Steps to Success

Successful companies build the best model possible with the best team, real customers and revenue. Who has seen the rule that the first thing any startup has to do is to write a 60-page business plan? It is not your primary goal when starting a company. Yes, you have to have a good idea of how to proceed but the most value will be built by putting your energy and resources into:

  1. Assembling the best possible team to maximize your success. This includes the professionals you'll need such as lawyers and accountants as well as an advisory board of people who you can both respect and listen to when they tell you you're drifting from the goals for success or you're completely wrong.
  2. Validating your target market. You need to know it better than anyone; who's in it, who is your competition, how is your solution unique.
  3. Developing the value proposition that best addresses the "pain" that your business will solve. Who needs your products and services the most and why. Talk to your customers and let them be part of the solution you provide. If they're involved, they can become your best marketing team.
  4. Developing a financial plan that includes the targets you'll need to meet and the money required for each stage of the model to succeed. It's not the numbers that are important as they will always change. It's the logic and intelligence behind the numbers. Again it's the team and the market that are the most important aspects of your company.

The Elevator Pitch
One of the hardest things you'll do is to develop an elevator pitch that everyone in your organization can use every time they get the opportunity. Everyone must be prepared when they get the inevitable question: "What do you do?" They have 60 seconds to set your company apart from everyone else and make the listener want to hear more. Even if the recipient of the pitch is not highly placed in their organization, you never know whom they'll talk to.

The Executive Summary
Never is the advice that "you only get one chance to make a first impression" more important than when you approach a possible funding source to convince them of the value of your model. The goal of the summary is not to convince anyone to invest in the company but to give someone (investor, possible partner or employee) enough information that they want to learn more to see if this is a viable investment for their time and resources. Most are usually going to make a decision within the first few sentences so the initial impression you make is critical. They also probably know more about your market space than you do if you've done your homework well. Targeting only the very best funding or relationship partners is critical. If you have the right message and model, getting these relationships is easier. Getting the "best" money and resources is the key.

Components of a 2 page executive summary:

  • Grab their attention with a powerful opening
  • Clearly define the value proposition and the unique characteristics of the company.
  • Show that there is a big enough customer demand to develop a large profitable company in a large market
  • Tell a bit about the technical expertise - patents and IP that create barriers to competition and increases your value. - Remember- your audience probably knows more about this space than you do so be brief.
  • Describe the key personnel and why they are the best qualified for their positions.
  • Tell how and when your investors will make money.

Before submitting your executive summary, check out this great example, reviewed by Rob Ryan of Entrepreneur America.

If you want to pursue this course, contact me to discuss ways to increase your chances of success.

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