A brilliant business plan template

If you are starting, running or growing a business, you need a great business plan. If you are applying for a business loan you will also need a plan. Download now and build your dream.

Your completed business plan should include your business name, logo and other relevant details.

Remember, your plan is the foundation on which your business rests. It is vital when you try to attract funding, grants or even equity investment, but should also guide how you run your business day-to-day.

If you need help with your plan, read the ThinkBusiness.ie business plan guide for additional information.

The template covers all the main areas of a business plan. These are:

  • Executive summary: This is a brief summary of your overall business proposition, covering all the main elements of your plan.
  • Company description: This gives details of shareholders, advisers, your business’s legal status, your products or services, the long-term aim of the business and your goals.
  • Market analysis: Covers PESTLE and SWOT analyses.
  • Marketing and sales: Identifies customer trends and opportunities, a marketing and sales strategy, pricing and customer service.
  • Key people: This covers key employees and an organisation chart, if applicable.
  • R&D and business assets: This section covers R&D and assets in detail.
  • Financial forecasting: This covers financial information e.g. loans, guarantees. Assumptions and funding requirements are also included.
  • Appendices.


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Entrepreneurship While You are 20-Something – Go For It!

If you just cannot fathom working for someone else and making them rich; if you are an independent sort who works best on your own schedule; if you have one or two ideas for ways to make money – things that you are passionate about, then you are probably ripe for being an entrepreneur. And there is no better time than now to pursue that dream. Here’s why:

  • Statistics tell us that only 39% of you 20-somethings are married. This means that you have not responsibility for anyone but yourself. So if you eat Ramen noodles for a while, at least you are not forcing anyone else to do the same.
  • You can be selfish right now – you are pursuing things that make you happy and fulfilled.
  • You are young and have the energy, the risk-taking mindset, and you know that if you fail, you have lot of options for the rest of your life.

Recipe for Success

Over half of small business startups fail within 5 years. You don’t want to be a part of that statistic, so here are some important tips that will get you on your way:

  1. Base Your Business on Something You Love: Perhaps you have a hobby about which you are passionate. Is it something that others will value? Suppose you love to cook up great stuff. Opening a restaurant may be a bit ambitious, but how about a food truck? Do you have a specialty food that your friends rave about? Colonel Sanders ran a gas station and cooked his chicken in the back, eventually selling it to customers. Jessica Eckstrom had a passion for kids with cancer when she began her Headbands of Hope company – a multi-million dollar enterprise today. And she began her business at the age of 19. Can you turn your passionate hobby into a product or service for others?
  2. Start Small: You will probably not be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. But you can begin locally and move to a larger audience gradually. Many small businesses have failed because they were too grandiose in the beginning. Start small, build gradually, and then look for investors. Suppose you develop a very cool app or game. This is known as a “pop up” business. Get it out there on the Apple store and then begin your marketing campaign. And that campaign can be almost fully conducted via social media, the cheapest way to go. You will need to become a bit of an “expert” on social media marketing, but there is plenty of education out there for the taking.
  3. Remind Yourself of Your Goals Daily: You became an entrepreneur for a reason. When you become discouraged, think about why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. Do you now want to compromise those principles and goals? Of course not. You may need to re-group; you may need to pivot a bit. But always keep in mind the overriding reasons for what you are doing.
  4. Embrace Rejection: You may not be an overnight success. Those to whom you try to market your product or service may not be receptive. J.K. Rowling had over 200 rejections before a publisher took her first Harry Potter Think about that when you get discouraged about rejections and move on. You are young and resilient, and that is certainly in your favor.
  5. Use Your Social Media Presence: More than all generations before you, you have grown up with a web presence. Learn how to promote your business on social media. You have the skills – you just need to learn the strategies. Again, there is a wealth of training for free at your fingertips.
  6. Make Connections with Other Successful Entrepreneurs: If you want constant support and encouragement, you need to dump those friends and perhaps family members who are negative and naysayers. You cannot be around those attitudes. Join networking groups of other entrepreneurs both online and in person. Once you surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs, you have a cheerleading section that won’t quit. And you’ll learn quite a bit.
  7. Promote Your Brand Everywhere: Never attend a social event or go to a bar without an “elevator pitch” and a business card. People will ask you what you do. You need an exciting and compelling 30-second pitch to present, along with your card. You never know who you may encounter. 

If you are really serious about this “being on your own” stuff, and if you have the passion for what you are offering, the rest is all detail. Get going on your dream now – you are at exactly the right point in your lie to do so.

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5 Strategies To Streamline Your Small Business in 2016

Operating a business is a time consuming venture no matter how large or small your business is. Until we figure out how to extend the hours of a day, streaming business operations is your best way to maximizing productivity and profitability.

There are literally dozens of ways to streamline your business operations. Trying to implement them all can quickly become another time suck. Instead, focus on the five strategies below to start streamlining and saving time instantly:

Streamline Contact Management With a CRM

Leads and referrals are the lifeblood for all businesses. Managing contacts is something that has to be taken seriously, but doesn’t have to become a time-consuming burden. Customer relationship management (CRM) software makes staying in contact and nurturing leads an autopilot experience.

These systems keep all of your contacts organized, keep track of when and what contact is made and help the sales team connect on a more meaningful level. These systems have a variety of functions, but one of the most popular CRM features is marketing automation tools. This allows you to create email campaigns that are automatically sent and provide automatic follow up anytime someone fills out a form or calls your business.

With a CRM, a lot of the contact management work is done for you after the initial setup. Reports can also be generated to provide valuable insight into marketing and sales with minimal effort.

Use a Cloud-Based Phone System to Bring All Your Calls Together

The latest technology in telephone communication is cloud-based calling systems. Instead of your cell phone, office phones and home phone being spread out and under different plans, everything is brought together in the cloud. Calls to your business number can be routed to any phone in any location.

Now there’s no telephone lines or equipment tying things down to a particular place or phone. Better still is that cloud-based phone systems are much easier to manage while providing more features. All of your voicemails, call recordings and call tracking data for all of your phone numbers can be found in a single online account. Reports can be generated with a click of a button so you can analyze phone leads, sales and marketing efforts all at once.

Use an Accounting System to Put Payments on Autopilot

If you’re spending more than a few minutes creating invoices, making payments and reminding customers and clients that payments are due, it’s time to invest in an accounting system. Today there are accounting software options that can do it all for you.

Look for an accounting system with the following capabilities:

  • Generate invoices
  • Send email reminders when payments are late
  • Alert you when late payment reminders are sent
  • Process electronic transfers to make your payments
  • Keep records of all transactions and create reports

A dynamic accounting system will make balancing the books every month a breeze and really pays off during tax season.

Hire Outside Help

There are three things that businesses can leverage to increase productivity: time, money and people. Hiring full-time employees is not always necessary or financially feasible. But hiring outside contract workers is a smart streamlining strategy.

Not only will outside help free up your time, it can also save you money and help you implement other streamlining systems. Three areas to consider outsourcing are administrative work, technical functions and specialized tasks.

Desk-based work can take up to 32% of an entrepreneur’s day, and is often busy work that can easily be handled by someone else. Tech issues can be completed in a matter of minutes by someone that knows what they’re doing, and they can help to future-proof systems. The same goes for other specialized work that requires expertise. If the task isn’t directly making money or helping grow your business it’s time to delegate.

Create a Customer Portal

You can help customers and clients help themselves with a customer portal. This is a portion of your website that’s dedicated to answering questions and providing information. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It just needs to act like a help desk that customers can browse on their own.

Something as simple as an FAQ page can dramatically cut down on the number of customer calls that have to be fielded. You can beef up your customer portal by making it interactive. Allow customers to submit support tickets, fill out forms and complete transactions to streamline several processes simultaneously. In addition to streamlining your customer service this will also help boost customer satisfaction.

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Ivan Yates to speak at British Irish Chamber Dinner

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates is a broadcaster, columnist, businessman and former politician, holding the position of Fine Gael Dáil deputy for more than twenty years. A native of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, he became involved in local politics at a young age and, at twenty-one years old, was the youngest member of the 22nd Dáil. He was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry in 1994.

Celtic Bookmakers

In 2001, he left full-time politics to concentrate on his family and business interests.  Celtic Bookmakers, a chain of betting shops founded by Ivan in 1987, went on to become one of the largest independent family chains in the country. The business went into receivership in 2011 and Ivan declared himself bankrupt in 2012.

Newstalk, TV3

After a year in Wales, he returned to Ireland where he now works full-time in the Irish media. Ivan co-presents Newstalk FM’s breakfast show with Chris Donoghue, is a frequent guest presenter on TV3 and writes weekly columns for the Irish Independent.  He also makes regular appearances as a promotional and after-dinner speaker.

“Full on”

Ivan is married with four children and lives in Dublin. His best selling autobiography “Full On” was published in 2014.


If you want to book for the dinner (which will also give you access to the conference), click here

Separate tickets to the conference are available here. Use “ULSTERBANK” to get 50% off.

NB Discount does not apply to the conference dinner

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Would you like to find out more about Entrepreneurial Spark?

Entrepreneurial Spark are offering you the chance to have a look around the accelerator, speak to one of the team and discuss joining the programme or how you/your business can become involved with Entrepreneurial Spark.

Whether you have a business yourself that you are looking to take to the next stage, you are considering becoming a mentor or believe you could help support the entrepreneurs within the Entrepreneurial Spark programme then we would like to invite you to join one of our tours.

Each group tour will last no longer than one hour and the tour will be conducted by Lynsey Cunningham, Belfast Entrepreneur Development Manager.

Please note that the hatchery tour is not on one to one basis and there will be approx 15 people on each tour therefore all questions and answers will be given in a group.

Entrepreneurial Spark is non – sectorial, equity free business growth accelerator based in physical spaces – Hatcheries. We accept entrepreneurs and businesses of all genres. We are more focused on the individual and how we can develop them as entrepreneurial leaders.

And everything is absolutely FREE.  

Entrepreneurial Spark – Lombard House. 5th – 6th Floor, Lombard Street. Belfast BT1 1RD GB


26 February


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Cyber security, threat or opportunity?

What is humanities back up plan?

Future Crimes by Marc Goodman is a very scary book. We have covered some books that touch on the topic before such as “Filter Bubble”, “Overconnected” and “Brandwashed”, but “Future Crimes, a journey to the dark side of technology and how to survive it” is an eye opener.

The scary statistics

Lets start with some scary statistics:

  • 200,000 new pieces of malware are identified every day
  • One third of all households in the USA are infected by malicious software
  • 95% of all malware is not detected by most virus checkers (those include McAfee and Symantec)
  • A hacking intrusion takes 210 days to detect
  • 75% of the time your defences can be penetrated in minutes
  • Only 15% require more then a few hours (but are still hacked)
  • The average cost per record stolen is $ 188
  • In 2017 a 100 billion will be spend on software and hardware security
  • 110 million accounts were stolen from Target stores alone
  • The value of location data will be over a 100 billion in the next ten years
  • Android was created to give Google access to all your mobile data
  • Data brokers earn 156 billion every year
  • Acxiom has over 700 million consumer profiles worldwide
  • Experian sold the data on 2/3 of the USA population to a organised crime group in Vietnam
  • 13.1 million Americans are victim of identity theft annually. 500,000 of them are children, costing $ 21 billion in 2012
  • 600,000 accounts on Facebook are compromised every day
  • 25% of all reviews on Yelp are bogus
  • 11.2% of Facebook accounts are fake
  • 25% of all credit reports contain errors
  • 100 million phishing messages are send every day
  • Organised crime is 15-20% of global GDP
  • 80% of all hackers are now working for organised crime

Everything is data

You can see where this is going. This is all about data. Google and Facebook are free because they are data collectors and aggregators. Google is worth 400 billion and the value of every long term profile on Facebook is worth 81 dollars. Both have hundreds of petabytes on their users (both don’t use the word customers…. this should make you thinks). They know everything you have done online and increasingly everything else. Imagine if Facebook was there since 1950. Anything in your past you don’t want anyone to know?

No privacy

In the USA online data that is collected by third parties are not considered private. Which means it can be used by Revenue, the police or the divorce lawyer of your ex. The Stasi could only tap 40 phones nationwide at their peak. Now Orwell’s 1984 is here and it is called Google, Facebook or Watson. You probably have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.

All that date is stored and hacker can get access to that data. Any data that is collected will invariably leak.

Do no evil?

Yes, the crooks are not only the criminals:

  • 41% of all cyber attacks are from China
  • The NSA is listening
  • Google used the street view cars for more then taking pictures
  • Google was fined $22.5 million for illegally circumventing privacy settings
  • When you fill in your online profile for OKcupid, that data is immediately shared with over 5o0 data brokers. Check your match.com terms and conditions
  • Facebook has conducted social experiments without permission and keep your data even after you have de-activated the account.
  • Every time you update, the privacy settings go back to standards setting, which basically gives full access
  • The average person will encounter 1,462 privacy policies every year, with an average length of 2,518 words
  • PayPal’s privacy policy is longer then Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • Google Drive’s privacy settings will give Google the rights to all your content and IP (If JK Rowling had written Harry Potter on Google Docs, she would have granted Google the worldwide rights)

Think of what can be done. Google has access to your calendar, your maps, your contacts, your documents, your pictures, voice, phone, the apps you use on your android, your translations, the videos you watch on Youtube, the conversations you have on Skype, your Nest, your camera, your eyes (Google glasses), your wallet. Look at the companies they are buying (robots, cameras, sensors, drones, AI). Here is the list

You are their inventory. They better mean their slogan…… because if not……..

Your eyeballs can be hacked too

That is just on the data side. They can also hack your screen. Which means that you should not always belief what you see. Your phone screen might be controlled by somebody else. The CT scanner in the hospital can be manipulated. Your computer screen can be manipulated. Your GPRS screen can be manipulated. Virtual reality can be manipulated. Facebook has already manipulated you and Google can change your filter bubble with the flick of a switch (or algorithm).

Everything can be hacked

Everything that is connected can be hacked. And now we are at the beginning of the internet of things. Connecting everything. Which means that nothing can be hidden and everything can be hacked. Software and hardware. There are hardware viruses in chargers that allow to hack your phone. They found hidden wifi cards in kitchen equipment that could hack your wifi (and then the rest). You car can be hacked. Your pacemaker. Your hearing aid. Your headset. Your toys. Your lamp or your lightbulb (it is called Conversnitch). Your TV or Skype camera (they are watching you). Your coffee pot. Your burglar alarm. Your electronic locks. Your fridge. Your wearables. Google’s NEST has been hacked.

70% of all IoT devices have 25 unique security flaws.

If you are in business

Photocopiers can be hacked and I bet you didn’t know that photocopiers also have an internal hard disk where all copies are stored. Amazing what you can find on copiers that have been thrown away. Your printer can be hacked. The video conference system in your board room can be hacked.

If you are in government

Your infrastructure (energy, roads, water, broadband) can be hacked. Your databases (passports, police, medical, revenue) can be hacked. Your satellites can be hacked. In fact criminals are already launching their own mini satellites themselves.

The future of hacking

Robots can be hacked. Your servant robot will be sharpening the knife, while you are asleep, watching you. Your augmented body parts can be hacked. Your biometrics can be hacked. Facial recognition algorithms can be hacked. Facebook has the largest depository of biometric data on earth. They can be hacked. Keystroke recognition software can be hacked (Coursera uses keystroke recognition as a tool to identify users). Augmented reality can be hacked. Drones can be hacked. Your 3D and 4D printer can be hacked. Algorithms can be hacked. Now combine that with AI and the exponential curve. Watson as the new Al Capone or Don Watson.

Brain, DNA, Quantum, IoB, nano


Consider the development in brain computing interface (look up Emotiv and NeuroSky). IBM thinks that mind reading is no longer science fiction. Criminals soon can hack your brain.

Consider the development in DNA sequencing and synthetic biology. Your cells can be hacked. The DNA database probably already has been hacked. Combine that with bio printers and you have.

Consider the development of quantum computers, which will making hacking easier.

Consider the development of not only the Internet of Things but the network of microbes or the internet of biological things.

Consider the developments in nano technology. Nano bots can be hacked too.

Combine these development together and through exponentially on top of it and you have a potent mix for criminal armageddon or an exponential version of 1984.


At the end of the book he does give a number of tips on how to help you to protects yourself and they are very obvious:

  • Update regularly
  • Use sophisticated and different passwords
  • Know where you are downloading from
  • Watch your administrator settings
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it
  • Encrypt
  • Think before you share

The above avoids 85% of all threats.

New words

The indication of a good books is the number of new words I learned:

  • Hacktivist (activist using hacking as a tool)
  • Crime singularity
  • Dataveilance (surveillance using data)
  • Sock puppetry (creating fake profiles)
  • Swatting (GPRS manipulation)
  • Flash rob (coordinated robbery by hackers)
  • CaaS (Crime as a Service)
  • Bluesnarfing (hacking your bluetooth to get access to your data)
  • Drone-versiting (drones as an advertising medium)
  • Narco drones (drones smuggling and transporting drugs)
  • Chemputer (printing medicine (or drugs))
  • Algorithmic criminal justice (using algorithms to determine infractions of the law)
  • DNA stalkers (hackers stalking your DNA)
  • DNA hard drive (four grams of DNA can store one year of digital data created by humankind)
  • Shodan (the criminal version of Google)

Business opportunity

If you want a book that makes you think about the unintended consequences of technology, this is one to pick. It also screams business opportunity. Cyber security is a hotspot.

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Expert Tips for Small Business Owners

Are you looking forward to having your own startup? That’s simply grand, as there are only a few things that are as liberating as being your own boss. However, now that you have left your job and eyeing the startup as your sole source of income, you have to be really strategic at every step. The post below details some expert tips that will help you to kick-start your new venture on a confident note.

Do what you are passionate about

Your business theme must circle around a theme that you are truly passionate about. Don’t go for a business idea simply because it sounds glamorous. A startup involves challenges and a great deal of hard work leading you to exhaustion at times – and you would soon lose interest midway if you are not genuinely interested about the theme. Life seems much easier when we get to do the things that we actually care about.

Enhance your knowledge

This is a vital tip when you are about to start something new. You have to increase your know-how on the business theme and follow the industry trends. Study relevant books, talk to experts in the business, keep an eye on the related news, and visit the business’ expos to enhance your exposure.

Create a concise sales pitch

Your sales pitch is an important tool when you have to create awareness about your business. You have to keep on delivering your business to customers, investors, and even potential employees to make them aware of the opportunities in your venture. But then, it’s a busy world today and people have no time to sit for prolonged sales talk. Thus, you have to bring up something that is both informative (with your main goals, mission, and service potential) and concise- the sales pitch must not exceed 30 seconds to a maximum of one minute.

Be frugal in the initial stage

Small business owners are usually tight on capital in their primary years and hence, you should act accordingly. There is no need to set fancy offices; watch each dollar that you spend and check all the expenses thrice. Maintain low overhead – your customers are primarily interested in your service, not how your office looks. You can obviously consider great decoration later on when you have enough profits to think of trendy shades for your office wall.

Hire smart

Your employees would form the pillar of your organization and hence, you must be really careful here. It’s obvious that you will look for seasoned tradesmen, but the experienced ones would definitely charge higher. So, added to the seasoned experts, you should also focus on potential freshers who would be eager to work at lower rates as well.

Workforce management is a big deal and thus, it’s smarter to invest in a workforce management software which can help with all important employee management activities like absence management, employee scheduling, time, and attendance etc.

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6 Professionals Your Small Business Needs to Work With

Budgets for small businesses are typically tight, prompting owners to only hire outside professionals when absolutely necessary. They would love for everything to be done in-house, but rarely is that possible. Most successful small businesses grow with the help of collaboration from specific professionals, whose expertise are complex enough to warrant the investment, rather than risking small business catastrophe by cutting corners.

If growth is a priority, your small business needs to work with these six professionals:

Insurance Professional

Insurance requirements seem to change on a yearly basis. Save yourself the headache and seek out an insurance professional to help you find the ideal coverage for your business. They will use your circumstances and location to find the best plan for you and your employees. Keep them on call as your business expands and insurance is required for dozens of employees.

PR/Marketing Professional

Some business have a capable in-house PR and marketing team, but most small businesses don’t have the resources or time to create such a department. PR/marketing companies can provide servicing on a monthly or bi-annual basis. There are many quality, small PR firms that are tailored to helping small businesses, so look for one specifically with concrete success within your niche.

CPA/Payroll Manager

Payroll is a hugely important, particularly because employees will start to lose trust if paychecks become late or erroneous. Having a CPA or payroll company aid in payouts will alleviate concerns significantly and save you hours each payroll period. A CPA can also advise you on state and federal taxes, something that requires a professional because your finances will likely be constantly changing.

Maintenance Services

Your business’ infrastructure is important, too! An uncleanly or disorganized office space can turn off both employees and clients. Small business owners likely already have enough on their plates to manually clean the office, so hiring outside help — like for those high-rise office window cleaners you could never get to yourself — is well worth the investment. You can focus on your work and employees and leave the cleaning to the professionals.

Business Consultant

The wide-sweeping term “business consultant” can turn some business owners off, especially if they’re confident that they can handle all business decisions. While a business consultant might not be as important as lawyers or insurance professionals, they can still be of great use in a general sense. Business consultants can find solutions via intelligent discourse, such as the Socratic method, and you might find it extremely helpful.

Information Tech

IT help isn’t always needed, especially if your business leaders are technologically inclined, but small businesses with less technical expertise should hire someone who specializes in it. Specifically, finding a professional to install the office computers or set up a cloud-centered content management system to aid in office collaboration and task management is certainly an option.

Although small businesses are constantly looking for ways to save money, neglecting the skills of these professionals is not one of them. Their expertise — from legal and insurance to PR and general office cleaning — can save you hours in the short-term, which can lead to impressive growth in the long-term. Plus, the web makes it easier than ever to find independent professionals who excel in your business’ niche.

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Attracting Investors to Your Startup by Standing Out and Proving Your Worth

One of the most exciting, and most frightening time for a team that is launching a startup is when it is time to pitch your products or services to potential investors. In fact, it is a bit like presenting your baby to the outside world and hoping everybody loves it as much as you. When you work to attract investors to your startup, you actually have several things to accomplish. The first, and most obvious is obtaining the funds you need to get your company to the next stage. However, in addition to this, you also want to get the best terms possible, and maintain as much control over your business as you possibly can. In order to accomplish these goals, you have to convince potential funding sources that you are capable of running a business that is successful enough that they will make a profit from their investment. Fortunately, if you have great product or service, the skills required to run a successful business, and a solid plan for attracting investors, you have a great chance at succeeding.

Show Proof of Market Traction

Market traction is your ability to convert customers, and grow quickly. For investors, proof of market traction indicates to them that they will be able to get returns on their investment relatively quickly. If they do not find evidence that your startup has traction, they aren’t going to invest.There are many ways you can prove traction. For example, you can provide investors with information about the success you have had with test releases and selling your product at trade shows. However, the best way to prove market traction is to simply tell the story of your product or service in the right way. For example, if you tell a potential investor that you have sold 50k units in 5 years, that may not seem like very much to them (depending on your product). On the other hand, if you tell them that you did your first manufacturing run and sold 15k units in the first two years, spent a year in redesign, launched again, and have sold 35k units in two years, that tells an entirely different story. The first is slow growth. The second is demonstrable growth and proof of traction.

Prepare a Well-Written Value Proposition

Your value proposition is a written statement that clearly defines what it is that you do, who will benefit from your product or service, and why they would select your business over other businesses in your niche. You begin this process by clearly outlining the problem that you are solving, as well as why that is a problem. However, you cannot simply show that there is a problem. You have to show that the problem is worth building a business solving. This means showing that the problem is widespread, or that has deep impact on those it does affect. Finally, you will need to show that your solution is in some way better than solutions that are currently being provided. Not only is a well-written value proposition impressive to potential investors, writing one will help you to solidify your vision as well.

Put Together a Dream Team

Since your company is only at the beginning of its destiny, there isn’t a lot of proof that you can give that truly guarantee you have a hit on your hands. This is why many early stage investors focus on the skills and talents of the team you have, almost as much as they do your products and services. When you make your pitch, be sure you can show investors that you have put together a team that can become successful. You can do this by talking about each team member’s skills and  how those benefit the company. If you have had past successes working as a team, you should bring that up as well. Investors want to see a deep and varied skill set, that every member has a role and is making contributions, and they want to see proof of cohesiveness..

Consider Crowdfunding

If you don’t think your best way to get funds together is through traditional sources like VC, you might consider starting a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is a way to earn small amounts of money from a large number of people. This can be a great option if you lack proof of  market traction, or are still in the incubator stage. However, if you choose to go this route, it is important to understand that there is much more to do than simply creating a crowdfunding page and then telling your story. You’ll need to determine how you are going to demonstrate your product or service, who the targets of your campaign will be, and create a plan for launching and promoting your campaign. You’ll also have to shoot and edit video and determine what it is you will offer those who fund your startup. You will also have the challenge of selecting your crowdfunding platform.

When crowdfunding does work, the results can be absolutely amazing. One startup, Chilango, a Mexican burrito restaurant successfully raised 2.1M Euros in order to launch their fresh, Mexican cuisine based operation.

Create Barriers to Entry

If investors believe that anybody can jump into your space and replicate what you are doing, they aren’t going to be compelled to invest in you. This is why it is so important to create barriers to entry. Barriers to entry are essentially roadblocks that you put up to make it difficult for others to become your competitors.You can create barriers to entry by setting up exclusive deals with vendors and retailers, getting patents on your technology, creating proprietary technology, truly being the first in your space and growing quickly, developing strong branding, or earning strong customer loyalty. Every barrier to entry that you can create makes it less attractive for potential competitors to come up against you. If you create enough barriers to entry, you can make it nearly impossible for them to do so.

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