your potential One of the biggest mistakes you can make early on is not believing that your business is going to be a big success. This often leads to inadequate planning, and making decisions that are convenient for your current situation, rather than ones that will pay off in the long run. Don’t shortchange yourself – plan big.   Fire fast Don’t let people drag down your business before it even has a chance to really take off. If someone on your team isn’t working out, it’s best to part ways with them sooner rather than later. It may be a hard call to make, but it’s important to have the right people on your team during the infancy of your start-up.   Value experience When recruiting for your start-up, it’s easy to overlook experienced individuals. People often lead toward finding young talent and training them, rather than finding individuals with real experience under their belts. But don’t fool yourself, experience matters. Bringing in seasoned talent is absolutely critical to the success and momentum of a start-up. It may cost a little more, but it’s worth every penny.   Find your niche A common mistake new businesses make is...

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