Monthly Archives: July, 2017

When Should You Plan to Access Capital?

July 24th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Business Plan 0 thoughts on “When Should You Plan to Access Capital?”

access to capitalSometimes, you need access to capital – a cash infusion to make your dream a reality. Hard work isn’t always enough. Don’t let that prospect scare you because there are options. It is up to you how well you prepare for them.

Micah Dickson, Small Business Community Lender with Fifth Third Bank was a recent guest on the Business is ART podcast entitled “Access to Capital.” We talked about a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to seeking funding for your business or startup.

Some of the highlights from that episode are summarized here. You can listen to the show in its entirety on iTunes, through the TrueChat app or at the Business is ART page on the TrueChat website.

What are some capital funding options?

There are a variety of sources to which you might turn for a cash infusion, including:

  • Your bank account, retirement account, and other assets
  • Your friends and family

If you are like many entrepreneurs and business owners, you will likely exhaust those options first. But then what? Again there are multiple options, including:

  • Crowd Funding
  • Crowd Lending
  • Commercial/Small Business Loan
  • Private Equity Investor (PE)
  • Venture Capital Investor (VC)

Crowd Funding and Crowd lending can be very effective. Within the parameters of the Crowd Funding or Lending service provider, you can define what donors and lenders receive in exchange for providing you with cash.

But just like selling your products, there is a huge marketing and PR game you have to play in order to attract people and entice them to give, which can be a downside.

What is the least expensive kind of traditional external capital?

Of the three traditional forms of external funding (bank loan, PE and VC), the loan is the least expensive option.

Some may mistakenly believe that PE and VC options represent “free money.” Not true. VC and PE options may very well be the best options for you and your business, but they come at a price.

Typically, that price comes in two forms: control and ownership. When a VC or a PE gets involved, they typically will take some control of the business direction. They are investing in you as well as the business, so they aren’t likely to take total control, but they will at least influence direction. That theoretically is a good thing, unless you insist on total control.

The PE and VC also take some percentage of ownership, so you will no longer own the entire business. They are going to want their money back, plus a significant chunk of cash on top. That may come from selling the business, selling their share of the business, or receiving significant portions of the revenue or profits generated from the business. At the end of the day, this can be very expensive to you.

The bank, on the other hand, wants one thing: to be paid back with interest. That’s it. You maintain 100% of ownership and control.

The downside is that there may be more hurdles to accessing capital through a bank because a bank wants to be very sure it is going to get its money back. The bank wants as close to a sure thing as possible, so it is going to scrutinize more deeply and look for more existing capital and assets from your business and from you personally.

A PE or VC, on the other hand, is placing more of a bet. They know not all of their bets will pay off, which is a primary reason they demand so much more in terms of control, equity, and payback.

When should you start planning to access external capital?

Before you need it.

Assume that at some point you will need access to capital, even if you never will or think you never will. Then prepare for it by doing the following:

  • Take care of your personal credit – it will matter
  • Prepare and maintain a business plan – it will be required
  • Create a team of trusted advisors, then seek their on-going advice – accountant/financial advisor, attorney, insurance agent, business consultant/coach, advisory board

If you do these things, not only will your business run more smoothly and successfully, you will be better prepared – by far – should the time come to seek a cash infusion.

Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation

July 17th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation”

who are youDo you use LinkedIn for lead generation?

I sat in on a free webinar by lead generation expert Doug McIsaac the other day and found it very informative. I’m not a paid spokesperson for Doug, but if you are considering a LinkedIn campaign or making it a part of your daily sales, marketing and PR strategy, you might want to check him out (

When to use LinkedIn

Doug began the webinar by talking a little bit about the various social media platforms available, and which makes the most sense under what circumstances. Of course, the first rule of thumb is use the platform your target audience is on.

But a couple of additional generic rules of thumb that Doug left us with include:

  • If you’re selling a consumer product for less than $1000, LinkedIn is not the place to be. Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram may be better choices depending on what “it” is.
  • If you are selling business to business (B2B), LinkedIn should be your primary social media platform – for a number of reasons.

The 5 Pillars of LinkedIn Lead Generation

The title of Doug’s webinar was the ‘5 Pillars of LinkedIn Lead Generation.” With his permission, they are listed here:

Pillar #1 – Know your customer

Pillar #2 – Have the right offer

Pillar #3 – Position yourself correctly (prove you are the authority)

Pillar #4 – Have a smart messaging strategy

Pillar #5 – Make it easy for them to work with you

All of these pillars make so much sense, and yet we are all prone to ignoring them from time-to-time (and some of us never catch on). Doug’s webinar really was excellent so check it out sometime for the details behind each of the pillars.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about one of them.

Know your customer

We see it all the time – good ideas, good products, good businesses – gone bad because there is no effort to really understand who the customer is. It’s not always easy.

We tend to want to think, “EVERYONE is a potential customer!”

We love what we have to offer so much that we falsely assume EVERYONE ought to love it.

But that’s just not the case. We have to take the time to really understand exactly who might be interested in what we have and – importantly – why. We have to empathize with and think like the customer.

But there is more to it

Consumers are looking for the experience as much as, if not more than, the product or service.

When you take the time to know your customer, you can tailor your message to him or her, making it much more personal than the “Hey…you….I know I got the goods you need” type of message that we see from so many businesses that are in love with their automated mass email marketing software.

Those things are an instant turn-off, even when they manage to correctly insert your name in the first sentence of the email, and use the same font as is used in the rest of the email.

But when you get to know the customer and tailor the message for that customer, their experience is already improved before they’ve ever spent a dime on your product or service. They feel like they know you because you know them.

Tell Us More

With that in mind, you’re invited to tell us about yourselves. What do you do? What makes you unique? What do you need and want? We’d love to hear your story, so please share it in the comments here or use the contact page to share it privately.



You Should Put Yourself on a PIP

July 10th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Business is ART 0 thoughts on “You Should Put Yourself on a PIP”

PIPI’ve been put on a Performance Improvement Plan…a PIP!!! My. Career. Is. Over.

That’s kind of what we think of a PIP, isn’t it? Because, that’s kind of what it classically is. It’s bad news. It means you really ticked someone off. It means you better meet all of the objectives defined in the PIP or you’re headed out the door.

The old CYA

From a manager’s perspective, putting someone on a PIP is the final step before freeing the employee up to pursue other opportunities. It’s a way to cover the proverbial butt to make sure there is no case to be made regarding the unfair treatment of the soon to be departing employee.

But it shouldn’t be. It should genuinely be a tool to help an employee reach his or her potential. Often, an employee struggles because goals and objectives were never made clear. It’s hard to hit a target if no one has ever told you what the target is. With a PIP, there is no question.

Why didn’t I think of that?

I was recently speaking with David Brentley and Avion Johnson of Credit Reinventors about Plan Canvas, the soon-to-be-released business planning software based on my book Business is ART, when David hit me with a “eureka moment.”

He said, “You know, what we are really talking about with this software is a perpetual performance improvement plan for the organization.”

We then talked about how PIPs have such negative connotation but really shouldn’t. We should all be on PIPs all the time because we should be striving to do better every day. But we reserve PIPs as a last ditch effort to encourage an employee to do better…duh!

We should all be on a PIP

We should be on PIPs. Our businesses and organizations should be on PIPs. All the time, not just when things have gone badly.

I can’t wait to make Plan Canvas available to you…and put you on that PIP that you so richly deserve (insert maniacal laugh here).

Click here to be kept up-to-date on the beta test and release plans of Plan Canvas.

Top 3 Ways to Stop Clicking On the Top 3 Ways to do Something Headlines

July 2nd, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Top 3 Ways to Stop Clicking On the Top 3 Ways to do Something Headlines”

top 3You know you’ve done it. You do it all the time. We all do it. As Mel Brooks’ character King Louis XVI says in the classic movie History of the World Part I, “I just did it and I’m ready to do it again, don’t tell me you don’t do it!”

What is “it”? Clicking on those damned headlines that say Top 3 Ways, Top 3 Secrets, Top 3 Reasons, etc., etc. etc. Don’t like the number 3? Look for the same headlines with the numbers 5, 9 or 11…maybe even go as high as 50 or 100 if you are feeling really crazy.

3 shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be 3

Headlines like that are used because, reportedly, science says we are more likely to click on them than headlines like, “Here’s something you should consider,” or “Hey, you, I’d like to share some real world experience with you.”

Who are these people?

Who is writing these things and what makes them such an expert on the 3 things? How do they know they are the top 3 things? How do they know the 3 things aren’t just a few of many things, none really being any better or more on top than the other, un-named things?

Sometimes the author is legitimate, using real research or experience to back up their claims. Sometimes it’s an intern that has no real experience and is just throwing crap out there because it makes for great traffic, might be a good read, but doesn’t really provide you with any new information.

Are those 3 things really informative?

Sometimes those top 3 things are no more informative than this – Top 3 Ways to Not Die:

  1. Keep breathing
  2. Don’t let your heart stop beating
  3. Become immortal

Top 3 ways to make it stop

So how can you stop falling for those “Top 3 Ways” headlines? Here are the top 3 ways:

  1. Check who authored the article, blog etc. Look at their experience and accomplishments. Then decide if you want to read the stuff they write or not.
  2. Look at the number of comments and reviews of the piece.
  3. Look at the profiles of people that follow the author.

If any of it smells a little funny, it’s probably because it’s rotten.

And if all else fails, click on it anyway, read it, and discard it immediately. That might be faster.

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