Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Best Books To Help You Get The Funding You Need - Forbes

The Best Books To Help You Get The Funding You Need - Forbes


The Best Books To Help You Get The Funding You Need - Forbes

Posted: 10 Aug 2019 08:00 AM PDT

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Vault Lines: These books offer funding fundamentals for entrepreneurs. (Photo: Getty)

Getty

Think you've stumbled upon the next big idea? That's terrific news, but businesses don't blossom unless they're nourished financially. Of course, you can always bootstrap your entrepreneurial venture and hope it takes hold before your money well runs dry. On the other hand, why not search for seed funding so you don't have to bear the capital risks alone?

Even if you've never gotten closer to a venture capitalist than watching Shark Tank, you can still jump into the VC and private equity fray. Start by reading a few of the following books to get some funding fundamentals—and advanced strategies.

Six Figure Crowdfunding: The No Bullsh*t Guide to Running a Life-Changing Campaign by Derek Miller 

Thanks to the internet, entrepreneurs can unearth strangers willing to invest cash in startups. We know this process as crowdfunding, and it has helped plenty of founders pay for employees, materials, research and more. Want to know how to get people to opt into your business concepts? Kickstarter's Derek Miller shares secrets and tips that have turned ordinary dreamers into hugely successful crowdfunders. I found Miller's down-to-earth, humor-meets-cynicism style perfectly suited to explaining such a meaty, essential topic.

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 Crack the Funding Code: How Investors Think and What They Need to Hear to Fund Your Startup by Judy Robinett 

Want funding? Getting in front of investors is only half the battle. Speaking their language is the other. Luckily for you, Judy Robinett reveals what angels need to know to open their wallets to unknown entrepreneurs. And she does it by breaking down the mindset of venture capitalists. I appreciate getting a behind-the-scenes looks at any industry or practice, and Crack the Funding Code expanded my understanding of how to construct ethical pitches and deals that work for both sides.

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Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson 

Dying to know more about venture capital? Get an education from Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, two seasoned dealmakers who have been in the industry for decades. Writing for would-be founders and investors, Venture Deals reads like a breezier graduate-level textbook. The authors cut through the jargon to get to the heart of how venture capitalists and entrepreneurs can develop respectful, lucrative arrangements that leave everyone satisfied. I'm all about optimism, and this book makes me believe that startup funding life need not be cutthroat or unduly stressful.

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 Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It by Scott Kupor 

After reading Scott Kupor's book, I'm much better versed in what it takes to snag big money from behind the venture capital curtain. From navigating down rounds to telling a compelling story about your startup, Kupor covers everything you need to know about the funding machine using an accessible, everyday writing style. While no stranger to the high-powered VC lifestyle, Kupor has written Secrets of Sand Hill Road with the noble goal of "democratizing opportunity."

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The Private Equity Playbook: Management's Guide to Working with Private Equity by Adam Coffey 

Could your startup become a unicorn with a little influx of cash? Then you might want to consider working with a private equity firm. These firms operate differently than other investment vehicles, but they may be a good fit depending upon your goals. In this volume, Adam Coffey reveals his winning C-suite strategies for starting and scaling businesses using private equity. After spending time with this playbook, I'm convinced that private equity could be the answer to many entrepreneurs' fundraising problems.

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Funding Secrets Hacked: Discover the Secrets and Power of Business Credit They Won't Tell Us! by Travis Toussaint 

Everyone adores a clever hack, whether it's how to clean oil stains with Coca-Cola or how to get financing for your startup. In Funding Secrets Hacked, Travis Toussaint looks at raising capital through the lens of business credit. He talks about ways to leverage decent or excellent credit, proving that founders have more available roads to funding than the well-traveled one. If you think I'm contemplating how to maximize my fiscal street cred after reading this book, you're right. You will be, too.

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Government Incentives: Tax Credits, Grants, Cash Reimbursements & Financing by Gil Gonzales 

When thinking of viable sources of startup funding, I can't say "the government" was the first answer I came up with, but Gil Gonzales has opened my mind to the concept. From economic business incentives to grants and reimbursements, he brings up novel ways to keep a fledgling company afloat with a little assistance from Uncle Sam (and/or state and local governments). By showing how small firms can get their piece of the government's funding action, Government Incentives truly levels the playing field for all entrepreneurs.

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How To Pitch Investors At Any Startup Stage - Forbes

Posted: 08 Aug 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Pitching begins the moment you decide to start your company. You've got an idea and call on your closest family and friends to vet your concept and ask for funding. As you gain confidence, you start identifying potential investors and maybe even exploring small business loan options. During these initial steps, validation of your concept could range from emotional support to a $50,000 contribution. Any endorsement will likely come from someone you've pitched.

For many entrepreneurs, funding can be an intimidating stage. First of all, you've probably just started getting over the anxiety that comes with self-employment or are learning firsthand about imposter syndrome. Now, you've got to squash any self-doubt, collect your thoughts and ask strangers for money. Secondly, startup financing terminology may sound like a foreign language. Between bootstrapping, crowdfunding, angels, incubators, accelerators, venture capitalists, seed stage and series A-C, it's no wonder some entrepreneurs limit themselves to two familiar extremes: friends and family or Shark Tank.

The best way to become acquainted with the startup financing space quickly is to build a pitch deck. Drafting one will force you to fully organize your business idea, study the category you're entering (or creating), tease your brand concept, build a plan and, most importantly, think about your most fitting investor types. To get started, here are six tips to keep in mind.

1. Design matters.

Your pitch deck is typically your first and primary marketing tool. Yes, substance and content matter most, but it would be infuriating to discover you lost a funding opportunity simply due to poor presentation. Unless you have expert-level experience with presentation modules, a homemade PowerPoint or Keynote doc on one of their easily recognizable stock templates is not recommended. However, there is no need to blow all your crowdfunding reserves on design either. A professionally designed deck isn't so much about impressing investors as it is about not turning them off. Search for pitch deck examples, and find an experienced marketer or agency to pump out the best product for you. It will be well worth the minimal investment in building your primary fundraising tool.

2. Make your deck easy to understand and follow.

Your pitch deck is not your business plan. Avoid over-explaining or complicating your pitch with too many flow charts and graphs. Most investors spend seconds (if any time) looking at a deck, and you'll want them to grasp these specific points quickly: concept, uniqueness and progress. Applying a one-sentence summary as a tagline to each slide is one way of ensuring your pitch deck has an effective narrative flow and conclusive impact. This draft style can also force you to perfect your live pitch for those investors who prefer a casual conversation or elevator pitch over a presentation.

3. Position yourself as an objective resource on your team.

Take a moment to step into an investor's shoes and determine how best to position yourself within your company's team in a way that optimizes your actual experience and skill set. In addition to being the founder, determine what specific business value you bring as a human resource. Don't just call yourself CEO by default; find or create a unique title that suits what your actual contributions will be, and position yourself accordingly within your team summary.

4. Consider your audience when including sample transactions.

Some of the motivation to launch your company may have come from hearing about similar companies in your industry that have either received major funding, announced a newly acquired stake in their business by a major corporation, or sold for an amount way above their actual revenues and somewhere around their assessed valuation for a noteworthy multiple. It's usually a good idea to feature this activity in order to build investor confidence in your category and product. However, this could be a double-edged sword, as it's possible some legacy brand investors may view this as a hint to your intent to flip the business too quickly as opposed to fully dedicating yourself to its long-term growth and success. Position this section in a manner that won't question your personal commitment.

5. Position your innovation pipeline effectively.

Innovation includes any new product or service you're looking to sell after you've launched your initial offerings. Investors need to know you're looking ahead for tangible growth means and contributing to your sales projections outside of relying on more customers. To truly optimize innovation plans within your revenue goals, think about how it can affect your entire customer life cycle: acquisition, engagement, loyalty, growth and retention. This way, it becomes clear how innovation can compound your revenue, and you'll produce enough context to showcase it prominently and do it justice within your pitch.

6. Substantiate your projections.

So many founders underestimate this part of their pitch process because they fail to acknowledge that most investors have a background in finance. Furthermore, veteran investors typically have a diverse network of industry experts to help them dissect business summaries like yours. Be sure to produce some real calculations and keep that backup for any future investor diligence. Also, don't exaggerate your growth. A hockey stick projection may look sexy on a graph, but to some, it's not the most promising for long-term stability and growth. How long can a 50,000% growth rate really last? Most experienced investors would prefer to see a steadily accelerating business and, after the bell curve kicks in, avoid a plunge as sharp as that rise. In short, do your diligence and stay realistic when forecasting.

Pitching is like interviewing. Prepare yourself to be fueled by rejection until you get a yes. Along the way, be careful not to interpret one rejecting investor's feedback universally. Doing so can drive you to pivot your business model endlessly and deliver a pitch that seems Frankensteined and too far removed from your original concept with less motivational spark. In other words, when in doubt, recheck your master vision, and stay your course. After all, nearly all of our most powerful entrepreneurs today are successful not because they listened to everyone, but because they didn't.

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