As you start or grow a business, you will come across a few gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are bankers, business analysts and managers of government or other programs that might provide grants to your business. While they are responsible to protect their employers’ funds, they can also play an important role in making opportunities possible for entrepreneurs.
A gatekeeper’s first order of business will be to perform the due diligence necessary to determine if your business idea is viable. She will evaluate whether or not you can live up to all those amazing promises made in your business plan, before taking your proposal forth to run the gauntlet with her boss or the decision making committee. The experience can be daunting to a newbie, but it really shouldn’t be.
As you work with gatekeepers, they invariably help you build a stronger business plan. Often they are highly knowledgeable generalists who research and evaluate a broad range of businesses. They can usually recognize whether you’re off or on track, and can become tremendous allies in your business endeavors.
Here are nine tips for working effectively with gatekeepers:
1. Be curious, be a learner, and be coachable!
2. Prepare for your discussions and . . .Continue reading Be Nice To The Gatekeepers You Meet
After years of getting cuffed around in the marketplace, it is my pleasure to share these foolproof strategies. No matter how well you are doing today, the following methods are sure to drive your small business into the ground.
Be a know-it-all. Instead of adopting a learning attitude, be defensive and refuse to admit that anyone might know more than you about the business. Snub business analysts, counsellors, lawyers and bankers. Do not be curious. Don’t waste valuable time listening or talking to customers. Ignore them, they’re takers. They rarely say anything of substance and they can suck up a lot of your precious time. Why do you think the good Lord gave you one mouth and two ears? So you could growl at customers without pausing your IPod or interrupting your cell phone conversation. Reel ‘em in, get the money, kick ‘em out. Do not smile. Smiling is a sign of weakness. Be tough. Use the time-tested tools of terror: scowls, snarls and sneers. The slick thing about this method is that you only have to do it consciously the first few times, after that it happens habitually and you can effortlessly alienate customers without even having to think . . .Continue reading Seven Fool-Proof Ways of Going Broke
No matter how brilliant a business idea might be, no matter how eloquent the business plan, certain deal breakers will stop it in its tracks. Deal breakers are the secrets you would rather not share with your business analyst or banker, though you probably should.
If you are preparing your business plan in order to apply for a loan to start or grow a business, here are some common deal breakers you should know about:
1. Inadequate Equity. You have undoubtedly heard gripping stories about folks who wangle 100% financing without investing a dime of their own. Those tales make great fodder for talk shows and infomercials, but lack of equity is usually a deal breaker in the real business world. Unless you’re borrowing from love ones, business start-ups should plan to bring at least 20% equity to the deal.
2. Cards & Toys. This means ballooned credit card balances and a backyard bursting with toys, such as boats, bikes, and skidoos. There is nothing wrong with owning toys if you can afford them; it’s the high interest loans with outstanding balances and endless minimum payments that break the deal. It’s easy to fall into the “cards & toys” trap . . .Continue reading New Business Deal Breakers
There’s no doubt that forecasting or attempting to predict the future in any way, is considered by many to be a mild form of insanity.
Forecasting is one area of business planning that entrepreneurs tend to resist. There are many reasons for this.
Beyond spending, many people simply don’t like to deal with money matters. Unless you’ve previously owned a business, the entire business financial arena tends to be a vast, spooky mystery. Those who have weathered a financial black eye in their personal lives are inclined to be apprehensive about tackling the management of business finances.
Many people assume that forecasting is the same as accounting, and that it should be left to highly skilled professionals, such as bankers, accountants and MBA’s. And yet, the process of forecasting is sure to be a healthy learning experience for owners and anyone thinking about starting a business.
To dispel myths and misguided fears about forecasting, it is helpful to clarify what it is… and what it isn’t. One way to do this is to identify the ways that forecasting differs from accounting.
Forecasting is an educated guess at future scenarios, while accounting is a detailed compilation of . . .Continue reading Forecasting Isn’t the Same as Accounting