4 emerging trends you need to look for in your new co-working space
Co-working spaces are becoming a popular option for many corporations to foster innovation rather than just being a workspace for freelancers and start-ups. Having this trend in mind, many co-working spaces are starting to give more and more importance to their atmosphere to respond to this changing demand. We listed the trends you need to keep an eye on if you’re looking to move to a new co-working space:
As suggested by Oliver Marlow, co-founder of TILT at this year’s Business Centre Association (BCA) Annual Conference & Exhibition, co-working spaces should represent the inclusive nature of the concept. Today co-working is sought by different generations – Baby Boomers, Generation Z and Millennials. Predictably, each of these different type of communities have diverse requirements and priorities. A successful co-working space is the one that creates an inclusive atmosphere for all and that is a hub allowing them to exchange beneficial knowledge. It is extremely valuable to choose a co-working space that includes members from diverse career paths and generations to get the true benefit of co-working.
When it comes to choosing a new co-working space it is important to go for the one that embraces the local identity. For example, Us&Co’s central City of London Monument workspace represents the professional character of the capital’s business centre, while not falling short of the comfortable co-working ambiance. As for many things, also in co-working spaces the “one size fits all” approach isn’t proven to be extremely satisfying for the members. Once you are a member of a co-working office, you shouldn’t only be expecting to have a workspace but also to become a part of the local community. Through different in-house events and networking opportunities, a co-working space should create a base for its members to get the most of its location.
If you are interested in learning more about how to get the most out of co-working in London, particularly if you are a start-up or a SME, make sure you check out our free downloadable ebook: The Ultimate Guide For Start-Ups In London.
A co-working space needs to be a catalyst rather than a container. So, the space should be shaped in a way to promote collaborations. Co-working spaces’ flexible nature also allows them to become a “contact centre” for larger organisations to reach out to smaller start-ups and work together without having to compromise their company culture. At Us & Co you can find spaces to focus on your task on your own or with your team, as well as relaxing in break-out areas located on each floor.
By far the most important element for a co-working space to have is its adaptability to the newest technology. This doesn’t just include offering high-speed Wi-Fi or cutting-edge telecom solutions – technology needs to be an integral part of the service, making the co-working membership as efficient as possible. At Us & Co, you feel this seamless integration from the moment you enter the building.
New way of co-working: us & co
The concept of co-working is taking business as we know it by storm. Its effects are not only limited to how organisations or freelancers operate but how innovation takes place: According to JLL’s latest report “A New Era of Co-working”, 42% of companies expect collaboration with entrepreneurs to accelerate disruptive innovation and 63% of companies say the main reason behind their decision to use a shared office space is the ability to collaborate.
The notion of co-working may have been pioneered by entrepreneurs, young start-ups and freelancers in search of a convenient and friendly space to do their business. However looking at the field today, we see that companies of all sizes are intrigued about this hype and starting to opt for co-working spaces across the world. This triggered the motivation behind a new co-working space in the City of London. Us & Co is suitable for entrepreneurs who are at the beginning of their career as well as corporate organisations or teams who need a professional workspace away from their normal surroundings. Situated over 8 floors in the City of London, Us & Co welcomes members from various career fields and steps, offering bright and modern co-working spaces.
Offering two types of memberships: Hot-Desks and Dedicated Desks as well as meeting rooms and rooftop event space. With the hot desk membership option, you will have the freedom to choose your spot every time you are here, make use of the complimentary coffee bar and enjoy breaks or informal meetings on the top floor – Clubspace – overlooking London riverside between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, both just moments away. You will also be eligible to book high-tech, spacious meeting rooms, just say when! Dedicated desks can provision larger teams who join Us & Co as you could get up to 50 desks on a floor. Business never stops – so you will have access 24/7, with a large desk of your own and a lockable cabinet.
Every floor has informal meeting spaces, private meeting rooms and complimentary break out areas with Mozzo coffee and many more drink options for you to choose from. Us & Co blends the flexible and modern co-working approach with the professionalism of London’s business hub, The City. Get in touch now, if you want to experience Us & Co first hand with a free day pass!
5 must-reads for entrepreneurs this summer
Whether you are a new entrepreneur or have launched your exciting company a few years ago, getting recommendations and inspirations via books is always quite beneficial. Here we listed our top 5 picks of entrepreneurship books which you must read this summer – trust us, they’re good.
1. The Myth of the Strong Leader, Archie Brown
When Bill Gates strongly recommends a book, you know you have to read it. Even though this leadership best seller has a political tone, it is indeed very applicable to business. The main theme of the book is “strong leaders” (as most of us would define) being eventually bad for a country (or a business) as they create bigger problems while trying to solve immediate ones. According to Brown, qualities such as integrity, articulateness and empathy are more essential in a leader than plain perception of “strength”.
2. The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy
You might have launched an awesome new product but if you don’t know how to sell it, its bound to be a failure. In his book “ThePsychology of Selling”, Tracy explains different selling strategies which have one common denominator– the person. At the early stages of entrepreneurship it is normal to be in a fully result (and money) driven mindset however this leads many to forget the essential human factor in sales. This book is a great guide for any entrepreneur who needs that little help to get successful returns.
3. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, Jim Collins
Collins and his team of researchers analysed over 1,400 organisations, to find the best of the best and settled on 11 business giants including Wells Fargo, Gillette and Walgreens. In this book, he explains what is that “thing” some companies have that makes them go from good to great. If you’re looking for an inspiration for your new venture, definitely give this one a read.
4. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business, Clayton M. Christensen
Written by a Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, this book tries to find an answer to the question “I’ve done everything by the book, played by the rules. Why is my company not managing to be successful?” Full of great practical advice and case studies, The Innovator’s Dilemma is going to be your go-to book whenever in need.
5. Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull
You’re not yet an entrepreneur but you want to be one? Do you need to find some motivation to turn your idea into reality? Creativity, Inc. tells the story of Pixar – how it came to where it is today from the very beginning. From power struggles and failed risks to positive exposure and credibility, this book is going to be the best friend of an entrepreneur looking to start a creative business. Also, it is one of the favourite books of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg!
Inspiration and motivation can come from anywhere and anytime, but these books would definitely give the right start. At Us & Co, the newest co-working space in the City of London, we are home to entrepreneurs from various sectors, as well as small and large corporate teams. Whether you are at the beginning of your career or have years of experience, we are here to provide the best environment and community for you to take your business to next level. If you want to see it for yourself, why not book a free week pass? Its exclusive for July and August only, so hurry up!
5 habits you need to start right now to supercharge your week
It’s a Monday morning, you’re tired and at a loss as to how you’re going to accomplish all that you have planned for the week. Well now’s the time to stop, take a moment and check out our handy five habits that will help supercharge your week ahead (and all the weeks following).
When you’re an entrepreneur you can’t play things by ear, which means you need a plan to know what you’re doing and when. Plus, it’s always easier to complete tasks when you’ve planned for them and know when you’re set to complete them. It’ll also save you time in the morning as you’ll already know, straight away, what you need to do that day. If you can, write your to-do list the night before; that way you know exactly what you’re doing as soon as you get to the office the following morning, freeing up more time to get started on your tasks.
Get up early
The early bird really does catch the worm! Your brain is at its most optimum in the morning; giving you more focus and brain power to accomplish your tasks for the day. You will also find that it’s a lot calmer in the morning, meaning you’ll be able to work on tasks undisturbed. Not only should you be getting up early, you should also have a morning routine established (link to morning routine). This will signal to your brain that it’s time to work, making mornings a little easier for you if you’re still not ‘a morning person’.
Whilst mindfulness may feel like a fad that is currently making the rounds, it’s been proven to provide incredible benefits on your mind and in turn your work; making it something that is here to stay. By mastering mindfulness and making it a habit, you’ll find that you’re calmer, focused and more attentive in every aspect of your life.
Set a weekly goal
Everyone enjoys the rush that’s felt after accomplishing a goal, so set yourself a new goal each week for something you’d like to achieve. This could be anything, both outside of work, such as completing a 5K, or inside of work such as finalising a big contract you’ve been working on for weeks. Change your goals each week, and make sure they’re attainable whilst still allowing you to push yourself.
Exercise is not only good for the body; it’s good for the mind. It can help increase brain power and productivity. If you’ve always wanted to exercise regularly, studies show making it a part of your morning routine helps aid consistency, and people that work out in the morning are more likely to stick to their workout routines and fitness goals. If that’s not enough, the endorphins will put you in a great mood for whatever the day has to throw at you, so why not give it a go?
Four common daily habits of successful entrepreneurs
The habits we have ultimately shape who we are as a person. Being a successful entrepreneur requires healthy habits that enable one’s professional and personal growth. Innovative thinking, determination, market understanding, flexibility and risk taking are characteristics that are shared by the biggest names of the entrepreneurial field. However they also feed these essential traits by incorporating healthy habits to their daily routines which we have listed for you. Which one are you going to start working on first?
1. Having a Strict Schedule
It is vital to set a daily plan and follow it strictly to achieve a productive day. While this helps you to get the most out of every day, it also ensures you block the overwhelming feeling of procrastination. One of the most successful entrepreneurs out there, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk keeps a very detailed daily schedule.
Musk schedules his whole day in 5-minute sets and devotes different days of the week to different projects (For example his Mondays & Thursdays are devoted to SpaceX only). This makes sure that his focus is not diluted on various projects and he can achieve the best outcome for individual tasks.
2. Reading a Lot
One of the easiest (and most old-school) ways of broadening your perspective is through reading books of different kinds. Reading books of various genres allows entrepreneurs to gain knowledge on areas that are crucial or supplementary to their business and to their self-development. CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates whose current worth is $85 billion admits to reading 50 books each year. This equates to almost 1 book per week, which, is not that impossible to achieve. To help you start incorporating this habit to your day, these are the Top 3 books listed in Business Insider’s list of “21 Books That Every Entrepreneur Should Read”: “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker and “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen.
3. Waking Up Early
Early bird, certainly, catches the warm. The positive effects of a good night’s sleep on physical and mental health is a scientifically proven fact. It reduces stress, lowers the levels of inflammation to your cardiovascular system and generally makes you feel better. However, a good sleep definitely does not mean too much sleep. The most successful entrepreneurs are known early-risers, with the intention of being as productive as possible and to get the most out of the day. Here are when the alarm clock rings for these business giants:
Howard Schultz, Starbucks – 4.30 am
Richard Branson, Virgin Group – 5.45 am
Tim Cook, Apple Inc. – 3.45 am
Vittorio Colao, Vodafone – 6.00 am
4. Get Moving
Exercising is key to an active lifestyle. In addition to keeping them fit and healthy, entrepreneurs feel that a daily work-out keeps them motivated and enthusiastic during the day. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, shared that he swims, plays tennis or surfs every day and claims to get an extra 4 hours of productivity a day. Even ex-POTUS Barack Obama claimed to make time for 45-minute workouts before dealing with his responsibilities. Following a daily exercising routine leaves less time to procrastinate, helps individuals to stay competitive and creates room for a healthy work-life balance. These three factors are essential to a successful entrepreneurship journey and to be honest, it doesn’t hurt to get a side benefit of a fit body either.
Of course the list can go on and on. However these simple yet effective habits of some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs are definitely worth incorporating in your daily lifestyle. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or are working in a settled business, the worth of these daily habits for your professional and personal development is invaluable. To work alongside like-minded individuals, call or book a visit to Us &Co. to share the motivational spirit through co-working in the City of London.
5 hobbies that will make you smarter
Hobbies are not only great for keeping us entertained, distracted from the worries of work and helping us meet new people, but they can actually make you smarter too. We’ve collated a list of five hobbies that have been scientifically proven to improve intelligence; and you should definitely try one of these this year.
Play a musical instrument
There are various researchers who have shown that music stimulates the brain, and both listening to music and playing an instrument can increase memory capacity. As well as this, learning to play an instrument also teaches you patience and perseverance while sharpening your concentration, as it takes time and effort. So pick your instrument, get learning and impress your friends.
Learn a new language
This may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end. Learning a new language will not only help you when you’re on holiday by letting you immerse yourself into a new culture, but it can also have numerous advantages that can make you smarter. Getting to grips with a different language involves analysing grammatical structures and learning new words, both of which can improve your brain health and intelligence. Being confident in another language can also help you professionally, allowing you to communicate with people overseas if necessary and help you to move up the ranks. Duolingo is a free tool that lets you learn a new language in easy to manage bitesize chunks.
Read, read and read
We all know we should read more and we’ve all got an ever growing list of “must-reads”, however with its ability to reduce stress and increase all three types of intelligence, what are you waiting for? Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or autobiographical, whatever you read can really help your understanding of a topic and productivity in how you go about achieving your goals. It can also help you to understand processes and accurately interpret and respond to other people’s feelings, which is hugely beneficial in the workplace.
Following on from a study published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in 2006, which included the Dalai Lama and scientist Richard Davidson, it has been proven that those who were told to meditate and focus on compassion came in to a deeply compassionate state of mind. This became interesting to people as they believed they could control their own brain waves, meaning they could calm themselves down, reduce stress and feel more powerful, an ideal skill to have in the world of business. Try the Headspace app to get you started.
Regular exercise is not only important for a healthy body but for a healthy brain as well. Exercising is key to keeping your brain and your body functioning to the best of its ability. Doctors agree that working out increases blood circulation to the brain and this means increased brain function. Scientists also speculate that sitting down for prolonged periods of time can actually have the opposite affect and be detrimental to the workings of our brain.
So why not take up one, or even ALL of these hobbies, give your brain a workout, have fun and increase your intelligence all at the same time.
5 cities every entrepreneur should see
One of the most crucial things for an entrepreneur is to have a vast network. Even if you are based in a start-up friendly city where you have access to many entrepreneurial networking events, it is very important to broaden your perspectives. The most efficient – and let’s be honest – the most fun way to achieve this is travelling. Here we picked 5 cities every entrepreneur should visit as soon as the opportunity comes.
Whether you are travelling to meet with fellow entrepreneurs or to get inspiration for your own business, Paris is always a good idea. It may not be the first city to come up to your mind when talking about entrepreneurship, however with VCs investing $2.7 billion in France last year, it is the second biggest European hub after UK (with $3.7 billion investments). Drink Entrepreneurs is an unformal, monthly event, which is open to entrepreneurs from all stages of their career to network over a drink. Very Parisian!
San Francisco, USA
Without any doubt, San Francisco is still the tech capital of the world. Even though it would be more time consuming than visiting a nearby European city, an entrepreneur must visit San Francisco to experience the true innovation spirit. The technophiles out are guaranteed to have the time of their lives during this trip, especially while visiting Stanford and Lucky 165, Palo Alto – the early office of Google and many leading startups.
Singapore is where East meets West.
It is home to many multi-national organisations and its support for entrepreneurship is growing day by day. In 2016, tech start-ups led a record $3.5 billion venture capital investments into Singapore, as shared by Brand Insider. Paying a visit to Singapore is definitely an adventure for everybody, especially for entrepreneurs who are aiming to be successful in today’s rapidly globalising business scene.
Tel Aviv, Israel
According to Wall Street Journal, Tel Aviv is home to more than 1,000 startups and the number is continuing to grow. It is a perfect hub for everything from accelerators to networking events and leading research institutions. Bonus side – amazing beaches and cuisine so you can mix business and pleasure!
Frankfurt may be the first German city that comes up to your mind when you think of financial institutions and Munich can be a great example of an industrial town. Berlin, however, is a completely different environment where entrepreneurs thrive. According to Compass, the city holds over 3,000 startups and is filled with international entrepreneurs thanks to its busy events calendar all year long. Definitely check what is on Factory Berlin’s calendar to make sure you don’t miss out on interesting networking events and seminars when you’re in town.
Travel destinations are endless and the world is your oyster. Once your holidays are over and you’re back to business, come join us at Us & Co in the City of London to be part of a professional co-working community. If you’re already back in town, get a free week pass exclusive to August to experience Us & Co first hand!
When the going gets tough: 8 tips for staying calm and turning crisis into opportunity
When it feels like everything is going left when it should be going right, it often feel like the only solution is to resign yourself to giving up. What many people don’t realise is that often with crisis comes opportunity.
Below are our top tips for staying calm in troubled water…
Change your perspective
“When nothing is going right, trying going left!” When things are going wrong it can be hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but if you look hard enough the chances are you’ll end up finding one. Take a step back and look at your problem from a different angle and consider the possibilities your problem has created for you.
2. Believe in the impossible
As human beings we very often catastrophize situations, but successful business men and women often train themselves to focus on the best possible outcome. Take a moment to forget the issue at hand and picture positives that could develop from the situation. Could this crisis be a stepping stone toward improving your product or service? Chances are it could be.
3. Create your own rules
Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done now. If you’ve exhausted every immediate option you can think of for resolving your crisis, give yourself time to think of something no one has done before. This should help turn your crisis into a new opportunity.
4. Get some air
Whilst leaving the office may seem like the last thing you should do, going outside for a walk and getting some fresh air could give you the perspective you need. Not only will the endorphins from going for a walk help you feel calmer about the situation, it will help you clear your head giving you a chance to think around the issue at hand.
5. Begin a new channel of communication
If you have a team working with you get them together and see if you can work around the issue as a group. If you’re doing things solo get in touch with a peer or trusted friend. Having someone else to discuss your issues with and gaining their perspective will often help you see a way to fix things that you may have once missed.
6. Address the issue at hand
Don’t hide away from the issue! Shying away from any issue will not only make it harder for you to fight your way out of it, it also puts off finding a solution. If your issue is affecting others, be transparent with the people it’s affecting, you’re honesty will reward you in the long run.
7. Take it one step at a time
Break down your crisis into small manageable chunks. It will help it seem less daunting and allow you to ensure all bases are covered when coming to a resolution. By approaching your crisis in this fashion, you will also see where there are areas for possible improvements in the future.
8. Learn and move on
Take note of what went wrong. How did it happen? How could you prevent it from happening again? By looking into how the crisis occurred, you can put preventative measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Once the crisis has been resolved, move on. If you spend time dwelling on what happened in the past it will prevent you from furthering your potential in the future.
What we are really trying to say is that you don’t have to become overwhelmed with feelings of despair. Using some of the tactics we’ve listen you’ll find a solution to your crisis in no time.
10 podcasts to enhance your commute
Bored of hearing the same old songs on the radio every day during your commute to work? Want to make better use of the time you spend in your car, or on the train or bus? Well, we’ve hand-picked our top 10 podcasts that are the perfect way to enhance your commute, making it more productive and even, more fun. They are a great way to kick start your day or help you wind down on the way home
This podcast will teach you how to turn those everyday ideas into business solutions and tools, and build them into your life and work. Including interviews with a whole host of guests, including business leaders, artists and authors, all are using their own expertise to offer tips and advice. It’s perfect for the business brains out there.
For all the managers out there, this one is for you. Manager Tools aims to help professionals become more effective managers and leaders, and breakaway from the traditional, tired management theories. There are specific actions discussed each week to help you achieve your management goals, such as how to make your employees feel appreciated, and how to deal with office politics.
We all have those moments of wonder, where our mind runs away with us and we start questioning everything about reality. This podcast does exactly what it says on the tin, it is full of surprising information and mind blowing facts and topics that you’ll be able to bring to the water cooler at the office. Anything from “Is social media driving us insane?” to “Where does the notion of road rage come from?” this podcast is sure to get you thinking.
Similar to “Stuff to blow your mind” this podcast will arm you with a whole wealth of interesting facts to take into the office, and give you something impress your friends with. As the title says, it’s stuff we probably should all know, but probably don’t. Ever wondered how food tasters work, or how the space station works or even how gossip works? Then this will be right up your street. Try it today and get learning.
Now this one may be more suited to your journey home, as it could be great for sparking some cooking inspiration for dinner, and encouraging you to get into the kitchen. The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food. Full of audio recipes, cooking tips, food news and passionate stories from industry experts, this podcast is perfect for your inner foodie.
Kick start your day with this award-winning talk show about everything work-related. Topics covered include communication, productivity, business barriers, office life and MUCH more. It’s a great way to ease you into the day on your way to work and get your business brain in gear.
This podcast is perfect for the time-poor business-orientated listeners out there. In just 10 minute episodes, host Rye Taylor helps you leverage your passion by asking questions to industry experts, from the world of creativity, entrepreneurial and communication. You will not only get your question answered but also have actionable steps that you will be able to apply to your work and life straight away.
Ever thought about meditation, but felt a bit daunted by it, unsure of exactly what to do and how to do it? Then try Radio Headspace, it is perfect way to ease you into the meditation world and get you started. Each week there is a short, calming exercise to follow to help you lead a happy and healthier life. Why not try it one morning this week, and see how it makes you feel?
Bring a smile to your commute with this comedy driven (and at times slightly explicit) podcast, it talks about those painfully awkward topics of modern day life that we have all experienced at one point or another. Such as when you’re forced to go to long dinner parties and how to deal with public swimming pools.
This audio version of the magazine is great for those who drive to and from work and aren’t able to read. Each six-minute episode gives a selection of hand-selected articles from the newsstand, in quick bitesize chunks for you to listen to throughout the day and keep yourself clued up on the latest news.
5 things to consider when looking for investors in your start-up business
There are thousands of things to consider when you start up a small business. Funding is often top of the list – but with time and capital already tied up in getting your business off the ground, it can be difficult to know where to start. We’ve broken down the investment process, and come up with the five most important things to consider.
Hello – is it me you’re looking for?
Your small business is a package deal – it comes with you. And not just you the entrepreneur. An investor is looking for the you beyond the label. The you who came up with the idea for your start-up in the first place. The you whose style is indelibly imprinted on the whole of your business venture, from initial plan to current performance.
If you secure your investment, you’ll be working closely with your investor for the foreseeable future. It’s as important for you to get along with them as it is for them to believe in you. Sell yourself honestly and enthusiastically. Let your passion for your start-up come through in your pitch. No-one who created a small business with drive and vision ever did so without coming across as passionate about it.
Be stylish. Your style is what sets you apart from other start-ups in your field. It’s the defining element of your idea, which connects your product or service to its audience. When you pitch honestly, passionately, and uniquely to investors, you’re showing them more than just an ‘off the shelf’ business plan. You’re showing them a small business with soul, ambition, confidence.
Don’t mistake this for a recommendation to be showy or slick. If you go at your pitch like a carnival barker, your potential investor will see through you in a heartbeat. Back up your passion and style with solid, confidence-inspiring figures. Have you put your own money into the start-up? Do you have a network of reliable professional connections in place? This is what we like to call the one-two punch of personality. Get your investor interested with who you are, and get them hooked by showing them what a good relationship prospect you’ll make.
Show me the money
It’s all about the money, money, money: and if the figures don’t stack up, no amount of personality and drive is going to convince an investor to bet on you. Most start-up investors are looking to make reliable returns on capital they’ve set aside for the purpose, and they’re not in the business of taking a punt. Get your figures in order, in a way that proves you have the experience, seriousness of purpose, and realism to back up your unique idea.
Financials are where small business ideas meet the real world. An investor needs to know that their money will be well spent. They needs to see that the figure you are asking for will be applied to a specific set of business goals, which are realistically achievable and likely to generate the return they are looking for.
Your business plan is the core of your financial offering. It should be targeted to your investor and written in the most concise way possible. Use real figures and be prepared to explain every one of them. If you claim your start-up will be turning over £300,000 by the end of year two, you’ll need to be able to show where that figure comes from.
Convincing financials incorporate multiple fiscal years, and cover everything affecting the cash and asset realities of your small business. What’s the projected cashflow, year on year? What are your costs? Your investor is expecting a full profit and loss statement, which shows your ability to bring in profit. At the end of the day, this is what generates buyer interest and kickstarts your exit strategy (see the great escape, below).
Making the sale
You don’t have to know everything about marketing to have a marketable start-up. But you do need a brand that knows what it is. A clear, coherent brand is defined by three things:
1: Your idea
2: Your audience
3: Your products and services
These three elements play into one another to create a brand that resonates with its audience – and a start-up that resonates with its investors. Your idea defines the kind of audience your products and services will reach. Your audience defines the products and services you create. The kind of product or service your small business is going to supply is a starting-point for your idea.
Investors need to see how your brand is going to be marketed, even if its marketing strategy isn’t up and running yet. At the very least, you should be able to show an understanding of your market and the initial stages of developing a marketing plan. Ideally, you’ll also have spent time generating press for your start-up, building a website, and generating buzz on social media.
It isn’t what you know…
On- or off-line, networking is still the most powerful currency in the world. Consider your own situation. Let’s say you’re building that website, and a mutual acquaintance who also runs a small business recommends a developer. Who do you go for – the developer your contact recommends, or a company pitching to you cold?
The same bias is present for investors. What if someone in your network were already to know one of your target investors? Yes, you’ll still have to impress with your company’s awesomeness, but at least you’re playing to a willing audience. If you can convince a member of your professional network to pitch your start-up to a potential investor, you go into the crunch meeting with a significant advantage.
There’s another benefit to networking for investor introductions: your pitch is practiced and honed by the time you reach the money. No-one whose opinion counts is going to recommend an investor looks at your small business unless you’ve already convinced them that it rocks. Your contact functions as a gatekeeper, vetting your pitch before it goes through to the big boss.
The great escape
Your start-up hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet – so it might seem a bit strange to be planning for its sale to a bigger company, or its merger with a complementary business. But this ‘exit strategy’ is your investor’s endgame. It’s the plan that shows her how she walks away from the investment with the desired return on her stake money.
Build the exit strategy into your whole offering. Show your potential investor how her money is going to take your start-up to a level that attracts the notice of buyers. With the right financials, the right marketing, and the right marriage of personalities, the exit strategy could be what tips her over into decision-making territory – and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Finding an investor takes time and money, and you’ll hear the word ‘no’ a lot more than you hear the word ‘yes’. But if your idea is sound and your passion is strong, you’ll get there in the end. Factor the travel and expense of investment-hunting into your plan. Put in the work: chase potential investors down, stick close to them, and wow them with your start-up. When you hear the magic word ’yes’, it’s all worth it.