Tag Archive:venture capital

ByCarolyn Keane

An Essential 9-Point Checklist for any Entrepreneur Looking to Sell an Online Business

An Essential 9-Point Checklist for any Entrepreneur Looking to Sell an Online Business

Image credit: SanneBerg | Getty Images
There are many reasons why an entrepreneur ultimately decides to exit a business. Some of the best incentives? Moving on to new opportunities; recapitalization; and, perhaps best of all, an especially lucrative buyout offer.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Business

No matter what the reason, if you’re the one moving on, take the necessary steps to extract the maximum value possible from your sale. With all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into building your business, don’t let yourself be shortchanged on the way out.

Here are nine actionable steps you can take to better prepare your business to be sold to a discerning buyer, along with suggested resources to help you accomplish them.

1. Detailed financials

Having strong accounting principles in place, from the beginning, will help put you in a position to succeed.

Industry stalwart Quickbooks provides you with all the tools you need to track your financials and generate detailed reports. It makes the process easy, too — Quickbooks automatically syncs with most bank accounts– drastically cutting down on data entry.

2. Verified traffic

Google Analytics is an indispensable tool for monitoring and verifying your website traffic. It’s the first step to knowing who your prospects are, what they want, where they’re coming from and how far they’ve gotten through your conversion funnel. If you have a website and haven’t set up Google Analytics, stop whatever else you’re working on and do it now.

Being able to show verified traffic to a buyer, over as long a time frame as possible, will greatly enhance the salability of your business.

3. Stand-alone branding

Building a brand strongly tethered to a founder’s persona might feel right when you first start. But if that brand becomes successful, it’s preferable that the messaging not be too closely tied to its founder. That can actually become an obstacle when it’s time to sell, particularly if the founder is to have no ongoing role in the business after the exit.

Related: Time to Sell Your Business? You’ll Need Metrics.

Consider building a stand-alone brand right from the get-go. Your brand should be aligned with your values and your company’s core mission. A smart branding strategy can help you achieve those aims without the founder being the “face” of the business.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for building a brand. But it’s more important than ever.

Branding guru David Lemley’s Retail Voodoo site, while not specifically geared toward online businesses, is a great resource for learning more about the importance of branding strategy and its potential ROI.

4. Keyword analysis

Knowing what keywords your prospects are searching for can help you, and any potential buyer, assess whether your site is built on a solid search engine optimization (SEO) foundation.

To find out what keywords your site should be targeting, use tools like SEMrush to uncover which organic and paid keywords drive traffic to your competitors. The Google Keyword Tool enables you to get the most accurate search volume and PPC (price per click) data for those keywords.

A site that ranks high in search engine result page (SERP) listings on relevant keywords will earn a higher valuation. Prospective buyers can be assured that their acquisition target is ahead of the game for organic traffic and has a clear marketing strategy for both free and paid clicks.

5. Content marketing

ROI in content marketing has a reputation for being slippery to measure. Despite this, content is the foundation of SEO. Having a proven content marketing strategy, with positive search traffic results to back it up, can measurably increase the value of your business.

Content marketing isn’t just about your blog. It applies to many channels: social media, product descriptions, guest posts, Youtube videos, etc. Anything content-related that drives traffic to your site and promotes lead conversion fits under this umbrella.

Once upon a time, all you needed for a solid SEO strategy was to stuff your site with keywords. Google is much too smart for that now, as are your customers. There’s simply no substitute for quality content. Deploy it, using a coherent strategy for improving your search rankings. Your bottom line, and your valuation, will grow.

6. Outsourcing

Outsourcing is an important element in fostering limited owner involvement — a key factor buyers look for in any online business acquisition. While building the right remote team takes work, having it in place, and having your standard operating procedures (SOPs) well documented, will greatly improve the salability of your business.

While there are many options for outsourcing, often industry-specific ones, two of the most reputable companies remain Upwork and Toptal.

7. Legal

Make sure you have clear and verifiable rights to all of your intellectual property. This includes any trademarks, copyrights or patents your business might hold. These can be an invaluable asset to your company, and any serious buyer will want to ensure that these are owned (and thus able to be sold) free and clear.

Additionally, make sure to get non-disclosure-agreements (NDA) in place with anyone you enter into negotiations with. Do this before you start talking seriously — and certainly before you reveal any sensitive information, financial or otherwise.

An option here is offshoring, or outsourcing of legal assistance, through legal process outsourcing (LPO). For relatively simple tasks, such as forming an LLC or S-Corp or running a trademark search, LegalZoom may be another viable option.

When it comes to something as important as protecting your IP, however, always employ our own counsel.

8. Know your value.

After you’ve taken all of the steps above, you or a qualified professional should be in a very good position to assess the true value of your business. There are industry standard-valuation methods for this: Typically the seller discretionary earnings (SDE) model is used to value a business worth under $5 million, while “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization” (EBITDA) is used for companies valued over that amount.

9. Know your buyer.

One of the many reasons to consider approaching an M&A advisor to help with the sale of your business is that he or she will have already done the due diligence required to vet qualified buyers. These professionals will entertain offers only from candidates who have met stringent criteria. If you elect to go it alone, all of this responsibility falls on you, the seller.

Related: Expert Advice to Help You Prepare to Sell Your Business

Final thoughts

Building a successful business, and growing it to the point where it might attract attention from a buyer, is no small feat. Neither is coming to the decision that it’s time to move on. You may be ready to take your foot off the gas on this particular vehicle, but don’t stop before crossing the finish line. Follow the steps outlined above to ensure you get the maximum possible return when selling your online business.

 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304690?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email

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ByCarolyn Keane

Early Stage Capital For Entrepreneurs

WHEN:
March 30, 2017 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
WHERE:
Venture Hive
1010 NE 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33132
USA

Most high growth start-ups are fueled by capital – product development, staffing, go-to market. There are many avenues for raising capital and an increasing number of unique investment models available for entrepreneurs to pursue.
Listen to a panel discussion featuring 4 professional investors in early stage businesses. Hear what models they use to invest in, support, and help grow the companies they work with. What financing models and structures are available to entrepreneurs? What criteria to does each investor look for in transaction? What are the best ways to engage with sources of outside capital?

Seating will be limited to 70, so please register early to reserve your spot. Agenda as follows:

  • 6-7pm: Networking
  • 7-8:30pm: Panel discussion/program
    • 7-8pm: Moderator questions for the panel
    • 8-8:30pm: Q&A from the audience
  • 8:30-9pm: Networking
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ByCarolyn Keane

We Fact-Checked Seven Seasons Of Shark Tank Deals. Here Are The Results.

We Fact-Checked Seven Seasons Of Shark Tank Deals. Here Are The Results.
Emily Canal  

FORBES STAFF 

On Shark Tank, the deal you make on camera often isn’t the deal you end up getting — if it happens at all.

How many Sharks invest

How many Sharks invest

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The hit ABC show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch celebrity investors depicts some business owners walking away with life-changing deals. But more often than not, those hand-shake agreements change or fall apart after taping.

FORBES found that 319 businesses accepted deals on-air in the first seven seasons of Shark Tank. We spoke to 237 of those business owners and discovered 72% did not get the exact deal they made on TV. But tweaked terms or dead deals don’t necessarily spell doom for a business; for many contestants we spoke to, the publicity of appearing on the show ended up being worth more than the deal.

Shark Tank New Data

Shark Tank New Dat: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff

About 43% of the people we spoke with said their deals didn’t come to fruition after the show. They attributed this to sharks pulling out of the agreement or changing the terms to ones that didn’t work for them. Others canceled deals after getting term sheets that included unappealing clauses. And occasionally the deals ended amicably.

 

Another 29% of the people FORBES interviewed said the equity and investment amount offered on-air changed after taping — but they chose to take the deal anyway. They said that the changes often occur during negotiations or in due diligence, an investigation into a person or business before signing a contract.

Although our analysis was not exhaustive (FORBES was able to interview 74% of contestants who got deals on camera), the numbers suggest that some investors are less likely to change their deals after the cameras stop rolling. Mark Cuban, who by our count closes more deals than any other shark, changed the agreements he made on-air change only 12% of the time.

SharkTank Solo Deals

Design: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff

ABC is transparent about the due diligence process and isn’t accountable for how deals pan out during negotiations. ABC did not return requests for comment by time of publishing.

We contacted as many of the 319 businesses as possible, but some refused to share how and if their deals evolved, and others simply did not respond. While the results aren’t comprehensive, this is the most complete record of how often deals change after taping and why that occurs.

The goal of entrepreneurs going on Shark Tank is to make a deal and see it close. But if it falls apart, it’s not always a tragedy. About 87% of the businesses we spoke to that didn’t get deals are still operating. The remainder have shuttered, were acquired or sold.

Matt Canepa and Pat Pezet appeared on season four of Shark Tank to pitch their company Grinds, which sells chewable coffee pouches. They agreed to give Daymond John and Robert Herjavec 15% equity for $75,000. However, the deal died in negotiations.

“Pat and I went on the show 100% wanting to get a deal,” Canepa said. “Regardless of whether or not you get the deal, there are a lot of success stories.”Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff

The Shark Effect

In 2012, before their episode aired, Grinds made about $300,000 in sales. The month their segment premiered, the company saw $330,000 in sales.

Grinds brought in $1.35 million the year their episode aired, and have watched that number rise. This year, they are expecting do over $4 million.

Grinds isn’t alone. Nicholas and Alessia Galekovic, cofounders of the grooming accessories company Beard King, made an agreement with Lori Greiner during season seven last year. But around the time they filmed their episode, business took off, and the deal no longer met the needs of the company.

 

Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff

The agreement broke down in negotiations. But in the year after the episode aired, the company did around $700,000 in sales. This year, they are expecting over $1.6 million.

“I think that [Shark Tank is] absolutely amazing,” Nicholas said. “For anyone considering trying out or going for it: It’s well worth it.”

The Shark Effect SharkTank Solo Deals

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ByCarolyn Keane

3 TV Shows to Pitch to

Adventure Capitalists

We were invited to participate last season and now the show is a huge success. It is a great premise, 3 venture capitalist personally product test new outdoor adventure products. Talk about Shark Tank, last season they tested a new shark repellent device in the ocean with school of real mean looking sharks, giving new meaning to the term “wetsuit” for one of the capitalists. These guys are crazy and a lot of fun. Check out the show here http://cnb.cx/2eezoKK

They are looking for all types of outdoor products including but not limited to; camping, hiking, adventure, recreation, outdoor transportation, off roading, renewable energy, survival, etc. I suggest you watch the show and present accordingly. Here is the link to apply www.AdventureCapitalists.com   

Harry Wants Women

What a dream come true for the right women, Harry Connick Jr. is looking for women inventors with a great story to tell for his new daytime talk show. This is great exposure! Here is a link to the talent search http://bit.ly/2ddYLZb and here is a link to the show’s website https://www.harryconnickjr.com/

Dave Yonce Show

Below is the information they sent me about the show. Unlike most product hunts, shows are looking more for personality. Their guide lines are an education in themselves that everyone should read.

Asylum Entertainment and a major cable television network known for its loud, creative content is on the hunt for American entrepreneurs with well-developed concepts or prototypes for new inventions. To be considered, the invention must solve a problem, make a job more efficient, or make life more fun. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, electronics, weapons, outdoor recreation, adventure, home products, automotive, and power tools.

If selected to appear on the program, Oklahoma-raised inventor and entrepreneur, Dave Yonce, will invest money and time into you and your product, developing it into a working prototype, and in some cases, partnering with you to build your business.

For more information, email:  Casting@tikicasting.com.

Thank you in advance!

Kristina Hauser
Casting Director 

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Inventors’s Dilemma: Drafting Your Own Patent Application When You Lack Funds

By Gene Quinn
October 22, 2016

financial crisis dollar on a white backgroundFrequently inventors are faced with a dilemma that is all too common for entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, most will bootstrap a project, whether it is an invention or start-up. That means long hours working without compensation, without revenue and not enough money to do everything that really needs to be done in a perfect world. Lack of funding presents great challenges.

The first entrepreneurs’ dilemma that inventors typically face is with respect to whether to hire a patent practitioner or to simply go it alone and prepare and file a patent application. Obviously, if you can afford competent legal representation that would be the best path to take, but entrepreneurs, and inventors, rarely have the funds available to do everything that really needs to be done. Thus, corners sometimes need to be cut. That is just the nature of business.

The problem with cutting corners in the patent space is that there are so many pitfalls lurking around nearly every corner. Indeed, representing yourself can be a little like taking out your own appendix. If you have acute appendicitis and you are hiking in the mountains many hours away from the nearest hospital taking out your own appendix looks like a much better option all of the sudden given the alternatives. But ordinarily you wouldn’t dream of removing your own appendix. Similarly, if possible you really shouldn’t be representing yourself as you seek a patent. There will be times, however, when it is either do at least some of the work yourself or the project just can’t move forward.

Not surprisingly, many inventors faced with this entrepreneurs’ dilemma will decide to proceed on their own, at least initially. That is a perfectly fine choice, but it needs to be done with eyes wide open. It also requires the do-it-yourself inventor to become as knowledgeable and familiar with the process of describing an invention and drafting a patent application as possible.

The problem with cutting corners in the patent space is that there are so many pitfalls lurking around nearly every corner. Indeed, representing yourself can be a little like taking out your own appendix. If you have acute appendicitis and you are hiking in the mountains many hours away from the nearest hospital taking out your own appendix looks like a much better option all of the sudden given the alternatives. But ordinarily you wouldn’t dream of removing your own appendix. Similarly, if possible you really shouldn’t be representing yourself as you seek a patent. There will be times, however, when it is either do at least some of the work yourself or the project just can’t move forward.

  1. What are functions or features that consumers will identify as an advantage?
  2. Are those functions or features likely to be patentable or contribute to the patentability of your invention?
  3. What other solutions currently exist that consumers could identify as substitutes for your invention?
  4. What patents or published applications exist that relate to your invention? If there are patents are they in force or have they expired?

These questions are critical because they will start to get you thinking about your invention in a different way; in a way that most inventors are unaccustomed to thinking. The truth is that with any invention there will be pieces, parts, features, functions or characteristics that are more likely than others to contribute to patentability. A patent attorney would need to identify what those features are, so you should as well. Inventors absolutely must start with identifying the patentable feature. Only then can you really ever determine whether moving forward with a patent application makes sense.

For example, it might be interesting that your new widget is the first of its kind to be painted yellow, but will painting it yellow contribute to the patent examiner believing you’ve invented something worthy of a patent? No. What you need to do is identify the inventive concept and decide whether that is enough to warrant the time investment and cost associated with obtaining a patent. Hopefully that inventive concept will be something that consumers will identify as an advantage. Remember, obtaining a patent costs money so the only way it will make sense is for you to be able to charge a premium for your product or service. If you patent something that consumers do not perceive as an advantage that usually winds up being a poor business decision in the long run.

In addition to focusing on the core of what makes the invention unique, which will hopefully be perceived as an advantage, you need to know what else is available on the market, and what else has been patented or attempted to be patented. For you to get a patent your invention must be unique when compared with the prior art (i.e., that which is known, such as those things available on the market, patented or published in patent applications). You simply cannot know whether what you have is unique unless you compare it to what is known to exist. That means you absolutely must know what previously exists and then compare it to your invention. This means you are going to need a patent search. While it makes sense to do your own search it is generally the case thatinventors find little even when there are volumes of relevant information to be found, so a professional patent search can be a very worthwhile investment even if you are going to otherwise attempt to do the rest of it (or much of the rest of it) yourself.
The last critical thing from the list above deals with whether any previously issued patents that relate to inventions that address the same problem have expired. This is an absolutely critical consideration because once a patent expires the invention and all obvious variations of the invention fall into the public domain. When a patented invention falls into the public domain anyone could use that invention or any obvious variation of the invention for free. It can be very difficult to compete against free unless what you’ve come up with provides a significant advantage. Therefore, it is important to not only consider the existence of the prior art, but it is critical to consider whether there is prior art that is too close that has now fallen into the public domain and is freely available. Potential licensees will consider this, and so should you. It can be a major hurdle to a business deal, which means it is better to know up front rather than after you’ve invested large amounts of time and money.

For those who are going to go it alone I’ve created a self-help system – The Invent + Patent System™ – which has helped many thousands of inventors create provisional patent applications. Even if you wind up deciding to hire a patent attorney using this system can and will help you create a much more detailed disclosure of your invention, and get you to think about things you undoubtedly never would have thought about otherwise. If you are going to go it alone I strongly recommend you consider using it, but frankly any inventor could benefit from using the system. I also recommend you do as much reading on IPWatchdog.com as possible, focusing on those articles that relate to completely describing your invention in a patent application. Specifically, at a minimum I recommend the following articles:

Each of these articles mentions and links to other articles, so please read as much as you can. If you are brand new to the subject you might find it most easy to start with Invention to Patent 101 – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started, which is a tutorial broken down into discrete reading assignments that start with the basics and get more and more complex as your knowledge progresses.

Best of luck, and happy inventing!

Before you decide to embark on the path of preparing your own patent application, even a provisional patent application, there are a few questions about your invention you really need to consider. Ultimately, whether you decide to go it alone and do-it-yourself or you hire a patent professional, having this information at the ready will greatly facilitate the process.

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ByCarolyn Keane

THE 2016 CONTEST IS NOW OPEN! PRIZE is $20,000

Submit your best new product designs in up to seven categories for a chance to win $20,000 USD, other great prizes, and global recognition. There’s no cost to enter and everything to gain!

Click here for more information and to Apply:

Create The Future Contest

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