5 Tips to Help Your Business Get Acquired

acquisition

Many major players in the technology industry have an acquisition mindset—some companies feature entire divisions focused on identifying and procuring the next hot startup. Entrepreneurs launching new ventures who are looking for acquisition as an exit strategy need to understand why companies are bought and how to best position theirbusiness within the market. The following include five tips from Rachael Qualls, founder and CEO of Angel Capital Group, to help get your startup in line to be acquired.

Having market appeal
Having an attractive product with customers clamoring for it is the first and foremost reason why any big company might be interested in you. Having a disruptive force in market may entice acquirers to give money for your project.

Make it essential
A product which serves consumers need could make your business the next big thing. If your product is essential to a consumer’s lifestyle or provides real bottom-line value to a business, it will not only be wanted—it will be needed. Acquirers find this attractive, as gaining customer loyalty and maintaining long-term relationships will help generate income on a regular basis.

Streamline adoption
The easier it is to consume, integrate and use your product, the more attractive you will look to the acquirer. Do not overpromise and under-deliver. The easier your product is to incorporate into a customer’s life, the more likely it is to happen.

Hire and retain the best talent
One of the main reasons big companies acquire startups is for talent. Good startups have great talent, but only a few do a good job of consistently raising the bar for their staff or thinning out those who made sense for a startup but don’t work well for a maturing business. By doing so, you will attract more talent and position yourself as an innovative company. This will further boost acquirer’s confidence.

Control the bottom line
The efficiency of your business talks a lot about your priorities. While working lean is the key, the amount you have at the end of every year to invest in company’s future increases your credibility with the investors and acquirers. Being mature about how you handle your business finances impacts the overall health of your business – make sure your team is making smart, strategic decisions with every expense. By keeping your costs low, acquirers will have a vision of your priorities and they will have more confidence in your ability to manage your company to its ultimate goal—financial and marketplace success.

Once you are making money off a customer base that can grow with a product or service that can scale, companies may start looking into the possibility of acquiring your startup.

Please feel free to share what other factors you feel are important for acquisition.

For more information on this topic, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229027

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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6 Signs It’s Time to Take Your Start-up in a New Direction (Part 2)

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In the previous blog post, we explored some of the typical reasons that might require you to think of a possible reason for pivot in your business.

The second part of this series will help you to understand some more these reasons to pay attention to.

The money’s not there
In business, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and realize and acknowledge when things are not working. This can be hard for entrepreneurs, as you’re working on your dream business. However, it’s important to realize when something just won’t work. Your company won’t survive in this entrepreneurial world if it cannot make money.

A competitor is doing it better
Amazon was not the first online bookseller and eBay was not the first auction site. They just did it better than their predecessors. If you are consistently losing to your competitors, it may be a signal that your price is wrong or that you are not differentiated enough from your rivals. If that is the case, it may be time to consider a pivot.
Metrics will help tell you the story and help you to determine whether or not your efforts are successful.

The thrill is gone
A startup needs enthusiasm and passion, not just from its founders, but also from people who are part of your team. When you feel that low moments start to outnumber the good moments, it might be time to reboot. Alex White, cofounder of Next Big Sound says “Entrepreneurship is so difficult; if it’s not gripping you and exciting, that’s probably a clear sign to switch, because it certainly doesn’t get easier.”
Don’t be shy of changing course—better late than never. Your startup might be your passion, and it can be hard to let go, but it is wiser to change course and save it well within time than close it forever.

Have you experienced the challenges of a startup that wasn’t working? If so, how did you deal with those challenges?
For more, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229410

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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6 Signs It’s Time to Take Your Start-up in a New Direction

Few startups start with ideas that turn into major successes right from the beginning. For most startups, at some point your company will need to change its course of action and correct its original idea, pitch, product or execution. There are several signs an entrepreneur can look for—such as performance metrics, market feedback, or the general mood at the office—which can help to determine if the company should continue in its original direction or try something new.6a00d8341c858253ef00e54fec4aae8834-640wi

“Ideas are cheap but execution is hard,” says Scott Jacobson, managing director of Madrona Venture Group in Seattle. “As you hear market feedback, listen to customers and see how they experience your product, it’s not uncommon to have to consider the fact that you may not have nailed it on the first go, and be open-minded to a pivot.”

How do you know it is time? As part of the two part series of articles, the following are three of the six indicators that a pivot might be wise.

One piece works better than the whole
It is important to step back and see the real reason for the success of your business. As an example, StyleZen, a shopping site launched in 2011, was struggling to expand its user base. They could not figure out why they were spending so much to grow, so they started to experiment by creating in-house tool using Pinterest to increase followers and traffic. Before they knew, they had their “aha” moment. StyleZen was shut down and the team decided to pivot into new role: using technologies to help business leverage Pinterest as a marketing vehicle. What StyleZen did was recognizing the distinction by applying the bigger picture.

You misjudged the market
Many startups forge ahead believing the market is eager for whatever solution they are about to introduce, only to find that the target audience is not interested after all. It is not about finding the right users, it is about value proposition not generating sufficient interest for most to give it a try.

As an example, if your company offers some free-to-paid services and you find conversion rate from trial to purchase is low, it is a clear sign that your product or service is a “nice to have” option for consumers, as opposed to “need to have.” That might be a sign to pivot the product and find where it can best address a pain point that’s more compelling than the one currently being solved.

You’re missing industry standards
It’s important to know whether the sales cycle for your target customer is four to six months, or whether sales typically come in the form of a quick yes or no. If you find you are not getting the due results in that time frame, it is a pretty good red flag that you are outside the norm of the industry. After this happens for more than once or twice, you have to realize there is a problem and it needs to change.

For more, please visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229410

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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How to Deal with Recruiting Mistakes

mistake_largeOne of the most difficult aspects of leading a business is having to deal with firing people. The hiring/firing process is much more challenging for a start-up that lacks resources (such as a formal HR department). For startups, it is crucial that all team members are performing as per expectations—meaning that every employee has a unique position and any inefficiency could hurt the company.

In business, non-performing (and even under-performing) employees in a small company can dramatically lower your company’s productivity. As per the author of this article, Mark Suster, a two-time entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, refers to this issue as PURE: Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.

Mark believes in the mantra of Hire Fast/Fire Fast, meaning that in large companies, the recruiting process can be very tedious and take months. With startups, time is of the essence. That is not too say that you shouldn’t spend time making sure you have the right candidate, but be sure not to over-analyze potential recruits and chew up valuable months with business functions unfilled.

If and when you do choose to let a team member go, after the initial state of shock of the firing process, there is usually a sense of relief and well-being. Most teams realize a bad apple faster than the team leader does. Failing to act undermines confidence. It is better to own up to the original hiring mistake and deal with the issue as soon as you can.

Some organizations follow a “temporary contractor period” policy, in which everyone is on probation for six months before becoming permanent. This policy might work for some companies, but it also has the potential of turning off some potentially great prospective employees. In the US, a company has the right to terminate any employee at will (subject to contracts already in place). However, it is important to consult a lawyer before implementing a firing or layoff.

If you made a mistake in recruiting and if someone is a PURE employee, it will be beneficial to the entire company if you deal with it quickly and efficiently. That way, your company can focus on the tasks at hand and on finding a strong employee to replace that person.

For more information, visit: http://www.inc.com/mark-suster/how-to-deal-with-pure-recruiting-mistakes.html

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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Overcoming the Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face

Women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of the small business community. Although creating businesses at this fast pace, there are some significant road blocks that women business owners have to face that are different than their male counterparts.

According to Nicole Fallon, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer, some of the biggest challenges women face include the following:shutterstock_88251427-984x1024

Pressure to act a certain way
When women entrepreneurs have to talk business with primarily male executives, it can sometimes be intimidating. When you own a business, you are constantly negotiating deals with many different people and many times. To compensate and protect themselves, some women feel they need to adopt a stereotypical male attitude that can include things like being competitive, aggressive or overly harsh. Hilary Genga, founder and CEO of a women’s swimwear company called Trunkettes, advises women entrepreneurs to “be yourself and to not conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.”

Emotions and nurturing skills
In general, women are more emotional than men—at times, this can stand in the way of running a business. For women, business is not just about bottom line, it is an emotional connection—sometimes, that can hold women back in making tough decisions. Women tend to be relationship-oriented in business and they feel building on relationships will naturally lead to a sale, which is sometimes the case. However, at other times it is important to be direct and stay focused on your business goals.

Lack of support
There aren’t as many women as men in leadership positions—meaning there are less women to seek out to be role models, act as sounding boards, or create business deals with. Even though the number of female executives and business owners is increasing, it can still difficult to find fellow women entrepreneurs to connect with. One can use women-focused networking events like American Express OPEN’s CEO Bootcamp as a good places to start, as well as online forums and groups specifically created for women in business. There are also 100 women business centers located across the U.S. that run programs and training specifically design for women entrepreneurs.

Work/life balance
Work life balance is a popular topic among entrepreneurs and anyone in business. Mothers who start a business have to simultaneously run their families and their companies, which can be challenging and stressful. “Mompreneurs” have dual responsibilities to their family and their business and finding time to balance the two is not an easy task for anyone.

Fear of failure
According to Babson College’s 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor, the fear of failure is a top concern of women who launch startups. Women need to work hard at ignoring that inner voice that discourages you from taking action.

For more information, visit: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5268-women-entrepreneur-challenges.html

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

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How to Build a Win-Win Networking Relationship

We live in a fast-paced world with ever-changing technology and new ways of doing business. Although people tend to connect more through social media and online, business is still done best in person. Making connections and building your network is important. Yes, it takes time and patience, but when done correctly, it can help you build your business while giving you confidence and an increased network of individuals to go to for advice.

7K0A0597The following are several networking tips, as outlined on Forbes.com by business coach Sharon Michaels, to help you create meaningful relationships with business contacts and potential clients/customers:

Understand your target market

Research well so you can network with your target market. It is important to strategically choose your networking opportunities since you are going to spend your valuable time and energy on this activity. Make plans to attend networking functions where you connect with your target market or with people who can introduce you to individuals within your target market. Build a quality network; not a quantity one—it is about meeting the right people.

Know what you bring to the table

Networking is not just about you. It is also about what you bring to table. Take a hard look at what you can offer as an effective networker. Are you willing to spend time and energy building those professional contacts? Networking is a powerful tool when it is a win-win for all involved.

Have a goal in mind

You should know realistically how networking fits into your overall business-building plan. What is your networking objective? How will you measure networking success? Don’t attend networking functions just to wander around. Think about what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish and how you’re planning to do so.

Give value to receive value

The entire purpose of building relationships is so that it creates value for everyone. Having a mindset where you give as much as you receive will take you a long way in building strong and trustworthy relationships. As per the law of reciprocity, whatever form of value you give, be it service or monetary, you are likely to receive the same or greater value in return.

Follow up promptly

If you don’t intend to follow up on your network of people, don’t waste your time and that of others. The purpose of building a network is to develop a solid win-win business building relationship. The goal should not be to collect business cards, but rather to starting building strong relationships. It is not just about what you want to achieve. Let your fellow networkers know that you want to support their success as well.

Finally, it’s important to remember that some relationships develop immediately, while others can take much longer.

For more information about creating a meaningful networking strategy, please visit the complete article online: http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2013/05/21/heres-how-to-build-a-win-win-networking-relationship/

Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!

Photo credit: iStockPhoto

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