Crowdfunding World Summit

Do you know about CrowdFunding?
CrowdFunding is a new law enacted by Congress that allows people to invest online in small companies. The SEC has just released rules opening up new ways to raise funds for your business.
We’d like to let everyone know about – and encourage you to attend – a great opportunity that’s coming up soon.

CrowdFunding World Summit is a complimentary online conference featuring in-depth interviews and presentations with over 65 CrowdFunding experts heard over two weeks, including:
  • Lawmakers who passed the new laws will clarify key elements of CrowdFunding.
  • * U.S. Senator Mark Warner
    * U.S. Rep. David Schweikert
    * U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry
    * U.K. Member of Parliament Barry Sheerman
  • Founders of the top CrowdFunding websites will explain how to raise money online.
  • * RocketHub Founder Brian Meece
    * Fundrise Founder Ben Miller
    * Community Leader Founder Joseph Barisonzi
  • Business experts will describe the steps they’ve used to grow their companies.
  • * Draper Fisher Jurvetson VC Tim Draper
    * Business mentor Jay Abraham and invited guests
    * Former NASDAQ Official David Weild IV
     
    It’s free to attend online for America’s SBDC members and friends, thanks to generous sponsorship by:
    Sponsors: Microsoft, Small Business Development Center, Small Business Entreprenuership Council, 99Designs, CF4ALL, etc.
    The CrowdFunding World Summit is a virtual event, broadcast online from
    December 3rd through 16th. You can listen from anywhere.

    This is the best way to become a CrowdFunding expert or learn how to raise money for your business with CrowdFunding.
    How to attend:
      1: First: Register here
      2: Then: Check your inbox on December 3rd for email instructions to log in to the Summit.
    That’s all!

    What Investors Really Want to Know

    Venture capitalists (VCs) make you work hard for their money by inundating you with question after question about your fundraising process, your company goals, your founding team, among other things. Many of these questions will seem reasonable. Some will seem ridiculous.

    But no matter the question, you must have an answer. And your answers better be good.

    Behind all of this interrogation, there is one key underlying question: what makes you different? Regardless of the variation on the theme, your potential VC is really asking why your business — as compared to others vying for their money — is worth their investment.

    If you’re ready to join the ranks of funded entrepreneurs, you need to be prepared to answer this key question. How?

    BEGIN WITH A THOROUGH COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
    You need to be able to paint the big picture in broad strokes, providing a comprehensive overview of the competitive market, including potential risks, success factors, and barriers to entry.

    BUILD YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
    What is your unique value proposition — and how can you prove it? Identify your customers (or potential customers) and their needs. What pain point are you addressing and what’s your proposed solution?

    Once you’ve done your competitive analysis and built your value proposition, you’re ready to make the case for what makes you different, weaving your unique selling points throughout your entire pitch. Make sure to consider the following when crafting your response:

    Offering. Specifically, what product or service are you providing that nobody else does? Even if there are many competitors with a similar offering, how can you distinguish yours? Is it a difference of perspective? Cost? Ease of use? Target the little (or big) things that prove the uniqueness of your offering. There needs to be a hook somewhere; find it and use it.

    Approach. What makes your business model or marketing strategy stand out? Detail your market penetration potential, including potential sales and distribution channels. You want to show that you have a plan for making money, a plan that is adapted for your particular company — a plan that will work (even where others may have failed).

    Technology. If it’s your state-of-the-art technology that makes you different, push this point. Be prepared to show off the technology that is the engine powering your business. Note that if it’s your technology that makes you stand out, you also need to be prepared to discuss future tech developments to show your competitive advantage won’t be lost somewhere down the road, post investment.

    Team. Sometimes it’s the people at a startup who make it stand. If this is your company strength, sell it. Who are your key players? What were their previous successes? As any successful serial entrepreneur can tell you, an all-star team (or even a team with one lone shining star) can be a powerfully effective selling point.

    It really all boils down to what makes you special. VCs meet so many entrepreneurs; they are the audience for an endless litany of pitches. Unfortunately, this means VCs are often bored and somewhat jaded. They are looking for a spark, for the magic. And they won’t dig to find it. That’s not their job.

    It’s your responsibility to bring to the forefront what makes you stand out. Ultimately, you want to thoroughly convince the VC, that, if they take the leap of faith to invest in you, you are going to execute on your vision in a way that you—and only you—are in the unique position to execute on.

    David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services, a financial services firm providing a complete suite of financial services to companies at every stage of the development process. He’s a financial expert and startup mentor, whose passion is helping businesses focus on what they do best. Follow David @EarlyGrowthFS.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

    Republished by permission, FreeEnterprise.com, in agreement with Young Entrepreneur Council. Copyright© is owned by the author of this article. FreeEnterprise.com is your home for free market news and ideas.

    Starting up? Journey of female entrepreneurs proves anything is possible.

    Even entrepreneurs with amazing ideas weren’t born knowing how to navigate all of the challenges of running a business. The small business owners I speak with regularly share the impact their role models and mentors have had as sources of business guidance and inspiration. Now there’s another place to turn for examples of entrepreneurial success: a new online exhibit created by the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM).  This exhibit highlights the impressive journey of women entrepreneurs throughout the last century. It’s something all business owners – male and female alike – can relate to and learn from.
    From Ideas to Independence: A Century of Entrepreneurial Women” leads visitors from the earliest days of female entrepreneurship in the early 20th century through today. If you’ve encountered obstacles in your quest to start or grow a small business, this exhibit will fuel your fire to keep pursuing your goals. Not only does it detail motivational stories of women in business, but it explores the many obstacles they’ve faced – from social pressures to financial discrimination.
    For example, it was striking to learn that as recently as 1988, some state laws still required women to have a male relative sign a business loan. Still, this challenge forced these women to sharpen their financial acumen and find more efficient means to secure funding. Also, the fact that men historically had dominated the business arena led to the formation of women-focused business support organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners, a critical resource for today’s women entrepreneurs.  
    The exhibit also examines the instrumental role technology has played in helping women get businesses off the ground. In recent years, cloud technology like Office 365 has assumed an especially pivotal role in reducing costs and simplifying the process of starting and running a business. In fact, a recent Microsoft survey revealed that more than 80 percent of female entrepreneurs believe technology was critical to starting and running their businesses.

    My biggest takeaway from the NWHM exhibit, also reinforced by our survey findings, is that there is always a way if you have the will. Women entrepreneurs have laid a foundation of hope and inspiration for all small business owners, because they found ways to achieve their dreams despite great odds.




    For more tips and information on how technology can support you and your business, follow me on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Cindy_Bates) or follow Microsoft SMB on Twitter (@MicrosoftSMB) and Facebook (Microsoft SMB).

    Bad Days, Family Wisdom, and Entrepreneurship

    One of the joys of fatherhood is discovering the insights and blunt wisdom of children’s books. My eleven-year-old daughter, Truitte Rose, used to have a favorite book titled “Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. I couldn’t read it to her enough. It chronicles a day in a boy’s life where nothing goes right.

    I too had a bad day last week at my company, Corporate Rain. I hit my chair dealing with client crises, fighting a cold, losing a valued associate, dealing with a minor credit card fraud, and reading a dense legal contract. On the side of my desk there was a Mt. Everest of overdue sales calls I needed to get to. And this was before noon. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

    As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that a day like this can be dangerous, not because of the circumstantially difficult day, but because of my internal reaction to it.

    On such a day I invariably feel I have to push hard—to move, move, move—to rush, rush, rush—to compensate. And when I give in to this feeling I make poor judgments. I make mistakes. I insult people and lose my temper. My whole mien becomes frenetic, forced, faked, and joyless.

    As an owner, it’s hard to slow down while Rome is burning around you. You’re responsible. (Only you can prevent this forest fire!) I’ve had to learn the efficiency of hitting the pause button, of not making crucial decisions on such days. For me, when I have a very bad day, everything sort of emanates from a dark, bleak, shrunken part where I exist only as a miasma of cosmic insufficiency; that essential place where dwells the cowed and frightened child, as well as the cornered beast. So my “professional” response is to assume the trappings of a sanguine and competent businessman and push through. But, in fact, the real good me is not present. The fact is that on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day I am in reality one dark, primordial, primal scream inside: a rootless Edvard Munch template, an enraged troll.

    Over the years I’ve lost money, sales, friends, and reputation on days like this. While grinding my teeth and determinedly … getting … it … all … done. I have frequently caused myself and my company harm under the guise of mechanically doing my duty to God, country, and the capitalist way. Only slowly have I learned to overcome this hubristic folly.

    I was an actor in my younger days. One of my first professional roles was in a play in Los Angeles called “Darkness At Noon,” based on a novel by Arthur Koestler. I played a tortured political prisoner. It was an especially intense role and my rehearsal process was unhealthily over-committed to the point of almost masochism. There was an old Portuguese actor in the company named Lorenzo. He’d had a long and picaresque life and he was kind, wise, and a generous acting colleague. One day in rehearsal he took me aside, sat me down, put his hands on my very tense shoulders and said simply, “You can’t push the river, Timothy. Flow with it.” That’s all he said.

    I think it’s hard for an entrepreneur to follow that advice. Entrepreneurs live to push the river. But the fact is, they can’t.

    I remember years ago speaking to my mother about my utter misery over a failed love affair. She was appropriately sympathetic, of course. That’s a mother’s job. Then she said, “But you know, Timothy, there’s little I can say that will cheer you up. There’s only one thing I know to do on really bleak, dark days. The only thing I really know to do on such days is to clean my toilets.” In other words, do those mechanical things you can do when you are overwhelmed or not at your best.

    Or, if things are bad enough, as Scarlett O’Hara says at the end of a very bad day in Gone With The Wind. “Home. I’ll go home … After all, tomorrow is another day.” Not bad advice, Scarlett.

    Timothy Askew is Founder and CEO of the elite New York and Texas-based sales execution firm Corporate Rain International. He holds advanced degrees from Emory University and Claremont Graduate School and is a published poet, occasional public speaker, and ordained minister, as well as a former actor, opera singer, Broadway producer, tennis pro and bartender.

    Republished by permission, FreeEnterprise.com, in agreement with NY Enterprise Report. Copyright© is owned by the author of this article. FreeEnterprise.com is your home for free market news and ideas.

    Managing Millennials: A Crash Course

    If you are struggling to make the most out of your relationships with Millennial employees, here is a quick guide to turning those born between 1980 and 1992 into some of your biggest fans and assets.

    Communicating: Veterans like face-to-face meetings, boomers like phone calls, Generation X prefers email, and Millennials do most of their communicating via cell phone, text messages, and social media. Millenials’ interpersonal skills and presentation skills often need work. But be open to letting them develop relationships through the channels they’re most comfortable with. Their informality can often lead to more frequent contact and faster relationship building.

    Recruiting: When you set out to hire younger workers, consider your employer brand. What does your company stand for? What are your values? Young people want to work with those they like and companies they believe in. Also understand that what they learn about your company online—from LinkedIn, your website, or customer reviews on Yelp—will shape their opinions and interests.

    Inspiring: Don’t assume that the job itself, let alone a paycheck, is enough to keep Millenials working at their full potential. You have to motivate and inspire them. Showing concern for their happiness and well-being will go a long way.

    Training: Turnover rates are higher among younger workers, so consider breaking up training into segments delivered over time. Link training with increased responsibilities and compensation or benefits so that you both see ROI. Also integrate as much experiential learning as possible, such as going to meetings or conferences together and talking about what works and what needs to be worked on.

    Rewarding: Money is important to Millennials, but it is not what drives them. Before you start writing checks, find out what motivates them. Maybe it’s a 401(k), a gym membership, flex time, or the opportunity for travel and advancement.

    Mentoring: This generation has been coached more than any other. They require attention and frequent communications. Focus instructions on what you need done and suggest how, but give them the freedom to try new ways. Review and judge the results more than the methods.

    Parenting: Millennials are extremely close with their parents. It is a fuzzy line these days as to what is the appropriate level of parental involvement in interviews, discipline, contract negotiations, etc. It’s up to you to set boundaries, but making helicopter parents your allies can pay off as well.

    Retaining: Don’t expect Millennials to be lifers. They typically change jobs every one to three years. But there are exceptions. Show them possible career paths, milestones to different levels in your company, and how staying with you will build their careers. Give them big goals to achieve, then big rewards if they deliver.

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