How To Build & Sell A Profitable Website On Flippa With No Experience…

How To Build & Sell A Profitable Website On Flippa With No Experience…

Today we’re handing the blog over to Jerry Banfield. Jerry is an entrepreneur and teacher who has coached over 80,000 students on everything from Facebook marketing through to time management and productivity.

Last year Jerry built and sold a profitable site on Flippa for $5,500 with no experience and the best part is, he’s put together a step-by-step Udemy Course to share the details on exactly how he did it. Usually $199 – for a limited time, Jerry has dropped the price down to just $25 for all Flippa users. Simply use coupon code: FLIPPABLOG or THIS LINK.

Over to Jerry:

If you are trying to sell your website on Flippa, knowing what works to make a sale can save you a lot of frustration and money. The first two times I posted websites for sale on Flippa, I made my listings and then tried to promote them in complete ignorance of what other sellers were already doing right. No one bid on any of my listings…

When I went to relist my website again, I realized it was crazy to do the same thing I did before and expect different results. For the next few weeks prior to launching another listing, I researched the Flippa marketplace to see what websites were already selling so that I could discover what they all had in common. I found websites that had sold for at least a thousand dollars almost always showed solid proof of income and had verified Google analytics. I also discovered what price to start the bidding at, how to write a compelling listing to attract watchers, how to directly contact potential buyers, how to convert people watching to bids, why every question was worth answering in great detail, and what I needed to do to make it easy to close the auction successfully.

When I used what I learned to launch a new listing on Flippa, the same website that did not attract even one bid when I listed it before sold for $5,500.

You can skip the painful learning process I went through to learn how to sell on Flippa when you take this course. You can see what your website is really worth when you list it the way I listed mine. This course will continue to be useful for you through any improvements Flippa makes because what I teach is based on principles that you can adapt to what you are doing today. You can count on me to answer any questions you have in the course and to add new lectures based on your feedback! Thank you for reading this and I appreciate the chance to serve you as your instructor in this course.

Learn how to build & sell a profitable website on Flippa today for just $199 $25!

For a little sneak peak of the course content, here’s lecture 8 on exactly how to set your auction pricing:

How I Quit My Job and Launched a Successful Web Business

How I Quit My Job and Launched a Successful Web Business

In May 2011 I decided that I wanted to quit my job. I didn’t know what I would do instead, but I knew that I needed to move on. That December, I did move on, and I haven’t looked back.

Today I work as a professional blogger and have never been happier. Earlier this month, I launched my own content marketing agency, Clear Blogging Solutions.

In this post I want to recount my story. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences – both my successes and my failures.

You’ve Got to Want It

I actually liked my old job.

I led the management and development of an eight figure property portfolio in my father’s business. But I became restless – I was an entrepreneur at heart, and even though I had autonomy in my role, I had an epiphany. I wanted to quit.

On May 23rd of 2011, I launched my first website. I then set myself a goal – to quit my job within one year. I did not rely solely on hope and dreams. I set a concrete, actionable goal.

To succeed at anything, you need goals. Nowhere is this more true than in efforts to quit your “offline” job and start an online business. I didn’t waffle and waver – I committed to my goal and I succeeded because I really, truly wanted it.

If you don’t have the drive to strive for your goal, then you are unlikely to succeed. That’s okay, but it might mean that you aren’t ready to quit your job. You have to really want it.

I did. And December 23rd of 2011 was my last day of employment – I beat my goal by five months.

Don’t Play It Safe, Play It Smart

People just starting out are often told to wait until they are making as much or more with their online business as they are in their current job. Frankly, I think that is bad advice.

I started out trying to gain passive income from niche sites, which did not really work out (more on that later). After a while, I began doing freelance writing work. I secured one client, then another.

I wasn’t making enough money with my writing to support my lifestyle. But I did the math – I was making an equivalent hourly rate of $25 (which was considerably higher than my hourly rate at my job). If I could find writing work to fill the extra hours freed up by quitting my job, I would make enough to stay afloat. I was confident in my ability to find more clients. Simple logic dictated that I could quit my job and still make enough money.

You should not play it safe and wait until you are making as much money online as you currently do. Instead, you need to logically calculate when you can successfully rely on your online business.

Prepare for the Worst Financially

Another key part of playing it smart is making sure that you have something to fall back on in case your financial situation turns bad.

Any sort of safety net works. You could save money. You might be able to get the guarantee of a job in the event that you need to return to stable income. You could even consider moving back in with your parents if things don’t pan out (if such a thing were an option of course ;-)).

Whatever you choose, you need some sort of Plan B. For me, that was financial savings. I put enough money away to cover me for several months.

There is another side to this coin. Yes, you need to prepare for the worst. But you also will need to make sacrifices. To brighten my financial outlook, I critically assessed how much I was spending and cut 30% of my monthly costs.

That’s right – I eliminated almost a third of my expenditures. It is hard – but if giving up that flat screen TV or shiny new car will give you the wiggle room to succeed in quitting your job, it is worth it.

What is the takeaway from all of this? You should be prepared to adopt a more frugal lifestyle and you always need a back up plan in case things go south.

If It Doesn’t Pan Out, Change Your Plan

When I decided that I wanted to quit my job, I didn’t know how to do it. My first plan involved passive income streams – creating niche websites and making money through ad revenue.

I created an authority site for parents in the world of child modeling (random topic, I know — such are the vagaries of creating websites based upon keyword research). I obsessed over SEO and did everything I could to target the right keywords.

After a few months, it worked. Modeling for Kids reached #1 in Google search rankings. But the earnings I had hoped for didn’t pour in. Soon, due to excessive backlinking on the site, Google pushed it down in the rankings.

I was seriously frustrated. So in September 2011, I submitted a bunch of applications to the ProBlogger Job Board. I did it on a whim, but soon heard back from WPMU. After a paid trial there, I secured ongoing work. I then sent out some more applications and got a job with the ManageWP blog (where I still write). Finally, I was making real money.

I learned that passive income streams are not the only way to make money online. From my experience, they are not necessarily even the best way.

I did not begin to succeed until I took a leap and tried something new. Of course, you should work hard to put your business plan into action. But you should never ignore new opportunities.

The path of your online business may twist and turn in new directions but as long as you enjoy the journey and it gets you where you want to go, that’s okay.

Know What You’re Doing Before You Do More of It

Unfortunately, I wasn’t done with my futile foray into niche sites.

In January of 2012, even as I was getting paid for writing, I drew up a plan to create a large number of sites. Without the time to work extensively on the mass niche sites myself, I hired a Virtual Assistant (VA) to write the content for me.

On April 5th, my VA quit without notice – I only found out when I emailed her to ask why nothing was getting done. It was a huge setback for my passive income dreams and gave me a chance for reflection. My ideas about scaling completely changed.

I didn’t really understand how to make money from niche sites, and yet I had tried to make money from multiple niche sites. That was a bad plan.

On top of that, I tried to hire somebody else to do the work of creating content for those niche sites – work that, again, I personally did not know how to do effectively.

Scaling could mean that you are going to do more of something yourself, or that you are going to hire someone else to do more of it. Either way, you should always understand a process before you try to scale it.

Carve Out Time To Think

The next month I took a trip to Bulgaria. It was an amazing decision. With little to worry about, I found that I finally had a relaxed creative zone to relax and reflect within.

Too often, we get caught up in the noise of daily life. But great ideas that drive us forward come most easily in the silence of reflection. Here is a short list of ideas I came up with while on holiday:

  • Two different information products
  • A new strategy for guest posting
  • A new blog
  • The re-branding of Leaving Work Behind
  • Ten ideas for new articles

I was able to make positive changes to my own blog and put new ideas into action. That would have been impossible without some space to think. Constant hustling and endless work will burn you out. Instead, you should be sure to make room for time when you have nothing to worry about – with no worries, you can think.

Own Your Time

Prior to quitting my job, the issue was finding enough time to work on my business. While working many hours in my offline role, it was often hard to slot in enough time to advance my online aspirations. Time management was paramount.

After quitting, I came to realize that time was still important. Now that it was totally in my control, I started striving to be as efficient as possible. Reading and experience led me to four steps that I call the AESA process: act, eliminate, streamline/systematize, and automate. I detailed it in an earlier post.

Time is the single most important asset you have. Don’t waste it.

Preserve Your Integrity

Some advice seems so short but rings so true. Here’s a piece that I learned – be honest.

In the past, I tried a lot of ways to earn money other than niche sites and freelance writing. A lot of them centered around my blog – affiliate hard sells, webinars, etc. I always ended up feeling bad about these ploys and with good reason. They may not necessarily have been unethical, but they got far closer to being so than I was comfortable with.

Don’t build your business on dishonesty, cheap gimmicks and short term profit goals. I have now decided to do the right thing and throw those ideas in the trash can (where they belong).

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize…

Running an online business is hard and the difficulty doesn’t end. It’s not a quick dash – it’s a marathon. But it can be incredibly rewarding if you keep the right mindset. I try to do that every day.

I don’t force myself to work. I know that on some days I will feel demotivated. If I need to read a book or take a nap, I do that. Why? There are days where I work for hours on end late into the night. Those motivated days will more than make up for the days when I’m just not feeling it.

Here’s my point – the ultimate goal of a business should never be money. Money is nothing more than a means to an end. If money gets you from point A to point B, that’s great. But what matters is point B and the journey to get there.

My focus is always on quality of life. For me, the little things matter. I enjoy an occasional afternoon round of golf. I love the freedom to drop by my dad’s office in the middle of the day to say hi. The little things do matter because they stack up and make my life more fulfilling.

Never lose sight of why you do what you do.

…Because the Prize Is Awesome

I don’t intend to let my business stagnate. I launched Clear Blogging Solutions in early August. I have new plans for my blog, Leaving Work Behind.

I hope that you will adopt a similar mindset – never stop dreaming and never be afraid to make your dreams come true.

This post was an overview of my experience quitting my job and starting an online business. I think there are some key lessons you can glean from my story – both the things I did right and the things I did wrong.

  • To succeed, you must truly want it.
  • Don’t be too cautious – be logical, and know when to take the leap.
  • Be smart with your finances.
  • Never be afraid to branch out, even if it changes your plans.
  • Understand a process before you scale it.
  • Find your creative space, be it a location or vacation.
  • Value time management.
  • Be honest with your customers.
  • Quality of life is always the most important consideration

Hopefully my story and advice will give you the practical wisdom to leverage your work ethic to make massive gains. Good luck!

Is it better to build or buy a website?

Is it better to build or buy a website?

Look at the tech media today and you’d be forgiven for thinking the only way to start a successful web business was from scratch. Or, maybe, to Kickstart one if you don’t have the cash to invest in bootstrapping your own startup.

But as we know well here at Flippa, there are other options. Like buying a smaller web business and building it into something great.

Flippa itself wasn’t a startup built from scratch — it was spun out of business that had been bought into by founder Mark Harbottle years earlier.

So this week I sat down with Mark to ask the question: what’s better? To buy a startup, or to build one from scratch?

Is it more expensive to buy, or build?

From the outside, it can look like building a startup from scratch is the cheaper option—you don’t need anything to start, other than time.

Not so, says Mark.

“I started SitePoint.com with $500 back in 2000. I formed a partnership with my co-founder, Matt Mickiewicz, who already had a site with some traffic and a little revenue.”

Of course, Mark brought more than $500 to the table. He contributed vision, “deep experience in the space, and a plan to build out the team and turn it into a real business.” So, pretty much the same things you’d need if you were going to build a business idea from scratch.

Is it easier to be objective about a business you’ve bought, or one you’ve built?

Mark considers all his businesses—including SitePoint, 99designs, and Flippa—labours of love. “I’ve been deeply involved with those businesses for years, and it is difficult to see the forest for the trees at times when you’re so close to everything,” he reveals.

The solution to the perspective problem—regardless of whether you’ve bought or built a startup—is to get outside advice.

“Having good advisers and mentors around who understand what you’re trying to do is important.” Sometimes, says Mark, it’s the only way “to get a 30,000-foot perspective on things when you need it.”

Isn’t there more financial risk in buying into a startup than in building one yourself?

To that, Mark’s answer is simple: “Only invest what you can afford lose. For me, that was a few hundred dollars and a bunch of spare time.”

And as for external investors, Mark advises startups of all kinds to “never take money from any outside investor unless you truly believe you are onto something and you can demonstrate traction.”

So he believes it’s usually easier to start out with an idea that already has a little traction.

I will always seek out opportunities that have some movement already, rather than starting from scratch.

Well, can’t you get more traction with a disruptive startup you’ve built from scratch than by buying into someone else’s idea?

“SitePoint has been an educator of web designers and developers for over 13 years now. We have given a lot over a long period of time to the web community in the way of free content, education, resources, and help,” Mark explains.

But he agrees that 99designs, the crowdsourced design startup he built from scratch, “is a lot more disruptive than our other businesses. 99designs applies new thinking and a different model to an industry that wasn’t serving the lower end of the market very well at all,” he says.

“We also received a lot more word of mouth which helped with our growth.”

But, he says, the single most important factor in 99designs’ success was, in fact, its initial incubation—and the traction it gained—at SitePoint.com.

“We already had a large community of designers and small businesses customers via SitePoint.com who were early adopters of 99designs. 99designs came out of the blocks with enormous traction thanks to SitePoint. We were profitable from day one and grew like a weed from there.”

He adds: “The early growth fuelled by SitePoint.com made it near-on impossible for the heavily funded copy cats to catch us.”

When Mark talks about “traction”, he’s talking paying customers and profits, not media mentions and hot headlines.

So What’s Better: to Buy or to Build?

If he was starting a business today, Mark says he’d start by looking at his motivations.

“You first need to decide why you’re going into business. If you just plan to have a small lifestyle business on the side that generates some extra cash for you, and perhaps one day becomes your full time gig, buying a small site from Flippa with a little traffic is an excellent way to get started. Look for a site in an area you’re passionate about and work to grow it over time.”

“Learn as you go,” he adds. “It’s not that hard.”

But what if you want to built the next Facebook?

“Maybe you still buy a site for the experience of running a small online business,” Mark suggests, “but I would also think about attending a few of the Startup Weekend events to get a feel for what’s happening in the real world. Meet a co-founder, get inspired, have some fun, and start networking with mentors, investors and the like, and take it from there.”

The Bottom Line

“Just have a go,” Mark finishes. “Do something. Partner with someone. Buy a site. Start one from scratch. It really doesn’t matter. Just take the first step and follow your nose from there.”

“I definitely think starting a business today is easier and cheaper than it was 13 years ago.”

Inspiring words. So what are you waiting for? Let us know about your ventures in the comments, or right here on Facebook:

Thanks Jim for the beautiful photo!

Time Poor and Idea Rich: How Busy People Can Get Their Project Off The Ground

In today’s world time is at a premium for many of us.

Holding a job and taking care of your family can be difficult enough, but throw trying to build an online business into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Many would-be entrepreneurs never reach their potential because they feel like they don’t have enough time.

I can attest to this as someone who worked a full-time job when first building my online business, and I have seen other people go through the same thing. To get through it, you need the right ingredients for success.

I managed to build a successful online business and quit my job. I’ve seen others do it too – people with far busier lives than me. It is possible. In this article I will explain how.

A Friendly, Motivational Kick Up the Ass

Let’s start with some tough love.

Whatever you want to achieve, someone has already done it, and they’ve done it in less time and with more things holding them back.

Your plans aren’t to create some kind of miracle – in the grand scheme of things your achievements will be a mere drop in the ocean. I don’t say this to discourage you – quite the opposite. I say it to galvanise you into truly believing that you are more than capable of achieving your goals.

To say “I can’t” is rarely true. If you want to, go ahead and say “I don’t want it enough,” but never say “I can’t.” Be honest with yourself. Whatever you think you don’t have time for, you do – trust me.

Before you start reading the following tips I have for making the most of your time, you need to shift your attitude towards one of enlightenment – i.e. “I know I can do this with the limited time I have; I just need to figure out how.”

In a nutshell, you need to adopt the right mindset and remember that you can do what you set out to do. Only then will you be truly ready to tackle your online endeavours effectively.

Have Less Fun

I say “Have less fun” with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek – creating your own business isn’t about having less fun.

However, you may need to make sacrifices in the short term in order to assure your success in the long run. This is the sort of basic tradeoff that will pay off.

Put simply, you cannot expect to build a successful online business without spending more time working than you would have otherwise. Stories abound of people earning substantial money doing what they love online (and I am one of those people), but you can’t expect to arrive at that point with only a few hours of work per week.

As such, sacrifices will be necessary.

You may say that you have no time, but in reality that hour in front of the TV in the evening or extra hour of sleep on a Saturday morning may have to be sacrificed for the greater good.

At the end of the day it’s up to you to determine how much you want success. If you want it enough, you will work hard enough, and you can succeed.

Everyone has spare time – if you find yourself unwilling to do necessary work in that spare time, fair enough. Perhaps you don’t want it enough yet. Perhaps you need to revisit your priorities. But make sure that you’re not just making excuses. Working overtime to build your business isn’t a permanent deal – you just need to do it for long enough to get it off the ground.

A Bunch of Tips To Make More Time

Let’s continue with a whole bunch of tips that can help you to make more time right now. These are short and sharp and will enable you to carve out healthy chunks of time from within your already hectic schedule. It’s just a matter of analyzing your current job, igniting your work ethic and using your time smartly.

Think about your work – your other work. A job with steady income is essential while you try new endeavors but you’re in trouble unless you evaluate how your current job impacts your online business. Here are some tips:

  1. Use your lunch break.
  2. Avoid wasting time in rush hour traffic. Instead, arrive at work early and/or leave late.
  3. Take your holiday allowance and designated sick days.
  4. Confirm what you are and are not permitted to do on the job.
  5. Confirm what your company does and does not permit you to do on the job – if you get your work done, are you free to do your own things?
  6. Negotiate remote work days with your boss (even if it’s only a day per week).

Always work hard. You need to be willing to put in effort to grow your business:

  1. Go part time so that you have more time to devote to your online business – if it’s on the right path.
  2. Work a six day week – dedicate Saturdays to your business.
  3. Allocate 1-2 hours after work to your online business. Once that time is up, disconnect yourself and relax.
  4. Cut out an hour or two of TV and/or web browsing on weeknights so that you can get up earlier and start on your work.
  5. Stop checking email and social media sites every 10 minutes. Grant yourself a few 5-10 minute periods throughout the day and stick to them religiously.

Working hard is not enough. You also need to work smart:

  1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
  2. Use Rescue Time. Let it shock you. Then work more efficiently.
  3. Turn off all notifications!
  4. Evaluate the worth of all tasks you engage in relative to your Target and Endgame.
  5. Read Getting Things Done. Take its advice.
  6. Eliminate anything that isn’t taking you forward. Be ruthless.

The Fallacy of “Making More Time”

Making more time is never about “making more time” – it’s about better using the time you already have available.

Many people have launched profitable online businesses. So can you. We all only have 24 hours per day, so it stands to reason that the more successful among us simply use that time more effectively. That’s what you need to do.

In order to achieve this I recommend four steps that I call the AESA process.

Step 1: Act

To succeed you must act. Action is paramount and takes precedence over all other things.

Step 2: Eliminate

Get rid of things that don’t help achieve your goals. As your business begins to take shape, regular analysis of your workflow will reveal inefficiencies and redundancies. In short, some of the stuff you do just won’t help. The key is to keep working on those areas that provide a return and dump the rest.

Once action has led to success, eliminate those things that have not contributed to that success (directly or indirectly).

Step 3: Streamline and Systematize

Study the remaining tasks carefully and make each process as efficient as possible. Allow no room for anything that adds time and effort to a project without adding substantial value as well.

Once you are left with a core of your most efficient and results-producing tasks, you should look to streamline each of them until they are running at a maximum level of efficiency.

At some point, a focus on efficacy and productivity will lead you to put others in charge of some aspects of your business. This is natural and beneficial (I myself do this), but be careful with it. No task should be assigned to others until you understand it fully and are able to break it down into relatively simple step-by-step instructions. Understand before you delegate. I cannot stress how important this is.

Step 4: Automate

Finally, you should outsource those tasks that others can do in your stead. This will free you up to do more of the tasks that result in greater business growth. Furthermore, it puts you in a position where the business can all but run itself, perhaps requiring your input on a limited scale (possibly even just an hour or two a week).

Also remember to think about how these steps apply to other areas – this process can apply to your job as much as it can to your business. If you can outsource relatively menial elements of your job for an hourly rate less than what you earn, what is to stop you? You can utilize the time freed up to strengthen your business.

Your choices for automation are far-ranging — from third-world virtual assistant companies like Ask Sunday and Task Bullet to sole operator virtual assistants in America. You can expect to pay anywhere from $4-$25 or more depending upon who you deal with and their skill set.

Conclusion

You have dreams and aspirations for your project, but you may not think you have the time to put it into action. Remember that you do. Success begins with the right mindset – if you really want something, you can have it. Productivity is paramount, so make sure that you effectively use the time you already have.

Hopefully the tips that I provided here will guide you as you seek to launch, grow, and sustain your online business.

What do you think? Which of these tips are most helpful as you try to balance a busy schedule and bring your ideas to life? Do you have any useful advice of your own? Let us know in the comments section!

Thanks to Roberto Ferrari for the photo!

Looking For an Angel? The Basics of Finding an Investor

Building a successful business involves a good idea, money and a bit of luck.

Notice, it doesn’t need to be a GREAT idea, a good one will do.  I’ve had a few ideas I thought were amazing and they didn’t make a single dollar.  I also had an idea that I thought was good but wasn’t 100% confident about, so I set it aside in favor of a project I was working on at the same time, only to have the first take over and earn over $5 million a year.

Here are a few examples of companies most of us have heard of.  These three made it big with an idea I would have never said was great idea when they started out.

Blacksocks.com

Who would have said, “Selling sock subscriptions online for black socks only, WOW, what a great idea”?  Samuel Liechti of Zurich, Switzerland did.  In 1999, he created the sock subscription website and in 2005 brought the idea to the U.S.  The site now has over 60,000 active customers in over 74 countries and has sold over 1 million pairs of calf socks.

Twitter.com

“Wow, you’re telling me, people can post anything they want on a website with 140 characters or less and people around the world will read it.  How cool.”   If someone had told this idea to 100 random people on the street, at least 99 of them would have said it’s a terrible idea.  In 2012, there were more than 340 million tweets a day generated by more than 200 million active users.

The Pet Rock

Yes, we all remember or at least have heard of possibly the dumbest idea for a business that made millions.   In the early 1970’s, Gary Dahl, an advertising executive came up with the idea to buy a bunch of rocks and put them in a cardboard box (so they could breathe) and sell them as pets.  Each rock sold for $3.95, by in 1974.  By 1975, the rocks were a hit and the company was making millions.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about the initial idea, there is always the possibility that it could take off.  If it does, the need for money becomes even more important than first starting out.

The Need For Money

To grow a business successfully the founder needs to an experienced team, infrastructure, marketing, distribution channels and more.  All of which require money.

Entrepreneurs have many choices to find the money they need.  Starting out they should look to the four F’s – Founders, Friends, Family, and Fools.  This is where most entrepreneurs get start up funds to get the idea to a stage it can either seek further capital or start generating revenue.

The next place most entrepreneurs look is a bank or investor.  The problem with going to a bank first is they require excellent credit scores, a solid business with financial statements and tax returns that have growing profits.  Early stage companies rarely can do that.

This leaves seeking the help of investors.  Finding investors can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Early stage entrepreneurs should be looking for are investors referred to as “Angels”.

Angel investors are typically entrepreneurs and top executives who have made lots of money and now want to invest that money in another venture.  However, they don’t want to have to build it.  Instead, they find other entrepreneurs with the foundation to grow their investment to 20, 50 or 100 times its value.

Angel investors are looking for big returns because of the risk involved with early stage companies.  According to the Angel Capital Association, only 1 in 100 entrepreneurs who approach an angel investor group will get funded.

Based on personal experience of investing in deals as an angel and working with other angel investors here are the results of what an angel will see out of 10 companies they fund.

  • 4 will go bankrupt
  • 3 will produce a 10% – 25% return for the investor
  • 2 will create a 30% – 50% return
  • Only 1 will have over a 100% return for the investors.

Before I personally invest as an angel investor I want to see that the entrepreneur has exhausted all options of getting funding from the four F’s.  In addition, I need to see three critical things from the entrepreneur: Passion, Focus and Team.

I gauge the passion when I interview the entrepreneur and listen to their presentation.  I can uncover the details of the team that has been assembled by reviewing the business plan.  The team doesn’t have to be all paid employees.  I’m fine if the team includes some paid consultants, executives working at another company in a related field or mentors for the entrepreneur that have a good deal of experience in starting a company.

The Process

To understand the focus of the entrepreneur, I’m looking at all aspects of the entrepreneur’s request;

  • Executive Summary
  • Presentation
  • Slide Deck
  • Full Business Plan
  • and Interviews

Prior to seeking capital from an angel investor or angel investor group entrepreneurs must have the following put together.  In addition, they should have someone with experience review each and provide feedback.

First is an elevator pitch.  Regardless if you are seeking capital now or not, having an elevator pitch is critical.  Here is a quick template you can use to develop one:

“Hi my name is______.  I work with (your target market) helping them (do/be/have) (your area of expertise) so that (the results they get).”

If the majority of people I speak with looking for an investor could consolidate their elevator pitch to this format, I would have a lot more deals to introduce to my angel investor network.

Next is a “One Page Pitch”.  The “One Page Pitch” is an executive summary that provides the foundation for an investor to understand what your opportunity is all about.

When entrepreneurs approach me as an investor they typically want to hand me their business plan.  I, like most investors, don’t have the time or the desire to read through a 40-100 page business plan to see if the opportunity is something we’re interested in.

In cases where the entrepreneur doesn’t have the one page pitch, I suggest they go to www.Gust.com.  The site provides a great template to develop a one page pitch to include exactly what investors like myself want to see.

Once I’ve reviewed the one page pitch and if I have an interest in learning more, now I’ll ask for the full business plan.  The third item required is the full business plan.  The plan is typically 20-50 pages plus appendices and it must include financial reports.  Prior to an entrepreneur presenting the plan to an angel investor, they need to have multiple people critic the business plan for them.

Again, from personal experience, I can tell you that the majority of entrepreneurs do not have any professionals review the plan, or if they did, they weren’t very good.  An entrepreneur should have an accountant look over the financials, a marketing executive review the competitive analysis and marketing plan and a few other random people give them their opinion on the clarity of the plan.

Last, an entrepreneur must have a presentation put together that covers their entire business plan in less than 20 minutes.  When I first started out investing as an angel, I had a mentor of mine tell me, “Serious investors don’t invest in business plans they invest in people”.  After reading through several business plans prior to hearing the advice, I realized the amount of time looking at them was wasted if I didn’t like the entrepreneur.

No matter how good of a plan they put together, or team they assembled, or the size of the opportunity, I wasn’t going to invest a single dollar unless I liked the entrepreneur.  All angel investors may not have the same view, but the ones I know all do.

If an entrepreneur gets the opportunity to present their business in front of an angel investor group but aren’t good at delivering presentations, they need to hire someone to teach them presentation skills.  They should also practice giving the presentation multiple times to anyone who will listen.  This will help with the likeability factor.

A Bit Of Luck

At every stage of the business life cycle, entrepreneurs need a bit of luck.  However, luck isn’t going to come to those who wait for it.

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.  By preparing ahead of time and knowing what to look for, opportunities will arise to produce “luck” for the entrepreneur.

So prepare early, stay focused and alert, but be willing to listen to the opportunities that arise even if they may take you in a new direction.

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