I was recently crusing the Inc.com website when I ran across an interesting article that I thought was worth sharing. The article -- The $4 Million Complaint Call -- was written by Ron Burley, founder of Broadcast Software International, a technology startup. Ron's company specializes in the development of digital audio and automation software for broadcast radio stations. Four years after founding his company, he had grown it to 16 employees with a customer base spread across 40 countries around the globe. However, Broadcast Software was at a crossroads in its life -- Ron could no longer afford to fund the company's growth by himself, and it desperately needed an infusion of outside capital. Unfortunately, investment in technology companies had dried up, and there was no outside capital to be found anywhere. If something didn't change, and soon, the company would likely collapse.... Read More
I just read an article in the local newspaper about a pair of entrepreneurs who have tried just about everything they could think of to fund their young business: Fiji Yogurt, a frozen yogurt franchise with four company-owned stores and one new franchisee. While the traditional sources of capital were tried -- and offered limited results -- twin brothers Cory and Kyle Miholich stumbled on a non-traditional source of funding for their business that was actually pretty effective: The Wheel of Fortune television game show. While the business partners can't yet reveal exactly how much money they made for their business because the show hasn't yet aired, according to Kyle, "We had a chance to win a million dollars, which we blew. Actually, my brother blew it on the first puzzle. But we were able to walk away with a decent chunk of change.”... Read More
In my last post I asked if you were ready for investor money. I'm sure some of you said, "Absolutely! Bring it on!" However, if you honestly answered the questions in that post, you know that taking other people's money is serious business. And it also doesn't happen overnight. So how do you find investors who might want to help you out? It starts with some detective work on your part to learn where investors congregate. This is important because investors aren't always easy to spot--they don't exactly put a sign on themselves so entrepreneurs can find them. In fact, it's quite the opposite; they usually rely on their own network to supply them with leads on potential new business investments.... Read More
We all love a good story--a great plot, compelling characters, a challenge that the protagonist has to overcome, and an ending that makes us feel satisfied. Stories serve many purposes--to explain, to entertain, to inspire--but for entrepreneurs stories help to craft an identity that gives the new venture legitimacy in the eyes of investors, competitors, partners, and customers. What I mean by this is that for entrepreneurs to secure the resources they need to launch and successfully operate their businesses, they have to be viewed as legitimate members of the business community and that doesn't happen easily.... Read More
Recently Peter posted an interesting piece on Mark Cuban's solution to stimulating the economy. While I agree in principle that entrepreneurship is the way to make things happen, one could question Cuban's motives in his approach. Actually last night one of USC's great grad students did question those motives, so I'm sharing his thoughts in my post.... Read More
Last week Mark Cuban -- the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team -- announced an interesting new approach to stimulating the U.S. economy: an open source funding environment that he would fund with his own money. Says Cuban, "Rather than trying to be a Venture Capitalist, I was looking for an idea that hopefully could inspire people to create businesses that could quickly become self funding. Businesses that just needed a jump start to get the ball rolling and create jobs. I'm a big believer that entrepreneurs will lead us out of this mess. I just needed a way to help." Here's how it works: Simply post your business plan on Cuban's blog, and he will personally consider it for funding. There is no minimum and no maximum funding limit, and with a couple billion dollars in the bank, Mark can clearly afford some serious funding.... Read More
Today one of my clients and I drove up to Riverside, California so I could do some research for a project we're working on. On the way through town, we passed numerous empty houses with uncut grass and empty rooms -- and For Sale signs posted out front. Some of the signs had an added note: Bank Owned. California's Inland Empire -- the inland area of Southern California surrounding the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino -- was booming just a few years ago. Today it's a bust. According to an article in today's New York Times, the area's unemployment rate is hovering at 9.5 percent and 350,000 homes have gone into foreclosure -- with a local population of about 4.3 million people, that translates into one out of every three homes.
However, among all these dark clouds silver linings are starting to appear.... Read More
Over the past few days I've had a couple of conversations with colleagues that have crystallized a recent change in my personal business philosophy. My own business of writing books and consulting for aspiring authors is very cyclical -- most of my business comes from referrals from happy clients, and I never know when a new customer is going to walk through the door. When business is tight, I automatically go into austerity mode -- I don't spend a dime on my business unless I absolutely have to. But when I've got LOTS of business, that's when I typically go into spending mode -- buying new computers, monitors, software, printers, and the other things I need to upgrade my office.
However, that's all changed.... Read More
The other day I sat in on an angel investor screening where two entrepreneurs were pitching their businesses for capital. If you ever get the opportunity to do that you should, because it’s a great learning experience. As many times as I’ve heard people pitch their businesses and as many times as I’ve coached people in their preparation to pitch, I always either learned something new or reminded myself of something I had forgotten. This session was an eye opener.