What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Raising Capital Today

Because of the low yield today in bonds and other investment classes, and competition for deals, valuations of early-stage ventures have been creeping up.

Many would say that is long overdue, but investors need compensation for the high risk of these ventures too. And frankly almost no one can pick mostly winners due to the many inherent unknowns at the early stage of any venture.

This article is an introduction to the financing of any early-stage company across the stages from seed to Series B. The financing landscape today has changed radically with many more options. Some financing is easier to get but generally, equity financing is hard to get for most companies without a revenue history.  Everything you learned about this topic in the last ten years, or that the press printed more than one or two years ago, may now be obsolete. 

Sure, there are unicorns and $10M+ investment every day, but there are about 5,000,000 new companies formed every year in the U.S. alone...

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The First 100 Days of Starting a Company

The journey from idea to launching a successful company is a long and arduous one requiring thousands of good decisions and skills very few people possess. In fact, few people even know what those skills are and could list them. Even many successful Entrepreneurs who do it by nature, gut and experience lack an understanding of the process and cannot teach it to others. Teaching it requires a whole other level of analysis and awareness to document the process.

Most people that start companies have no clue how hard it will be to climb the mountain of corporate success. Almost no one has the skills needed when they first start. They are learned along the way and always have a price. The ones that survive are the tenacious, the creative and the smart that rapidly adapt to the feedback from the market and zero in on a product-market fit that is compelling. As well as messaging that makes for successful marketing. This can take many months, or even many years. However, the way to...

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Seven Tips for Becoming a Great CEO

It takes a decade to become a great CEO and several years just to be a good one. There are "born leaders" with natural talent in leadership and the confidence required.  But there are no born "Experienced CEOs" that takes lots of effort.  Like any other art.  Being a CEO is the most complex job in the world.  Far more complex and controls than the cockpit of a B2 bomber.  The difference being that some of those controls are people, and you can never be sure what they will do.  Or even if they will be there.  Imagine landing a B2 in bad weather when you were not sure what each control would do. Yep, that is what running a company with even a dozen people is about.  

It is important to spend time "sharpening the saw".  This should be a multifaceted approach and include several regular self-improvement efforts put in your schedule:

1. Focus on doing what you are best at and delegate other things.  We never do a good job on...

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Top Ten Rules For Start-Up Success

In my experience, few people understand the many different ways that a start-up must be managed as compared to more mature companies. Decisions must be faster, risks must be higher, and the solutions that are developed must be less complete (80% or less) and more narrowly targeted. During the bubble many "big company" executives were recruited to run startups with little more than an idea and a huge VC investment. This, of course, came back to haunt the investors when they realized too late that running a startup is a very different animal than a larger company. Most of these executives, though looking good on paper and in front of a board, were fish out of water in any startup company, no matter how much money they had in the bank.

There are so many unknowns involved with a new product and market that you must ALWAYS iterate towards the best solution in increments – You cannot pretend to know all the answers up front. Odds are, many, many changes will be required along the...

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Recommend Reading For CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives

From The "Secrets Of A Serial Entrepreneur" Series

Make Your Business Grow Faster With Less Risk

Resources For CEOs and Entrepreneurs at Startup and Emerging Growth Companies

This article is a sample chapter from one of our books in "The Secrets of A Serial Entrepreneur" Series. To see the list of books, audio programs and DVDs click here now 

I try to read at least 2-3 new books per month and recommend this to any entrepreneur or executive as one of the best ways to continually improve and learn from others. Many people stop learning after leaving school, or after the first few years of working. Exceptional people constantly learn their entire lives, and constantly improve their own value. I always say if you are not on a learning curve, get a new job! Everything else will come if you constantly work to increase your personal value. 

I estimate that I have read over 1,000 books of nonfiction, mostly on business and related topics, and can recommend...

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The Financing Landscape for Startups and Early-Stage Companies Today

This article is an introduction to a broad range of financing across the stages from seed to Series B. The financing landscape today has change radically with many more options. Some financing is easier to get, but generally equity financing is harder to get.  Everything you learned in the last ten years may now be obsolete.

We are back to looking like the early 1990s again as everyone has "moved up the food chain" one to two levels. True Series A financings with money designed to develop the product are rare today and most first institutional investments are in companies with proven "traction", this means lots of sales completed. In the past, there were usually two rounds of financing before this was required, one to develop the product and another to accomplish the first several sales by testing the sales and marketing processes. This means you need to get much further on much less money.  This can mean adding a service component to your market entry strategy, corporate...

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Top Ten Tips for Raising Angel Financing Today

Top Ten Tips for Raising Angel Financing Today

By Bob Norton, Serial Entrepreneur and CEO Coach

Angel Investors (“Angels”) have become a much more important source of capital than ever before. Statistics show they have invested more than VCs in some past years and almost always invest more in early-stage deals. With VCs treating early-stage deals like they have the plague, young companies had better understand and use angel financing effectively. Note that VCs will tell you they do seed and early rounds but 90% really do not. They define “early” as have traction mostly, not funding product, unless there is a serious “done it before” management team that made money for investors before. Then they will always listen.

Unfortunately, angels are nervous that follow-on financing for the round after theirs will not be there and a good investment will go bad from a lack of available capital. This same phenomenon happened in the early 1990s....

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Top Ten Tips For Hiring A Senior Executive

TOP TEN TIPS FOR HIRING A SENIOR EXECUTIVE 

By Bob Norton, Serial Entrepreneur and CEO Coach 

There is no more important decision than choosing the people at the top of your organization. After all, they will hire or approve everyone else in the company, set the tome for values, and make virtually all key decisions that will mean success or failure every business day.

A structured approach to hiring that includes all of the following items must ALWAYS be followed for any senior-level hire (VP and above), where the cost of a mistake can often be a six-figure sum.

Understand the direction in which the Board of Directors wants to take the company over the next few years and how the requisite skills are represented or missing on the current management team. Understand and be prepared to provide the necessary resources for growth. These are not difficult to define at the macro level and the new executive will certainly fill in the details later. Consider the possibility of...

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