Can Your Startup Flourish Despite Business Chaos?

Every startup founder I know talks about the chaos of their business, which they usually attribute to that burst of growth that is required to get to positive cash flow. They envision a stable environment after that point, and may have convinced themselves that they will be safer and happier with a livable income, maintaining a loyal but flat customer base.

Sadly, this false perception often leads to the death of their business, or at least the end of their tenure as CEO. I “second the message” that chaos never subsides, from a couple of successful entrepreneurs, Clate Mask and Scott Martineau, in their book “Conquer the Chaos.” Your only choice is to live with it, and find a way to conquer it. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
February 16th, 2014

Is it possible for an idea to be funded by a VC?

While anything is technically possible, the reality is that venture capital firms do not fund “ideas”. There are many wonderful ideas, and even many people having the same idea in the market at any given time. So what VCs fund is execution. Indeed, VCs only invest in one out of every 400 fully-formed companies that approach them for funding…let alone someone with a “startup idea”. Read more

What are five tough questions that every founder should be prepared to answer in a pitch to VC’s?

How will you make money (and no, advertising is not the answer)?
Who, specifically, is your first customer? Second? Third?
What is your contingency plan for when this seed round is exhausted, and you are unable to raise any more?
What is your API/platform/partnership strategy?
How are you going to sell the company, and to whom, within six years?

 

Pick The Entrepreneur Lifestyle Alternative For You

You are an aspiring entrepreneur, eager to dump the corporate grind, and work to the beat of your own drummer, but you can’t come up with that killer idea to save the world. What are the alternatives that will give you the independence you crave, and challenge your business acumen?

Technically, I believe an entrepreneur is anyone who manages his own profit and loss, and doesn’t meet the government tax definition of an employee. Beyond the traditional new product or service model, you can always buy an existing business, purchase a franchise, join a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, or simply go out on your own as a consultant. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
February 9th, 2014

Are there any crowd funding options for tech start-ups not tied to just supporting projects?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has very strict rules about who can raise investment funds for privately held businesses, and how they are allowed to go about doing it.  At the moment, this is primarily limited to raising money from very rich people who qualify as Accredited Investors, and with whom you already have a pre-existing relationship. Read more

Are balance sheets or profit and loss statements necessary to produce for early stage startups with no revenue?

Investors absolutely need to know the specific financial status of a company before they invest, because they are going to be part owners of the business. How much would you be willing pay someone to take over their bank account if you had no idea how much was in it?

So yes, it is absolutely standard practice for investors to require both existing financials that document the current state of the company into which they are investing, as well as projected financial statements giving them some idea of what you believe you will be able to make, and what you believe it will cost, if they invest. Read more

Entrepreneurs Need Experience More Than An MBA

I don’t have an MBA. I used to fear that this would put me at a disadvantage in starting my own company, but now I’m convinced that it may be the other way around. In some reputable surveys, as many as two-thirds of entrepreneurs felt that their entrepreneurial spirit was more ingrained than learned, so a specific education level is at least irrelevant.

For business professionals who aspire to an executive position in a large company, most people agree that an MBA is always positive. It will get you a higher starting salary, and a valuable edge in your credentials at every promotion opportunity. In fact, BusinessWeek reports that roughly 40 percent of the S&P 500 chief executives have MBAs in any given year. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
February 2nd, 2014