Advice & Tips (24)

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A surprisingly common myth about crowdfunding is that once you make your project live, affluent beneficiaries will come flocking to fund your idea. In reality, it takes strategy and foresight to seek out the crowds that will be interested and passionate about your cause, and time invested in building that online community, before your campaign launches.

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The most successful entrepreneurs have faced the same challenges that startups are grappling with today.

There are lessons learned that can help anyone who is starting a business.

Here, we offer a dozen of the best business tips from the entrepreneurs behind the big ideas, from picking a market to executing on your idea, plus how to determine whether you're really creating a viable business.

Spanx Inventor and Founder Sara Blakely
"Don't be afraid to fail. My dad encouraged us to fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. "

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 00:00

How to write a great business plan

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Often entrepreneurs don’t get round to writing their business plan until the last minute or when they are trying to secure startup funding. But the fact is that your business plan is even more than a document just for the bank manager to look at, or for potential investors to read, it’s your invaluable roadmap to launch and run your business and formalise goals and strategies to grow it.


To get your business plan down on paper you are going to be conducting research and think through many factors to ensure has a chance of success. Some of the things that are going to be included will be detail’s of your marketing strategy, and layout of your sales and operational forecasts, having the right plan will not only help you identify any weaknesses opportunities and threats but allow you to make informed decisions about you business venture before you have fully committed yourself financially and legally.


With the right plan in place you will be able to show your potential investors how they are going to make money. Most investors will intend to sell their shares for a good return, this is the Exit strategy. The most common route for a successful company is either through publicly listing your company, called going public or initial public offering (IPO) or through a merger or acquisition (M&A) by another company.


If you’re creating a business plan involving a loan, then lenders will want something configured slightly different. They will be looking for detailing collateral or assets to back or pledge against the loan Collateral includes funds to support loan payments, interest expenses, and debt repayments. Banks are not allowed to make speculative loans, therefore you will have to include information in the plan that will give your banker security.

Furthermore, your business plan can also be useful if you plan to do business overseas. If your business or service coverage is international, then your business plan will provide a standard means to evaluate your service or products in an international marketplace.

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The world of startup investing is expectedly different from investing in the public market, and there is one question I get regularly from new angel investors who want to diversify their portfolio. While most startups won’t achieve Facebook or Dropbox returns (62,000% and 39,000% ROI, respectively), a long-term investment of 5-8 years in the right startup could produce higher returns than any other asset. Arguably, one of the most attractive components about buying equity in early-stage startups is the uncorrelated attribute it provides, which is what financial advisors often emphasize- the importance of diversification and uncorrelated returns in a well-balanced portfolio.

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Boosting your startups brand and services are very important, social media has become an great way to do this buy building up fans, followers and word of mouth direct content and information distribution. Some of the popular types of media are Twitter, Pintrest, Face book and Linkedin. There are optimal times to post on social media sites and there are times when you don’t want to post. If you post or share at certain times, your post won’t be seen, no matter how many followers or friends that you have. So, when is the best time to post on social media networks? There’s a great infographic out that details all of this for you.

So, basically, if you plan your day right, and you are doing any posting and promoting of items that you want to get seen, then this is how your day should look:

7:00am post to LinkedIn
9:00am post to Google +
1:00pm post to Facebook
2:00pm post to Twitter
3:00pm post to Pinterest

Sunday, 09 March 2014 00:00

5 questions for startups before diving into PR

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Startups and entrepreneurs often look towards bloggers and journalists to raise attention and make some noise around ther brand, product or services. Usually this is achieves through a PR agency or themselves directly going to media sources to pitch their business. Unfortunately many of these startup pitches and “how we set up” stories fall down and get ignored, wasting time and money for everyone. For example, here’s a pitch from a PR professional. I’ve changed it slightly to avoid embarrassing anyone: “I’m working with a wonderful new business… The owners grew up together and decided to go into business… it’s a story I’m sure your readers will care a lot about!” Uh, no. It's unlikely that people are going to care about this story Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the entrepreneurs are great people, but many entrepreneurs can tell a tale of struggle and euphoria and heartbreak and someday, against all odds, turning their dreams into reality and making their business a success. While occasionally readers might be inspired or motivated, for the most part we’re just not that interested in other people’s stories. Unless those stories are particularly remarkable we're more apt to just keep living our own dreams and writing our own stories. So, the things we're interested in is not other people's stories, but information that helps us write our own.

So what should you do if you’re trying to spread the word about new products and services, landing new customers, bringing investors onboard… all the stuff you hire PR agencies to do for you or, more likely, try to do on your own?

If you’re looking for press, forget the formulaic, cookbook approach to crafting a winning media pitch. That approach may result in coverage in a few outlets… but not the ones you really want. Here are 5 key questions you should answer before you take the plunge with your PR.

01 What do you actually want to achieve?

It seems obvious, but it’s easy to get swept away by the first flush of column inches. It’s not enough just to want “to get a piece in the latest startups site or magazine. Do you need to attract investors? Do you need key hires? Do you need a quick increase in user numbers? Set you key objectives you hope to get from any exposure before you do anything else. From here it’ll be much easier to brief anyone else correctly.


 

02 What’s your timeline?

Getting scattergun press coverage around product launch is great, but it can be really difficult to follow up. I see many companies enjoy an initial spike of interest and then drop completely off the radar in those critical following months. Think about your product timeline, and consider how you want to knit a full communications strategy into that plan.


 

03 What’s your budget?

Have an idea of what you are willing to spend, considering the factors above. Whether that’s an external agency fee, human-hours within your company or a completely new hire. If you’re going with an external agency, then look for ones that don’t just offer standard retainers, but also ones that are willing to offer project-based work. That way, you can see how they perform around a single task. Also realise that it will involve a spend to do this properly. Communications and marketing should be built into your budget and not just added as an afterthought once your product is market-ready, especially if you’re a B2C product.


 

04 What’s your story?

What three words describe your company values? Would all your team give the same answer? Spend half a day internally nailing down your core qualities. From there, it’s much easier to begin working on the rest of your communications. What’s your context, what do you do differently? What voices can you add to a discussion in your market? What’s your story? And who are you telling it to? This is where the fresh pairs of eyes at an agency can give a new perspective. Ask an agency for a handful of ideas in their pitch. At the very least it will demonstrate that they “get” what you’re doing and you can gauge their creative fit.


 

05 Who else is doing this well?

Which companies in your space are succeeding at this?And why? And do you have a robust angle or statement as to why you are different? Journalists like to have a product placed in context but also the justification as to why you’re offering something different to the market.

 

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 21:44

10 Tips for Making Your Startup A Success Part 1

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Every entrepreneur and would be startup will remember in 2013 when Yahoo snapped up Tumblr for US$1.1Billion, and the story of its founder, entrepreneur David Karp. At only the age of 27, Karp is estimated to have received around US$220 million from the deal. So how did Karp actually get set up in the first place, although he eventually raised capital through venture funding, Karp launched his hugely successful social blogging platform from a simple idea. His inspirational story paves the way for many young visionary dreaming about launching their own startup business and the next big idea in the market. Here are 10 tips from the business blogging community for creating the next big startup success story, from a simple idea:

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A startups success is measured by the ability to drive customer acquisition growth.  Of course many startups are doomed to failure and can’t grow because they never reach product/market fit or have a clear strategy to market their product or business   But even with product/market fit, traction is tough. Startups are under extreme resource constraints and need to figure out how to break through the noise to let their target customers know they have a superior solution for a critical problem. Here in part 2 of our tips for struggling start-ups we provide more details of what things you can do to help set up a solid marketing plan

Thursday, 27 February 2014 22:41

fundedflow: Top 10 crowdfunding platforms for startups

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If you are a struggling for financing or just need some extra cash to start funding your exciting new business or creative new project, you have come to the right place. Banks are becoming increasingly tighter on lending and venture capital is hard to raise, especially if you’re not a whiz-kid with a new app based in Silicone Valley. However all is not lost due to the latest forms of fundraising from crowdfunding platforms just like fundedflow. Crowdfunding is a quick way to transform a small start or SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) into a full firing operational business. Also known as "social funding" or "crowdsource" which has evolved and helped redefine how new businesses and startups raise money and grow. Crowdfunding platforms also help benefit individual investors who can learn about new talent and startup companys who they can invest in. Usually investors or donors receive a small reward or “give back” in return for the investment or donation.

Here are fundedflows Top 10 choices for crowdfunding platforms

Monday, 24 February 2014 00:00

10 Marketing Tips for Struggling Startups - Part 1

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Every business needs a marketing plan, whether a huge corporation or a simple one man band startup. That means you!

These 10 steps will be covered in three parts and will help provide the basic outline of what you need to do and how to prepare. Marketing plans are similar to your business plan and will help you keep focused and make decisions on how and where to resource and manage your channels. Having a marketing plan will not be a definite answer to success but will provide you with a better chance to achieve your objectives and ultimately accomplish the goal. Through the plan you will be able to work through checkpoints and deadlines that will allow you to track in detail when and how to action marketing activities, test, optimise and fine-tune until your plan is generating the most desired results. This is one of the most important factors as it will raise your success rate and ROI (return on investment). The research and effort you put into your plan will also provide you with valuable industry and business insight into your marketplace.

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