You should devote time and effort to building a great website for your business. Prospective investors, customers, and partners are going to check out your site, and you want to impress them with a professional product. Here are some tips for building a great company website:.
You should be able to slightly modify your elevator pitch depending on whether you are pitching to prospective investors, customers, employees, or partners. Here are a few tips for developing and delivering a great elevator pitch:. If you start your company with co-founders, you should agree early on about the details of your business relationship.
Banks will ask for your EIN when you open a company bank account. A comprehensive reference check includes:. However, the process is carefully regulated by the federal government through the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the laws of many states; failure to follow the highly technical process can lead to class action lawsuits. Oral agreements often lead to misunderstandings. If you plan to hire a prospective employee, use a carefully drafted offer letter, which the employee should be encouraged to review carefully before signing.
For senior executives, a more detailed employment agreement often makes sense. A good offer letter or employment agreement will address the following key items:. Companies should ensure that the employee and the company sign the letter, the Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement, any Stock Option Agreement, and any first-day paperwork such as the IRS W-4 Form for withholding and the I-9 form mandated by law. Companies pay employees to come up with ideas, work product, and inventions that may be useful to the business. One basic way to protect proprietary company information is through the use of a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement.
This type of agreement deals with confidentiality issues, but can also ensure that the ideas, work product, and inventions the employee creates that are related to company business belong to the company—not the employee. A good Employee Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement will cover the following key points:. Venture capitalists and other investors in startups expect to see that all employees of the company have signed these kinds of agreements. Similarly, it will be appropriate that all consultants of the company also sign a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement.
Ever wary of minimizing burn rate, startups may be tempted to defer investment in intellectual property protection. To those who have not tried to protect intellectual property, it feels complex and expensive. Too often, startups end up forfeiting intellectual property rights by neglecting to protect their ideas and inventions.
Some simple and cost-effective techniques can minimize the anxiety, yet help protect core assets. Companies sometimes think that patent protection is the only way to protect themselves. Technology startups frequently ignore the value of non-patent intellectual property. Trade secrets, cybersecurity policies, trademarks, and copyrights can all be forms of IP that can be protected. If the business is to become successful, you must become a great salesperson. You must practice your sales pitch, get feedback from a variety of people, and then refine your pitch.
Even if you are not naturally an extrovert, you need to show confidence, follow up, and ask for the sale.
Raising Funds For Your Startup: Guide To Approach Investors
Establishing a detailed, month-by-month budget is crucial, and this budget must be reviewed regularly. Understanding your financial statements will also help you answer questions from prospective investors. Here are some financial statement questions you can expect to get from investors:. To succeed in business, you need to continually be attracting, building, and even educating your target market. Make sure your marketing strategy includes the following:. At the early stages of your startup, you will likely want to have a small employee team to minimize expenses.
A good way to fill in for specialized expertise is to use freelancers or consultants. That way, you avoid taking on employee costs and benefits payments. And there are a variety of sites that can help you access freelancers, such as Freelancer. Raising capital from investors is difficult and time consuming. Too many startups make a number of avoidable mistakes when creating their investor pitch decks.
While entire books have been written on this topic, the key ways to drive traffic to your website are as follows:.
But keep refining the concept of the invention, as version 1 of your idea probably can be improved and enhanced through version 2 and version 3. And you should then get input from trusted business and finance advisors. In reality, many startups have to deviate from their plan as the business develops. Depending on the nature of the business, you may need the following permits, licenses, or regulations:. If you are going to go through the time and effort to start a business, you need to protect it by purchasing appropriate insurance coverage.
Your first order of business should be to determine your specific insurance needs based on the nature of your business. Ask yourself what risks must be covered and how much coverage will be sufficient. Then find and evaluate insurance providers or insurance brokers to determine which companies handle the types of coverage that suits your needs. But everyone involved should discuss this issue and come to an agreement up front to avoid misunderstandings later on. The split should take into account the following:. Startups seeking financing often turn to venture capital VC firms, which can provide capital; strategic assistance; introductions to potential customers, partners, and employees; and much more.
Venture capital financings are not easy to obtain or close. Entrepreneurs will be better prepared to obtain VC financing if they understand the process, the anticipated deal terms, and the potential issues that will arise. To understand the process of obtaining VC financing, it is important to know that venture capitalists typically focus their investment efforts using one or more of the following criteria:. Before approaching a venture capitalist, try to learn whether his or her focus aligns with your company and its stage of development.
The second key point to understand is that VCs get inundated with investment opportunities, many through unsolicited emails—almost all of those unsolicited emails are ignored. The best way to get the attention of a VC is to have a warm introduction through a trusted colleague, entrepreneur, or lawyer friendly to the VC. Startups should also understand that the venture process can be very time consuming—just getting a meeting with a principal of a VC firm can take weeks; followed up with more meetings and conversations; followed by a presentation to all of the partners of the venture capital fund; followed by the issuance and negotiation of a term sheet, with continued due diligence; and finally the drafting and negotiation by lawyers on both sides of numerous legal documents to evidence the investment.
VCs usually want to see that your business has made some progress and gotten some traction in the market; they will typically not fund a very early stage company or just an idea. For that, you are better off seeking angel investors. For a comprehensive article on the venture capital financing process, see A Guide to Venture Capital Financings for Startups.
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Business contracts are legally binding written agreements between two or more parties. While smaller businesses will often conduct business based on informal handshake agreements or unspoken understandings, the more that is at stake, the more essential it is to have a signed contract. A contract serves as the rules that must be followed by both parties.
Why small is the new big - the case for bootstrapping
It presents each party with the opportunity to:. A contract is, in essence, a written meeting of the minds. While it is typically drawn up by one party and favors the needs and requirements of that party, protecting them from most if not all liabilities, it should initially be thought of as a work in progress that changes and grows as each party contributes prior to signing, after which it becomes an official document. A startup has to make sure it is comfortable with all of the terms of the contract, and depending on the deal dynamics, almost any term is negotiable.
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Is your new startup idea worth pursuing? From assembling your team, to incorporating the business, there are a ton of moving parts to forming a startup. Every great business starts with a great business plan. How do you bring a new product to market? Get a crash course on how to navigate the entire product journey and avoid getting lost on the path to commercialization.
How do you find your first customers? Let us show you the fastest way to identify and locate raving fans while using test methods to refine your message and expand customer acquisition. Building a kickass company culture takes more than putting a ping pong table in the lobby. Learn how to create a work environment nurtures productivity and gets your team fired up to come into the office. How do startups actually get funded? No problem.
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