An Investment

As I look back over the things I’ve done and learned while starting and building a business, there’s something I realized I’ve overlooked.  I’ve ignored it or gave little thought to it and it’s surprising because this — I firmly believe — is the key to success.  I’ve talked and written about what the keys are to success.  I’ve argued there weren’t really any “keys”, but an adopted mindset and attitude.  I’ve read numerous articles about what successful people have in common with one another.  I’ve read those articles about the mindsets and patterns of millionaires.  Not just because they’re millionaires, but because they must be doing something right in order to have become millionaires.  Right?  But in between the chatter and the musings and the research, what makes the business owner successful, what makes the entrepreneur a millionaire and what gets the start-up founder funded?  A great marketing strategy?  A knowledgeable board of directors?  Deep-pocketed venture capitalists?  The best idea ever?

No.

It’s the investment.  The investment you make in yourself everyday.   You don’t have to have a whole lot of education, a whole lot of money to start, a whole lot of friends, or whole lot of anything .  You do need to have the time to invest in yourself and seek out investments that will return for you.  I mean, yeah, that may mean getting more education or building up a larger network.  But it really boils down to being better than you were yesterday.  It’s taking the time and looking at what you have offer and making sure you can offer it as best you can.  Outperform yourself.

I’ve tried taking on multiple projects and services thinking that the more I offered, the more clients I’ll gain because the more people I’ll appeal to.  Did NOT happen.  One, it’s hard to spread yourself thin and still be the go-to person for 5,000 things.  Two, I wasn’t equally interested or passionate about everything I was trying to offer.  Thus, many services lacked luster.  Just because I could do it, doesn’t mean I should’ve.  And vice-versa.  It was when I narrowed down what I could offer and would be willing to offer to just 3-5 services and sharpen those skills over and over again, that I noticed myself getting referrals, getting recommended — getting the kind of running start I wanted.  Not because I was trying to be everything to everybody. But, because I invested in myself first.  That, allowed me to better for my clients and it’s paid and continues to pay off.

How do I invest in myself?

  • I sign up for community classes that are of interest to my business and professional goals
  • I take community college classes 
  • I periodically attending networking events
  • I explore the businesses in my community 
  • I talk to other business and aspiring business owners
  • I read — a lot– of articles, magazines, books, blogs, any thing that strikes my fancy
  • I search jobs on Craig’s List to see what employers (business owners) are looking for in candidates who do what I do
  • I take some of those free classes on Coursea, Standford Online or Venture Lab

It’s seems never-ending, which is why it’s something I have to be passionate about.  Because if I wasn’t, I couldn’t do it.  And what would be the point?

Pros & Cons Of Investment Capital

Pro: Access to capital to launch/ grow your business

Con: Now having a partner in which decisions must be shared and/ or made with

Pro: Someone with experience and knowledge to help guide you

Con: Someone constantly reminding you about profits, getting their money back, their  ROI

Pro: Avoiding the scrutinizing process of a bank loan

Con: Creating the perfect pitch to get an investor interested in your business or idea

Pro: Finally manifesting your business dream into a reality

Con: Not letting your business develop and grow at its own organic pace but at the speed of the investor(s)

Pro: Finding someone or of few people who believe in your business/ dream enough to financially back you

Con: Having to share/ explain your progress thus far and all activity related to the business to grab their interest

Pro: The track record of your investor(s) and likelihood of your business’ success

Con: No guarantees that your business will be successful even with backed support and added experience

Pro: There are people out there looking for businesses and business ideas such as yours to invest in

Con: There are more people looking for investment capital than are looking for investments

Pro: Additional resources through your investor(s) such as contacts, people they know to push your business/ idea/ product through

Con: Sharing the success but taking full responsibility for the failures of the business

 

Is seeking an investor something you’ve considered in launching or growing you business?  Have you thought about why you want an investor and what it would mean to your business?  Can you make that commitment to someone else and yourself?  Have you tried to bootstrap and still found yourself needing more money?  Is investment capital a pro or a con to you?

 

The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to fund you idea or business dream, yes, the bird is the word.  Okay, maybe not literally, but if you haven’t been following along to the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Bill that is making its way through the Senate,  you are missing out on a wealth of information for your benefit!  Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub and other crowd-funding sources will soon be allowed to open their doors to a plethora of small business ideas.  Consider yourself in the know.  And now that you know about another capital opportunity you can tap into, let’s talk about how that all works.

Let’s look at Kickstarter for a second, it’s one of the most well-known ones out there.  Yes, this crow-funding platform allows you to set up an account for whatever project you want to see come to fruition and asks total strangers to donate their money via the internet (a little less stressful than pitching to a venture capitalist, am I right?)  Before you jump for joy, there are some guidelines you must follow to be approved and to actually get the funds you need.

1) Please know that whatever the asking amount for your project, soon-to-be business venture, Kickstarter will take a 10% cut.  Why?  Well, it’s how they make their money.  What does this mean for the rest of us looking for crowd-funds?  Calculate that 10% “fee” into your asking price.

2) If you do not get all the money you’ve requested by the time you’ve asked for it (because you are required to set a time limit), whatever you’ve collected thus far is returned to the donors.  Which simply means, there is no such things as partial crowd-funding.  You raise it all or get nothing.

3) In return for their donations, you must offer your donors something of value.  And the more they give, the higher the value you return to them.  First-borns and minted baseball cards are not on the list, so don’t worry.  This is where you, the entrepreneur have to be creative (again).

  • Examples:  Well, I’ve seen crowd-funding for a television concept in where the creators behind it offered everyone that funded the pilot credit in the show.  Those that gave more received a signed copy of the script from the cast and crew as well as the show credit.  Those that gave even more would receive a copy of the pilot once it was completed in addition to credit and a signed copy of the script.  Needless to say, the project was successfully funded and has come to a completion.

4) It helps, extremely so, if you show the progress of your venture or project along the way with videos or photos so your donors can see you’re actually using the money, their money, as described.  If you don’t have a YouTube or Vimeo account to upload those videos, get one pronto!

Crowd-funding is a great cutting-edge idea that will allow so many prospect ventures to take those leaps forward into reality.  It’s easy to set up, but the real work comes into play with raising the funds.  You have to be creative, engaging and captivating .  Don’t let the economy discourage you, because obviously money is out there, you just have to know how to seize it.

Carpe Diem!