Money For Investment|Internet Businesses

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					H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




       How To Successfully Obtain
       Investment Money for Your
                    Internet Business
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




                                       Table of Contents

      Introduction ...........................................................................................6
         What is Financing?............................................................................................7
         Why Financing is Vital for Your Internet Business.............................................7
          Are you dedicated?........................................................................8
          Do you have a plan?......................................................................8
          Are you aware of the risks? ...........................................................8
      Chapter 1 - Making Your Business Investment-Worthy ......................10
        Be tech savvy..................................................................................................11
         Who’s who in your market? .............................................................................11
         Climb to the top of the heap (and stay there) ..................................................12
          Where are you on the web?.........................................................12
          Do you get the word out?.............................................................13
          Are you friendly with the press?...................................................13
         Cover all your bases........................................................................................13
         Keeping the customer satisfied .......................................................................14
         Be prepared ....................................................................................................14
         Be realistic.......................................................................................................15
      Chapter 2 – Financing in the Digital Age.............................................16
        Online Business Benefits ................................................................................16
          Cheaper To Run ..........................................................................16
          Unique Marketing Potential..........................................................17
          Resources Abound ......................................................................18
          Investors At Your Fingertips ........................................................19
          Background Checks At Your Fingertips .......................................19
         Online Business Issues...................................................................................20
           Unique Security Issues ................................................................20
           Money Isn't Everything.................................................................20
           It's Not Every Investor's Thing .....................................................21
         Financing Options ...........................................................................................21
         SBA Loans...................................................................................22
         Internet Incubators.......................................................................22
         Venture Capital=High-Growth Only .............................................22
      Chapter 3 – Financing for the Faint of Heart.......................................24
       There's No Such Thing As "Risk-Free"............................................................24
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         Know the Risk Before the Investor ..................................................................25
          Financial ......................................................................................26
          Product ........................................................................................26
          Market..........................................................................................26
          Management................................................................................27
         Smart Risk.......................................................................................................27
         Risk Management ...........................................................................................28
           Assessing Risks Regularly ..........................................................28
           Prioritizing Risks ..........................................................................29
           Creating Risk Solutions ...............................................................30
         Be Credit Smart...............................................................................................30
      Chapter 4 – The Business Plan ..........................................................32
        What is a business plan? ................................................................................32
         Why does my business need a business plan?...............................................33
         Coming up with a time budget.........................................................................34
         Identifying Your Audience ...............................................................................35
          Angels..........................................................................................35
          Venture Capitalists.......................................................................35
          Lenders........................................................................................36
         Gathering Information......................................................................................36
         Market Research.............................................................................................37
         Writing the Business Plan ...............................................................................38
         Components of the Plan ..............................................................38
         The Final Edit...............................................................................60
         Avoiding Mistakes........................................................................62
      Chapter 5 – Targeting Investors .........................................................64
       Types of Investors...........................................................................................64
           Venture Capitalists.......................................................................64
           Angels..........................................................................................65
           Lenders........................................................................................66
         The Investment Money Search .......................................................................66
           Here are some great websites to get you started in your venture
           capital search:..............................................................................66
           Some places to begin your angel investor search include: ..........67
           To secure a loan for your online business, you may wish to look at
           these websites:............................................................................67
         Choosing the Right Candidates.......................................................................68
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




          Venture Capitalists.......................................................................68
          Angels..........................................................................................70
          Lenders........................................................................................71
         General Investor Decision Tips .......................................................................72
         Do Your Research! ......................................................................73
         When In Doubt… .........................................................................73
         Make Sure You Click ...................................................................73
      Chapter 6 – Dealing With Due Diligence.............................................75
        Reviewing Your Business................................................................................75
           Contracts .....................................................................................76
           Finances ......................................................................................76
           Operations ...................................................................................77
           Management................................................................................77
           Marketing.....................................................................................77
         Be Ahead of the Game....................................................................................78
         What Investors Are Looking For......................................................................79
          A big opportunity for growth.........................................................79
          A clearly defined and professional management team. ...............80
          A low risk level.............................................................................80
         Reviewing Your Investor .................................................................................81
           Evaluate the Investment Deal......................................................81
           Make Sure Everything Matches Up .............................................82
         Keep Your Investor in the Know......................................................................83
      Chapter 7 – Resources .......................................................................85
        Helpful Financing Websites.............................................................................85
         Business Plan Websites..................................................................................86
         Venture Capital ...............................................................................................86
         Lenders ...........................................................................................................87
         Angels .............................................................................................................87
         Helpful Books ..................................................................................................88
      Bibliography ........................................................................................92
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      Introduction

      Finding and securing investment money for an Internet business can
      be tough. Just ask many of the dot-coms out there today. The entire
      process of building your business plan, coming up with potential
      investors and sealing the deal can be overwhelming, especially since
      many Internet businesses these days are one person companies
      operating out of one’s home.


      In order to get through the financing process relatively unscathed and
      with additional capital for your business, you must accept first and
      foremost that it will take time. While we may live in the computerized
      age, where information is transmitted in a matter of seconds and the
      other side of the world is just a point and click away, it may seem
      equally likely that securing investment money should be just as simple
      and speedy. But that is simply not the case.


      According to Dave Lavinsky, President of Growthink.com, it can take
      between 500-1000 hours to prepare, seek out and secure financing for
      a business. Knowing this ahead of time can save you a lot of grief, and
      allow you to budget your time accordingly.


      Many individuals go into business without knowing a thing about how
      to run one, let alone manage money and finances of such a company.
      Since you are taking the time to read this e-book, we will assume you
      have had nominal success in your online business, or are preparing to
      launch said business. The focus here will be to shine a light on
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




      everything financing and how to navigate that not-so clear path to
      investment funding.


      But before we get any further, it may be best to take a step back and
      take a look at the basics.

      What is Financing?


      According to Dictionary.com, financing is “the act or process or an
      instance of raising or providing funds.” Investorwords.com defines it as
      meaning “providing necessary capital.” Regardless of definition,
      financing is a necessity for most businesses. The old adage, “it takes
      money to make money” still rings true, making it quite a necessary to
      seek out investment money whether from a SBA loan, a venture firm,
      or other sources.

      Why Financing is Vital for Your Internet Business


      You may get away with starting your business without investment
      money. You may fly by on a shoestring budget and stay in the black.
      But what about if you want to expand your business, serve more
      customers and offer more products? In order to grow you will need
      capital and the best way of obtaining said capital is by means of
      investment and loan money.


      Regular brick and mortar businesses face these same sorts of
      challenges when looking to expand, but Internet businesses must be
      even more careful. Before reading on and going down the business
      expansion road, ask yourself the following questions:
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      Are you dedicated?


      Just because your business is online does not mean it is any easier to
      run or you can take special shortcuts. In fact, obtaining capital for your
      online business can be more difficult at times. Be sure that that you
      truly want to expand your business and have a plan before beginning a
      search for investors.

      Do you have a plan?


      Many people jump into the world of starting an online business without
      thinking it through. Where will your office be? Will you work from
      home? How much will it cost to start your business? Who is your target
      consumer? Or, if you’ve already started your business and merely wish
      to expand, why do you want to expand? Will it truly be beneficial to
      your business? Have you studied the marketplace? It may sound like a
      lot to consider, but you’ll be thankful that you did. There’s nothing
      worse than starting a business and then realizing there’s no way it can
      be profitable—after you’ve thrown your savings into the business
      capital.

      Are you aware of the risks?


      Starting or growing a business is a risk. It requires money to start and
      flourish—most of which will likely come out of your pocket or go on
      your credit record. While owning your own business can be exciting
      and extremely fulfilling, be sure to understand much of your business
      success will directly affect your personal success. If you have a family
      to support and your business fails, what will you do? Always be
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      conscious of the worst that could happen so you can be prepared and
      avoid such unfortunate roadblocks as much as possible.


      Still with us? Good. Now you can venture into the world of gaining
      capital for your Internet business. Learn how to write an effective
      business plan, where to look for investors and what to look for in
      investors. Plus, we’ve compiled some useful resources for getting
      started.


      Good luck and happy financing!
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      Chapter 1 - Making Your Business Investment-
      Worthy

      First impressions are everything. When applying for a job, you
      specifically tailor your resume for the position, wear you neatest attire
      to the interview and maintain professional decorum at all times. Now,
      this doesn’t mean you need to appear devoid of any personality, but it
      does show that you’re serious about the potential position and would
      be an attribute to the hiring company.


      The same goes for preparing your business for the eyes of potential
      investors. Except, rather than dusting off your best business suit from
      the closet, you’ll need to prepare a detailed business plan that covers
      the unique needs and risks associated with online businesses. You will
      need to be knowledgeable about your competitors and on top of the
      constant changes that occur within the online community.


      Sure, it sounds tough, and in all honesty, it can be quite difficult. But
      don’t let that discourage you. Think of it as a challenge. After preparing
      your business for its presentation to the public, you should feel
      confident in your abilities as a business owner and have a whole slew
      of investment knowledge on hand.


      But before you start writing a business plan and searching for
      investors, make sure you do the following to ensure maximum results
      come financing time.
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      Be tech savvy


      It may seem like an obvious attribute, but having a clear understanding
      of current technological trends and how they can or will affect your
      business is crucial. Is there a new shopping cart program on the
      market that would make your online store more customer-friendly?
      What about inventory trackers? Is your current system error-free and
      current? You may wish to consider subscribing to a business or
      technology magazine to keep abreast of trends. That way, you can
      update your business plan accordingly as the tech tides change and
      you’ll stay one step ahead of your competitors.

      Who’s who in your market?


      Market research is a standard task when it comes to developing a
      business plan with the intent of attracting investors. But in the Internet
      marketplace, your job can be a bit more difficult. Granted, the task of
      searching for companies that cover your company’s market and
      demographic is much easier online, but it is also much easier for
      people to start businesses out of the blue. Domain name pricing is
      consistently on the decline and the latest software makes setting up a
      store website relatively easy.


      Keeping track of the new businesses in your market helps you keep
      your business plan up-to-date and ahead of the competitors. Just
      because the virtual competition is growing, doesn’t mean you have to
      fall behind.
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      Climb to the top of the heap (and stay there)


      The competition between businesses sharing a similar market can be
      brutal. That’s why you need to distinguish your online business from
      the rest. What makes your business special? Do you offer customer
      service that goes above and beyond your competitors’? Is your
      company legitimately concerned with helping the general populace?
      Do you offer the services to prove it?


      Apart from distinguishing your business from competitors, you must
      also advertise, advertise, advertise! It should go without saying, but
      your business will have little to no appeal to investors without an
      advertising strategy that works. A functional advertising system
      demonstrates that your business has the capacity to grow and to find
      new customers. Before even considering “going public” and seeking
      additional capital, check to see if your marketing and advertising plan
      is effective:


      Where are you on the web?


      Your company should be listed with the major search engines such as
      Google, Yahoo, Ask and others. Some great ways to boost your
      search engine rankings is to provide a link exchange program. Create
      a page on your company website that links to other sites that provide
      information similar to yours—but not competing companies, of course.
      For instance, if your company sells maternity clothing, link to sites that
      provide information on pregnancy, motherhood and fashion. Do a little
      marketing campaign of your own and request that these sites link back
      to your company, considering you have linked to them. The more “back
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      links”—or links from websites that direct to your website—you have,
      the higher your search engine ranking will be. And the best part about
      it? It’s free!

      Do you get the word out?


      A great way to promote your online business is through free
      newsletters and articles. By distributing this free content, you get the
      word out about your business and provide some topical information.
      Keeping with the maternity clothing company mentioned previously,
      you could create a newsletter that offers an article or two on the latest
      pregnancy fashions, perhaps a health-related piece and links to your
      latest products. If you have a sale going on, mention it. You may even
      wish to offer coupons for newsletter subscribers.

      Are you friendly with the press?


      The press and general media can be your friend. Big changes in the
      company, brand new products and even seasonal spins on the basics
      your company provides make for great topics of press releases.
      Whether you hire a professional press release writer or create the
      document yourself, you can then distribute the piece through PR news
      distributors such as www.prnewswire.com.

      Cover all your bases


      Investors like to see companies that are aware of the risks in online
      business. Having high expectations and an optimistic attitude is
      certainly admirable, but too much enthusiasm can come across as
      naiveté. Do you have the latest virus protection software installed on
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      your company server? What about appropriate firewalls and encryption
      software to ensure your customers can purchase from you while
      feeling safe? Are you complying with your local laws on business
      registration and siting? While legislation is quite slow to catch up with
      technology, it is slowly making progress. Make sure you’re abreast of
      the latest in technological law for your company’s wellbeing as well as
      the wellbeing of your customers.

      Keeping the customer satisfied


      While many people think about and prepare a business plan before
      actually starting their business, many people jump into building a
      company and then develop a plan when they wish to seek out
      investors.


      If your Internet business has been in existence for some time, a track
      record of successful transactions and satisfied customers is a must.
      While potential investors may not be interested in seeing customer
      testimonials, they’ll certainly appreciate a company that can bring in
      repeat customers, again and again.

      Be prepared


      Knowing the financial projections of your competitors is great, but you
      should also have clear and accurate records of how you came about
      these numbers. There’s nothing worse than putting in the all of the
      work of writing a business plan, searching for investors and actually
      drawing investor interest, and then standing there dumbfounded as
      they request documents you don’t have on hand. Keep all of your
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      research and data in an easy to find place. Your market analysis and
      competition analysis is a very important aspect of securing funds for
      your business. Think of it this way—the more you put into this process
      of organizing your files, preparing your business and going through the
      actual investment search, the more likely it is you will actually secure
      investment money.

      Be realistic


      Attempting to grow your business takes time. Don’t expect overnight
      results. The more time you put into the process the more you get out of
      it.


      Got all of that? Good. Now it’s time to learn the difference between the
      unique needs of an online business and a brick and mortar business
      and how these needs affect your approach to financing.
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      Chapter 2 – Financing in the Digital Age

      Just because your business is confined to the virtual world does not
      mean it is any less of a business. Internet companies are taking the
      marketplace by storm. Just look at Amazon.com, eBay.com and other
      cyber sensations. They may not have an actual "brick and mortar"
      residence, but they are multi-million dollar companies that huge
      percentages of the populace frequent each day.


      Financing for an online business can seem a bit unorthodox--how
      much could it possibly cost to run one? But that's where many people
      go wrong. In fact, many online businesses fail within their first year due
      to inadequate funding. Even though Internet businesses are looked
      upon much more favorably these days as real businesses, they still
      undergo some unique trials due to their virtual nature.


      But to brighten your enthusiastic, entrepreneurial mind, let's start with
      the unique benefits of starting or expanding an Internet business, and
      the effects those benefits have on financing.

      Online Business Benefits


      Internet businesses lend themselves to several benefits unique to their
      online nature. These include:

      Cheaper To Run


      Even though you may need to rent or lease office space or warehouse
      space, running an online business can be significantly cheaper than
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      running a traditional brick and mortar business. You will most likely
      have fewer employees and less equipment than a physical company.
      Likewise, you don't have to worry about the "look" of your store; rather,
      you will just need a competent web designer. Even though web design
      can come with a hefty price tag, it's not nearly as expensive as the
      designing, layout and execution of a physical store floor plan.


      Not to mention, if you run your online business out of your home, you
      may be able to cut out many costs altogether! And with the home office
      expense deductions available during tax-time, running an online
      business seems like a truly great way to go.

      Unique Marketing Potential


      The Internet provides limitless opportunities for spreading the word
      about your business and makes the entire process of marketing much
      cheaper and easier. Unique online marketing ventures include:


      Search Engine Optimization


      Nowhere but the Internet can you tailor the aspects of your company to
      draw in the most unique visitors. Search engine optimization or SEO
      utilizes keyword studies on the frequency of search engine queries for
      particular phrases or terms related to a particular business or industry
      and then incorporates said terms in the content of the company
      website. These keywords can be included in the meta-tags, at strategic
      points in the body text or made into links to allow for maximum search
      engine visibility. You certainly can't perform this sort of marketing
      strategy for a brick and mortar only business!
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      World-Wide Exposure


      Nothing offers more publicity than the Internet, if it is used correctly. An
      online business lends itself to exposure to a much wider audience than
      it would if in existence solely offline. For instance, customers can
      access your website from around the world, at any time of the day.
      While you're sleeping, orders across the globe can be placed. With this
      sort of systematic functionality an online business allows entrepreneurs
      greater freedom and a greater ability to expand their market.


      Targeting With Ease


      Marketing an Internet business can be much easier than marketing for
      a brick and mortar business. This applies to not only the marketing
      tactics themselves, but the market research. Sifting through piles of
      documents and data in order to assess the best demographic and
      market to target can take hours--but at least the Internet puts these
      items right within easy reach. You can, in fact, do the majority of your
      research online without ever having to go to the library! The
      convenience alone is noteworthy, but the ability to access current
      information in a short amount of time, makes market research and the
      Internet a no-brainer pair.

      Resources Abound


      There are tons of websites available that offer expert advice and
      insider tips on how to finance a business. Everything from investor
      targeting tips to business plan samples can be accessed with a few
      keystrokes and a click of the mouse. The financing process is certainly
      complicated, but at least with the wonderful tool that is the Internet,
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      budding entrepreneurs can access the information they need quickly.
      Be sure to check out Chapter 7 of this e-book--it is loaded with
      websites and resources to help you begin the financing process.

      Investors At Your Fingertips


      Investors can be some of the hardest people to track down, but the
      Internet changes that. There are numerous websites available aimed
      at people just like you looking to finance their start-up or growing
      business and offer listings of investors. Many of these sites are broken
      down into categories to reflect the individual investor's description. For
      instance, an investor that only considers investing in companies with a
      technological focus may be in one category, while an investor that
      prefers to fund service-oriented companies would be in another.
      Investors may also be broken up into distinctions based on the types of
      companies they will invest in, such as a start-ups or established
      businesses.

      Background Checks At Your Fingertips


      Along with finding investors, you can also check up on them online.
      Websites that offer background checks can help you save a lot of grief
      before signing a deal that ends up ruining your company. Before you
      go into any written agreement with an investor, you can run a
      background check on him or her that reports back with their bank
      standing, legal standing, business licenses and whether or not they've
      ever filed for bankruptcy or been convicted of a crime. Without the
      ease of use the online environment provides, it would be virtually
      impossible to find out all of this information on a potential investor. And
      don't forget: the Internet lends itself to be a great reference checker.
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      Check up with any businesses the investor has funded in the past.
      How was their experience? You'll be glad you made the extra effort.

      Online Business Issues


      So far, everything seems rosy in Internet land, but that is unfortunately
      not always the case. While running a business online has numerous
      benefits, it also has its share of concerns and issues that must be
      addressed before seeking any finance money.

      Unique Security Issues


      Having your business online can be great, but it also makes you
      vulnerable to all sorts of nasty bugs. Viruses, Trojan horses and what
      have you are lurking on the net in all sorts of unexpected places. Being
      unprepared just exacerbates the problem, putting you, your company
      and your customers at risk. Also, the security of your website is a
      major concern, with hackers and identity theft scams running rampant.
      Without the appropriate security tools and measures, it is highly
      unlikely anyone will take the risk and purchase from your company.

      Money Isn't Everything


      Just because you secure investment money, does not mean you will
      have a successful business. Unfortunately, a lot of people that attempt
      to start a business online have little to no "know-how" and think it will
      automatically be easy because it's online and "everybody's doing it!"
      However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Online businesses are
      ventures that require serious attention, just like brick and mortar
      businesses. All that is different is the format.
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      In order to run a successful online business and secure adequate
      financing, the business owner must be knowledgeable in their
      particular industry and take the venture seriously. Even more
      importantly, should a company secure funding, it is imperative that the
      owner knows just how to utilize the capital. Without appropriate money
      management skills, your business could be ready to go under within a
      year's time!

      It's Not Every Investor's Thing


      This is becoming less and less the case, but some investors still shy
      away from online businesses. Whether it is the continuous fluctuation
      of the marketplace or the relatively small investments required for start
      up, it is hard to say. However, some investors just do not "waste" their
      time on Internet start-ups. Sadly, many start-ups fail within their first
      year, due to inadequate management. Likewise, many online
      businesses are small ventures and share the same troubles as brick
      and mortar small businesses. Without a significant return rate on their
      investment, investors often bow out before the deal is ever made.

      Financing Options


      The financing options for an Internet business run pretty much parallel
      with those intended for brick and mortar businesses; however, there
      are some unique stipulations and exceptions worth mentioning.
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      SBA Loans


      The U.S. Small Business Administration helps business owners fund
      their companies with loan money obtained from lenders in the private-
      sector. While brick and mortar business can obtain these loans, they
      are particularly beneficial to the start-up online business, specifically
      the MicroLoan program. These loans are of a lower amount and
      interest rate, which is suited well to the smaller budget of a virtual
      company. The goal here is to get your business off of the ground and
      into operation.

      Internet Incubators


      Internet incubators fund online business start-ups and help to build the
      company up for success. An incubator does more than finance a
      promising venture. Instead, they provide management teams, office
      space and other services designed to help a business get off the
      ground. Internet incubators are different than any other type of investor
      because they become directly involved with the company in question
      and provide all of the support services they will need to flourish. Many
      incubators are industry-specific, so be sure to really do your research
      before placing your proposal in front of one.

      Venture Capital=High-Growth Only


      Unfortunately, many venture capital firms are not interested in small
      businesses, let alone small Internet businesses. VCs like to invest a lot
      of money into a company that shows a promising ability to make a
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      huge profit. Most online businesses do not fall into that category and
      are therefore completely overlooked by the big venture capital firms.
      Also, many VCs simply do not like to make "small" investments. The
      mentality is somewhat "the more we invest, the more money we'll
      make." While this is often not true, it is the mantra of venture capital
      firms, making the plight of struggling Internet start-ups all the more of a
      rough and tumble operation.


      Moving on, it's time to find out just why you should finance, and how to
      get over that nagging fear of finance failure. Chapter 3 should help to
      ease your worries.
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      Chapter 3 – Financing for the Faint of Heart

      For many, the word "financing" brings up images of risking all of one's
      saving on a business venture, only to lose it all and end up in
      bankruptcy. While this can certainly happen, it is not the normal case.
      Every business carries some level of risk, whether market-related or
      product-related. The key to success is assessing the risk of your
      business venture and deciding, based on this analysis, whether or not
      it is worthwhile to pursue it.


      For those of you who are shaking in their boots already, relax. Risk
      doesn't automatically mean you'll crash and burn! Rather, it is the most
      logical way to evaluate a business for its likelihood to succeed or fail.
      Breathing easier yet? Keep reading to calm your fragile financing
      nerves.

      There's No Such Thing As "Risk-Free"


      Many business owners shudder at the word "risk." They automatically
      think that because there is risk inherent in their business model that it
      will push away prospective investors. Suddenly, a little bit of risk
      becomes the worst thing in the world and it must be covered up at all
      costs. So, many entrepreneurs resort to skirting the issues that would
      bring up some level of risk in their business plans and instead focus on
      the best parts of the plan. This is where most business owners go
      terribly wrong.
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      Now, while it may seem best to play up the best parts of your business
      and appear very optimistic, it can also send up red flags to a investors
      as meaning either: A. You haven't done your research, or B. You're
      hiding something.


      If you're aware of a risk in your business model and fail to mention it in
      your business plan, you may be doomed for failure. Leaving the
      investor in the dark can make way for a nasty surprise when the rose-
      colored glasses come off.


      Besides, there is no such thing as a risk-free business. Every business
      prepares for some level of risk. Even if your business model is planned
      out to the smallest detail, there will still be risk. Some factors are just
      uncontrollable, but they can be predicated, analyzed and solutions can
      be thought of to deal with these risk factors.

      Know the Risk Before the Investor


      This should go without saying, but you should have a good idea of the
      risks involved in your business venture before an investor ever sets
      their eyes on the proposal. During your research, you'll come across all
      sorts of facts and figures to evaluate the marketplace and your place in
      it. Along the way, risk should make itself apparent.
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      The most common types of risk involved with start-up and growing
      businesses include:

      Financial


      Even after calculation after calculation, there is always the risk that
      your company will run out of money before it can get off the ground.
      Whether certain elements were not accounted for in your business
      plan, or a market shift caused a delay in revenues, finances always
      bring some level of risk to the business building game. Likewise, the
      mismanagement of money or relative lack of experience can cause a
      financial risk to become a reality.

      Product


      Even if your product is designed and ready to be manufactured, there
      is still a risk that it cannot be produced economically (IE, for less than
      the best price you can get for it). Whether the prototype does not abide
      by certain characteristics, or it will be too costly to produce a functional
      product, this type of risk is most relevant to technological industries.
      With technology changing everyday, it very well may be the case that
      your product no longer suits the market need once created, or it may
      not function as previously planned.

      Market


      Market analysis takes up a large portion of the time you will need to
      create a business plan, but even hours of research cannot account for
      everything. Risks that affect the market include the possibility that a
      particular market does not grow as expected. Many times, a company's
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      capital is drained as they sit by waiting for consumers to take notice. In
      these cases, the company often goes under. Market risk can be
      predicted and prepared for, but all of the planning in the world cannot
      eliminate this risk.

      Management


      Having the right people on board is half of the battle when developing
      a strong business model. However, there is a risk involved with the
      individuals that make up your management team. If you have one
      member of the team that is highly specialized in an area of expertise
      that is vital to your company's success, you are proverbially putting all
      of your eggs in one basket. Sometimes decisions like these are
      unavoidable. But it must be known that relying on the presence of one
      team member for company success raises the overall risk factor
      significantly.

      Smart Risk


      As stated previously, some level of risk is present in all business
      models. In fact, risk is present in businesses that are thriving.
      However, their established nature lessens the likelihood of these risks
      from being realized. The key to making your start-up or expanding
      business a success is to account for these risks in logical, structured
      ways.


      It is easy to find out what can go wrong with your business. It is much
      more difficult to figure out how to fix these problems should they arise.
      Being solutions-minded shows potential investors that you think
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      proactively and are on top of your company's needs, and prepared to
      deal with setbacks.


      In order to show that you are prepared to take action should one of
      your company's risk factors become a reality, you will need to outline
      your proposed solutions to these problems. Be realistic but creative in
      your solutions and you'll definitely capture an investor's eye. Investors
      expect there to be risk. What they want from you is an indication that
      you have accurately assessed the risks, have a plan in place for each
      risk, and are mentally prepared to tackle these potential risks head on.
      That will show you think ahead and are ready to deal with real
      problems as they arise in your business--a surefire attraction for
      investors.

      Risk Management


      At bottom, risk management is the process of thinking ahead. What
      many people don't realize is that risk never really goes away. While the
      risks to a start-up are quite a bit more perilous than risks to an
      established business, they never cease to exist completely.


      Risk management, then, involves the process of continuously thinking
      ahead. In fact, it is broken down into three distinct categories:

      Assessing Risks Regularly


      Start-up companies may not have sufficient funding to start a full-
      fledged risk management department, but they can still evaluate risks
      on a regular basis. Everyone in the company can be involved in the
      process and be trained to deal with potential risks. For instance, should
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      a virus somehow penetrate the company server, each employee
      should know who to call and how to react to the situation. While this is
      not exactly a risk that can be planned for, it can be anticipated. You
      don’t know when a virus will hit your server, but you can be fairly sure
      that, at some point, a virus will hit your server.


      Sometimes, risks come to the surface with no warning whatsoever. But
      a good risk management department would have already taken into
      account the likelihood of such a surprise risk of occurring and made
      necessary allocations. For instance, if the price of a key component
      skyrockets one day with no warning due to some world event, a
      company with sound risk management practices would have a plan in
      place for adjusting operations accordingly – perhaps a stockpile of
      parts, perhaps a price increase coupled with a marketing campaign
      explaining the situation, or perhaps the replacement of the product with
      its next-generation version.

      Prioritizing Risks


      After potential risks are identified they then must be prioritized in order
      to ensure the appropriate risks are being addressed. Which risks seem
      most threatening to the wellbeing and livelihood of your company?
      Which risks are least likely to arise and can be addressed at a later
      date? Prioritizing allows the risk management department to address
      what is current and necessary while leaving the least threatening risks
      for another day's work. However, this does not mean that "low" priority
      risks should be ignored altogether; it just makes for a functioning
      system of risk management.
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      Creating Risk Solutions


      Once a priority list has been created, then solutions can begin to be
      contemplated. What are the best ways to deal with each risk? If you
      have a high market risk, what are some ways to prevent your target
      market from dissipating? Or, if your highest risk is financial, how can
      you better manage your company's finances now to ensure adequate
      funding later?

      Be Credit Smart


      On a related but different note, the use of credit is also often a concern
      for finance-wary business owners. What if I go into debt? What if I lose
      all of my company's capital? Or, even worse, what if I lose my personal
      savings?


      Stop worrying! As long as you use your credit wisely, you'll be fine.
      Just don't start charging everything to your credit card, from a brand
      new computer to filing cabinets. The key is to make timely credit
      purchases. Swiping the plastic during a month of profit loss is not so
      wise.


      Also, get a credit card specifically for your business. Many people use
      their personal credit cards to fund business ventures, which is a major
      no-no. Going into personal debt will make it all the more difficult to
      obtain a loan or other financing later down the line.


      If you must use your personal credit card to fund your business, only
      do so on a temporary basis and keep track of EVERYTHING. Do not
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      let one penny go unaccounted for. After all, your credit score can
      dramatically affect your ability to obtain financing for our business and
      your personal life, so take care with the credit.


      Still not breathing a sigh of relief? Well, perhaps the next chapter will
      boost your spirits. Our comprehensive business plan guide will show
      you how to secure financing for your new or growing business.
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      Chapter 4 – The Business Plan

      Now that you have a good handle on how to prepare your business for
      the great finance search and know how to make informed financial
      decisions, it’s time to move onto the document to end all business
      documents: the business plan.


      If you dream of expanding your online business or starting one from
      the ground floor, you’ll need a business plan. Potential investors want
      to see that you’re serious about your company and need to know the
      financial specifics to make an informed decision about whether or not
      they are willing to take a risk on you. A good business plan will lay out
      of the vital information about your business in an easy-to-understand
      manner. Organization is very important, but we’ll get to that later. A
      definition of this important document can help you understand what will
      be required of you and why once it comes time to setting pen to paper.

      What is a business plan?


      According to www.business.gov, a business plan “is a comprehensive
      planning document which clearly describes the business
      developmental objective of an existing or proposed business applying
      for assistance in SBA's 8(a) or lending programs. The plan outlines
      what and how and from where the resources needed to accomplish the
      objective will be obtained and utilized.” Quite a mouthful, we know! But
      let’s break this definition down in order to shine a little light on what this
      document is, exactly.
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      From this definition, we gather that a business plan is a
      “comprehensive planning document.” Seems pretty clear so far! Next,
      this document “clearly describes the business developmental objective
      of an existing or proposed business.” So, whether you are just starting
      your Internet business or it has been established for some time, a
      business plan helps to get down in writing your company goals and
      objectives. Lastly, we gather from this definition that a business plan
      “outlines what and how and from where the resources needed to
      accomplish the objective will be obtained and utilized.” In simpler
      terms, a business plan provides an outline for


          1. What resources are needed in order to accomplish your
             business goals and objectives.
          2. How you will obtain these resources in order to accomplish your
             business goals or objectives
          3. Where you will obtain these resources in order to accomplish
             your business goals or objectives.




      Why does my business need a business plan?


      First of all, a business plan is exactly what is implies: a plan. It has
      been shown that businesses that take the time to write a business plan
      are more likely to succeed, having put in the forethought of how their
      company will be run and operate.


      You can think of a business plan as a roadmap or a blueprint,
      according to Joanne Elgash in her book, How to Write a .Com
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      Business Plan. This document can help you, evaluate your company
      and how it can best be managed.


      Business plans also act as your own personal persuasive argument.
      As you seek investment money for your online company, it will require
      convincing other people—those with money—that you are a worthy
      recipient, not only of their time, but also of their hard earned cash. A
      business plan is your chance to draw in potential investors, so be sure
      it’s the best it can possibly be.

      Coming up with a time budget


      When it comes time to actually sit down and write your business plan,
      it will take time. But don’t forget to include the amount of hours it will
      take to research and target your plan, as well. Dave Lavinsky of
      Growthink suggests allotting between 500-1000 hours to the process
      of securing capital. So, plan on about 6 months, at least, to go through
      the entire process of researching, writing the business plan, targeting
      investors and actually securing capital.


      While it may seem like we’re beating you over the head with this, it
      really cannot be emphasized enough: make a time budget! Even
      though you may feel as though you’re in control and have a rough idea
      of how long it will take to complete, sit down and make a plan before
      the plan. The process of financing your online business often cuts into
      work hours, which can potentially cut into your profits. To avoid a loss
      of profits and to stay ahead of the game, schedule your financing
      process accordingly.
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      Identifying Your Audience


      To whom will your business plan be addressed? This is probably one
      of the most important questions you will ask yourself in the process of
      financing your business. There are many different people out there
      who are potential investors in your company. Here are the typical
      people who will be reading your business plan:

      Angels


      An angel investor is typically an individual who is personally wealthy
      and who seeks out investment opportunities in order to help new or
      struggling (but promising) businesses get off the ground or pursue
      dreams of growth. Many times, an angel is someone who knows you
      personally already or someone your friends or colleagues are familiar
      with. However, there are also a few angels out there who seek out
      businesses with an impressive business plan and realistic objectives.

      Venture Capitalists


      Often referred to as VCs, venture capitalists are people in firms that
      fund businesses with an interest in growing their own capital. In
      exchange for their investment, a VC will then gain a share of your
      company. VCs like to see a company that’s done its research, is willing
      to take big risks and can feasibly make big returns on their investment.
      The downside is that VCs come into contact with hundreds of business
      plans a year. To ensure yours ends up on the top of the pile, we’ll
      teach you how to write an excellent executive summary in a bit.
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      Lenders


      Another group of potential eyes that will scan your business plan
      include lenders. Lenders can include a whole variety of banks that
      distribute bank loans and even small business loans distributed by
      SBA. Again, professionalism is of utmost importance. While you may
      be able to get away with a less than spectacular business plan with a
      potential angel investor that is a friend of the family, lenders want to be
      sure their money is going to the right sort of company, i.e. a company
      that will be able to make its loan payments.

      Gathering Information


      Now, with prospective audience members in mind, you can begin
      compiling the information necessary to create your business plan. But
      wait just a second! Aren’t you forgetting something?


      Where exactly will all of this information come from, anyway? Good
      question. Besides researching the marketplace, your competitors and
      other information as outlined in the section below, you will also need
      information on your own company. If you keep good records, this
      should be no problem, but if you don’t, before you even begin to
      scribble out a mission statement, gather the appropriate files you’ll
      need. A few things you should have on hand before you begin include:


          -   Financial records: this is about money, after all. Be sure you
              have your tax returns, history of sales and profits and other
              documents that indicate the financial wellbeing of your
              company.
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          -   Marketing: If you own a business and are seeking to expand it,
              you should have a history of marketing techniques that have
              worked for your company.
          -   Your product: What is it that you sell? Whether it is a tangible
              item or a service, be sure you can describe it in detail and know
              all that it takes to produce and distribute it.

      Market Research


      It’s one of the most dreaded parts of the business plan: market
      analysis. But you can save yourself from a major headache by
      planning ahead. Again, before writing anything for your business plan,
      do your research. What is the projected growth of your company? Who
      does your product or service target? How does your product benefit
      people? How is your product better than the competition? What is your
      company doing that outshines the competition?


      You want to be able to show potential investors that you are market
      savvy and know just what it will take to make your product sell like
      hotcakes. You also want to be able to show that you’re not one for
      taking shortcuts. Here’s a tip: potential investors love to see business
      plans that show a ton of research was involved. Why? Because this
      sort of in-depth research shows that your company is willing to do the
      legwork to ensure accuracy. It shows that you have taken serious time
      to consider the serious implications of growing your business and have
      thought out just how you will do it in a realistic manner.


      By putting in lots of research time and coming up with convincing
      numbers in your market analysis, you will be able to impress VCs,
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      angels and lenders with your grasp of the business you’re in. That will
      definitely pay dividends when they start evaluating your proposal!

      Writing the Business Plan


      Alas, it has arrived. The moment of truth where you are finally let out of
      the pin and allowed to place that pen to paper. But writing the business
      plan, as you may have already gathered, requires a lot more than just
      a few fancy flourishes of the pen and a clever turn of phrase. Rather,
      you should think of the business plan composing process as a big
      project that can be broken down in several smaller parts.

      Components of the Plan


      It’s important to use the standard outline for your business plan. VCs
      are accustomed to viewing business plans that appear a certain way.
      Deviating from the formula too much will either confuse your potential
      investors, frustrate them, or make you appear clueless when it comes
      to business plan structure. And if you don’t have the structure right, the
      VC very well may ponder what else you have failed to research.


      So, without further ado, each of the following sections will discuss the
      various components of a business plan, the research you will need to
      do, how the section is to be structured and a few ways to really catch
      an investor’s eye.


      A quick word on the formatting of the following sections: The sections
      below are in order as they would be presented in an actual business
      plan. The order in which you choose to write them is up to you.
      However, you may wish to write the executive summary first in order to
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      give you a solid outline of what the rest of your business plan will
      contain. Other writers prefer to write the summary last of all – so that
      they have all the information fresh in front of them. Ultimately, how you
      write the plan is up to you. Go with what makes the most sense to you.


      Executive Summary


      By far the most important part of the business plan is the executive
      summary. You can think of the executive summary as the grand outline
      of your business plan. While much more thorough than a table of
      contents, the executive summary provides investors with an upfront
      look at what your business is all about, what it is you sell, who
      manages the company and the financing you need.


      The key elements that should be included are:


                    Mission Statement
                    Company Description
                    Product or Service
                    Management
                    Competition
                    Target Market
                    Marketing
                    Operations
                    Financial Plan


      The executive summary is what will make or break your business plan.
      In fact, most potential investors will read the summary first and only
      continue reading if they like what they see. So this leaves you a bit of
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      dilemma. How do you fit in all of the information you wish to get across
      without going on for pages? The key here is to be succinct. You don’t
      need to include every little detail of your business plan in the executive
      summary—that’s what the rest of the business plan is for. What you
      want to hit is the highlights and the basic facts that support your
      intentions.


      First things first, let's go over what each business plan element
      includes and how you can go about presenting them to your investors.


             Mission Statement


      The mission statement should relate your company's purpose. What is
      it you would like to do with your business? Do you want to help
      amateur golfers improve their stroke by selling top-of-the line golf
      products with top-of-the-line service? Or, is your company a travel
      guidebook publisher, with an aim of helping people all over the world
      get to their destinations of choice? Regardless of what you sell
      specifically, the mission statement should show potential investors, in a
      sentence or two, why you are in business.


             Company Description


      In this portion of the executive summary, you will describe your
      company's history if you are looking to expand the business or what
      you plan on doing if it is a start up. Be sure to mention just what it is
      that makes your online business unique. Be especially aware of your
      references to your company's place on the Internet. How does your
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      business differ from other online businesses in your market? What
      about your company stands apart from the rest?


      Don't forget to include your web address and site name. Catchiness is
      key. A few other things to consider: how does your online business
      draw in traffic? What sorts of features keep your visitors coming back
      for more? You don't have to include everything about your company
      here--just enough to give investors a preview of what you're all about.


             Product or Service


      Just what is it that you are selling? Whether it is a product or a service,
      describe it concisely and clearly. Be sure to keep your target customer
      in mind when writing this section. What about your product or service is
      unique? Does it fulfill a need or a want in your target customer? In
      what ways will you get customers to return to your site regularly?
      These are all things to consider when writing about your product. You
      want potential investors to feel as though this is a "can't lose" deal. So,
      what about your product or service in particular is a cut above the
      competition?


             Management


      In this section, you'll want to describe the key members of your
      management team, their qualifications and their responsibilities within
      the company. Be sure to include each member management's name,
      title and relevant experience. Also, if you plan on hiring employees, or
      have already hired them, include information on how you have done
      so. You can also include information on how you will recruit
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      employees. What sorts of benefits will you be offering employees?
      How will your company prepare for and accommodate employees?
      The key here is to show that your company will be run by a group of
      people that know what they're talking about. And remember: your
      management team is very likely to be the item that attracts the most
      investor interest.


             Competition


      The competition section of your executive summary should provide a
      bit of insight into how your company is different and better in
      comparison to competing markets. While you don't want to give the
      impression that the market is flooded with many similar companies,
      you also don't want to appear naïve and state that you are "one of a
      kind" – unless, of course, you are. It is best to acknowledge you have
      competition, briefly state what it is these companies do that is similar to
      your company and then emphasis, with real-world examples, how your
      company is different from its competitors. While it may only be one
      aspect of your company that is different, really play it up. Remember
      that golf supply company mentioned earlier? Sure, there are plenty of
      other golf supply stores online, but this one is special. Perhaps the golf
      supply store also offers an exclusive service that tracks down golf
      instructors in your area and in your price range.


             Target Market


      Who will be buying your product or service? How old are they? What
      gender? What are the current market trends in this area? These are
      questions that should be answered in brief in the target market section
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      of your executive summary. There should be some "numbers" in this
      section including age demographics and income. Are you targeting the
      affluent populace, or the average middle class worker? You may wish
      to check out www.census.gov for surveys that can help in your market
      research.


             Marketing Plan


      Now is the time to show prospective investors just how you plan on
      marketing your business and shooting to the top of your market
      segment. How will you ensure your company is more desirable to
      customers than your competitors? How will you promote the business
      and its products? What sorts of tactics will you use? Will you create an
      e-newsletter to help draw in site traffic? What about offering freebies to
      encourage return visitors? Whatever your strategy is, outline it in this
      section.


             Operations Plan


      Will you be running your online business out of your home? Or, will it
      require additional office space? What sort of equipment is needed?
      What about shipping and delivery concerns? What type of labor is
      required? Answer these questions briefly in this section by letting
      potential investors know how you plan to run your business.


             Financial Plan


      Now it's time for the nitty-gritty of the executive summary. It all comes
      down to money. How much money do you expect to earn in the next
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      five years? Be sure break these numbers down into quarterly
      installments. Also, how much capital do you currently have? Lastly,
      how much money will you require in order for your business dreams to
      be realized? Outline just what it is you will use the investor's money for,
      how they will get their money back and how much they can expect to
      earn from the transaction.


      Table of Contents


      It is pretty self-explanatory, but the table of contents will outline the
      broad sections that will be covered in the business plan. It is placed
      directly after the executive summary. While you may create a tentative
      table of contents right at the beginning of your business plan drafting,
      be sure to go over it several times during the final edit. Check to see if
      the page numbers are correct and the order of the sections matches
      up. Ideally, the Table of Contents should be the last thing you create,
      after every word of the business plan has been written, wordsmithed,
      checked and formatted – there’s no point in burning hours revising a
      table of contents for a document that’s still under development.


      Mission Statement


      Just as in the portion of your executive summary by the same name,
      the mission statement of your online business plan outlines how you
      will achieve your goals, You may also wish to include a more detailed
      version of your company description here, since both sections
      complement one another.
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      Begin with what your company can and will do for others. What is your
      long-term business goal? Is it to help people’s lives be a little easier
      with your innovative product? Or, do you wish to provide a service that
      will be irresistible to middle-class families? You can think of your
      mission statement almost as a slogan, but with more substance. You
      don’t need to razzle-dazzle prospective investors with crafty turns of
      phrase, but always keep in mind that you are selling a product. In this
      case, that product is faith in your company’s ability to move onward
      and upward in the marketplace.


      Next up, you can include your company description. Go all out on the
      details. If you’ve held the reader’s interest thus far, you’ll want to
      continue to wow them with quick, snappy information that gives them
      the knowledge they need fast. Some key things to include:


          -   Your company name and web address.
          -   What is it you are selling? Be brief and to the point here.
          -   Who are your target customers?
          -   Company history. How long have you been in business? What
              is your record of profits and losses?
          -   How did your company begin? How has it grown? How have
              you and your management team solved problems along the
              way?
          -   What makes your online company stand out from the rest?
              What features do you offer that no other company in your
              specific market offers?
          -   How will you attract visitors and repeat visitors?
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      Management


      Just because your business is an online endeavor, does not mean you
      can skimp when it comes to a proper management team. Members of
      your team should be well versed in all things Internet, with extensive
      experience and familiarity with the web. Other than that, however, your
      management team should possess the same qualities required of
      management teams for brick and mortar businesses such as
      technological savvy, leadership, discipline and skills like experience
      with sales or marketing.


      In the management section of your business plan, you’ll want to outline
      the key members of your management team, including their
      experience and skills. Even if you contract out work, include the
      information on these people as well. Remember: an investor will place
      their money on the line for a company with an excellent management
      team and an okay business model any day of the week.


      A key management-related item to include in the appendix of your
      business plan is a chart illustrating the relationships between each of
      your team members and what responsibilities and goals are assigned
      to each. In the management section, you should refer to this appendix
      chart, but don’t assume readers will jump to the page. Instead,
      summarize the goals and responsibilities your team members. Be sure
      to indicate how each member plays off of another. In other words, how
      do your management team members complement one another for
      maximum results? And another thing: include the resumes of each of
      your management team members in the appendix.
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      Another important aspect of this section is how you plan on hiring
      employees. Will you place ads on job boards or network? Outline your
      tactics and show how they have worked in the past—if applicable.


      Market Analysis


      The dreaded competitor—they strike fear in the hearts of many
      budding entrepreneurs, sending many scurrying back out of the web
      pond to dry, un-scary shore. But if you have a dream for a business
      that is truly viable and you have the vision to back it up, get back over
      here and dip your toes in the water. There won’t be any scary
      monsters lurking out there in the land of the web to take over your
      target market if you know what to look for.


      So how do you size up the competition? First, use popular search
      engines such as Google or Yahoo to search for key terms related to
      your business. For instance, in the case of the golf supply store you
      could use search words such as “golf supply,” “golf store,” “golf
      lessons,” or “golf training.” You’ll likely get a listing of many websites
      that, like yours, offers golf products for sale. Examine these websites
      carefully. What do they sell, specifically? What market are they
      catering to? How does your business differ?


      But it doesn’t stop there. Just because your business is located online
      doesn’t mean you can’t get out in the physical world for research
      purposes. Look through print ads to see what’s being sold. Check out
      the ads in magazines that may contain a readership similar to your
      target market. What sorts of items are they advertising? Contact
      consumers via the Internet or phone to ask them about their interests
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      in a product like yours. The point is, be creative in how you find
      information and you’ll end up finding more accurate data.


      Keep track of how your competitors advertise, their pricing and sales.
      What do their ads look like? Is it fun and quick with a snappy slogan?
      Or, is the ad copy more descriptive and aiming more toward informing
      potential customers of the benefits of their product? How much do their
      products cost? What percentage are prices dropped at sale time? Most
      importantly, how does your business measure up? Are your prices
      much higher? Much lower?


      Don’t forget to read industry publications. They’ll keep you up to date
      on industry trends in your market sector, what your current competitors
      are up to and new competition emerging on the horizon.


      Target Market and Customers


      The key to marketing a product and increasing profits is to know your
      customer. It also shows you are worthy of investment money.
      According to the SBA, you can “identify your customers by their age,
      sex, income, educational level, and residence.” Identifying your target
      market helps you create marketing plans tailored specifically to
      potential customers. So, for that golf product company, your target
      market may be men between the ages of 35 and 55, upper-middle
      class with a college education.


      With this image of your target customer in mind, next you’ll need to
      figure out the growth potential of this market. Remember all of that
      research you did, earlier? Now is the time to use it.
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      How to use that information is the key. You can’t just use this section
      of the business plan as an information dump. Rather, you need to use
      statistics and information on your target customers in a logical manner
      and draw conclusions based on this evidence. Perhaps you’ve found
      that 40% of consumers in your target market play golf regularly. That’s
      a great number to cite, but what about these golfers’ internet patterns?
      Are they online frequently? If not, your online business won’t stand a
      chance in this market.


      Next, consider how your product or service fulfills a need or desire in
      your potential customer. How much money does your targeted market
      spend on products like yours? What are your target market’s buying
      habits? All of these questions must be answered in detail, citing
      specific evidence for your claims.


      You may also need to consider the specifics of a potential customer’s
      online purchasing experience. What sort of website do they prefer?
      Most people enjoy a website that is quick loading, easy to follow and
      organized. In fact, organization may just be one of the most important
      parts of online purchasing second to customer service. But what is
      truly the best guidance when it comes to purchasing research?
      Yourself! What do you like when shopping online? What do you find
      particularly helpful, resourceful, annoying or inhibiting? What makes
      you drop items into the shopping cart again and again? Implementing
      these ideals on your business model can work wonders in drawing
      repeat customers. And, it gives you something to round out this section
      of the business plan with: concrete evidence that you know what the
      customer wants and just how you plan on providing them with it.
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      A few more web optimization points to consider:


          -   Are your web policies and privacy claims easy to find?
          -   Is access to customer service readily available on every page,
              via a help button, troubleshooting section or toll-free 1800
              number?
          -   Are your products organized in an intuitive manner?
          -   Do you notify customers when products are ordered, billed and
              shipped?


      Products and Services


      It is time to don the shoes of the customer. After all, everyone is a
      customer. But right now, pretend you are shopping for your own
      product or service. Just how will purchasing this product or service
      benefit you now? How about the benefits incurred over a length of
      time? Will purchasing fulfill a need in your life or will it fulfill a want?
      What would push you to click the “Buy” button?


      By viewing your own product through the eyes of the customer, you put
      yourself at a great advantage. With this knowledge in mind, you can
      then go out and market the product or service to the potential customer
      with a leg up on the competition. But in order to do that, you need to
      come up with a description of your product or service and that’s just
      what this section is for.


      It is best that your product or service already be in production before
      seeking capital. If a potential investor starts to read your business plan
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      with interest, they’ll be turned off to discover that your product hasn’t
      been fully developed or tested. A product that is already on the market
      or at the starting gates has a much better chance of persuading an
      investor.


      But how do you show venture capitalists, angels and the like that your
      product truly is something worth investing in? Show them the numbers!
      Distribute product samples to people in your target market. Follow up
      with these people to ask their opinion. Include customer ratings and
      reviews in this section to further back up your claims. In the appendix
      to your plan, include images of your product. Depending on the
      product, you might distribute a sample product along with the business
      plan.


      Next, describe your product. What does it do and what is it for? How is
      it unique compared to similar products in your market sector? What is it
      about your business that can best propel this product into the hands of
      many consumers? Is your product patented or copyrighted? Be sure
      your product description is both succinct and thorough. You’ll most
      likely use this description on your websites and in promotional
      materials, so make sure it is informative and highlights your product in
      a favorable way.


      Marketing Plan


      Now that potential investors know what all about your management
      team, your competitors and your product, they’ll be interested in seeing
      just how you plan on attracting actual customers and how you plan on
      keeping them from turning to your competition.
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      So where to begin in the art of marketing and promotion? Start with the
      cheapest ideas and work your way up to the more expensive
      marketing endeavors. For starters, you could write short articles
      pertaining to your product or service and send them in to relevant
      magazines or newspapers. Or, you could start up an online newsletter,
      where visitors to your site can sign up and receive information
      regularly, including product updates, sales and the like. Volunteer your
      time to speaking engagements that can bring about awareness to your
      product and business. You can advertise on other websites by means
      of banners or text links. Participate in relevant forums and include your
      website address in the signature. Begin a link exchange system on
      your website and offer to link to other sites if they agree to post your
      link or ad.


      As you can see, there are numerous ways of promoting your business
      online without shelling out a dime. But, some methods of marketing do
      cost money, including direct mail advertising, ad creation, press
      release creation and other such items. Potential investors want to see
      that you have allocated enough money for promotion and show a keen
      interest in keeping your business in the public eye. Ignoring marketing
      is like throwing your business down the drain. Your company will not
      market itself. It takes serious commitment in both time and money to
      come up with a marketing plan that works.


      It is also imperative to always keep the target customer in mind. What
      sorts of advertising strategies appeal most to them? What brings your
      target market back to a website again and again? Again, research is
      required here. Cite examples and statistics of customer interest. It is
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      great 90% of consumers in your target market shop online, but where
      did you get that information from? And, in what ways will you ensure a
      large portion of that 90% chooses your website to make their
      purchase?


      A few ways to encourage customers to shop from your company
      include being upfront, making the customer feel safe and making the
      customer's job easy. By being upfront, we mean to provide all of the
      information you can on your website. Under the ‘About Us’ section,
      include a detailed description of your management team, your mission
      statement and company description. Provide all of your contact
      information, as well. Likewise, be sure to keep company return
      policies, guarantees and return policies in a prominent and easy-to-find
      spot on the site. How long will it take from the moment a customer
      places an order until the moment they receive their purchase? Include
      estimated shipping times (and prices!) on your site as well.


      In order to make the customer feel safe you’ll need to implement (or
      ensure your hosting company implements) encryption and security
      devices. Most web browsers indicate when a website is secure by
      displaying a locked padlock somewhere on the screen. Customers
      need to see this in order to purchase. Also, if you accept credit card
      payments, ensure all forms sent electronically are encrypted and that
      the website server has virus and identity theft protection. As
      technology leaps ahead of the law, owners of online businesses need
      to take the extra step in securing their websites to not only protect the
      customer, but to also protect themselves. Remember, its likely that any
      serious investor is going to check out your site for themselves – it
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      needs to be functional and well-thought-out BEFORE you go looking
      for investment capital.


      Finally, you’ll need to make the customer's job a piece of cake.
      Consumers are busy people and want to find the product their looking
      for, enter a little information and press “Buy,” without having to do an
      enormous amount of searching. Make sure your site is laid out in an
      intuitive manner and make the purchasing process simple. There are
      many programs available that help online businesses set up a
      shopping cart and database to make purchasing as easy as a click of
      the mouse. Complicated forms that need to be printed out and mailed
      in decrease your chances at making a sale, as do lack of security
      protection and lack of guarantees.


      Now, finalizing a sale is fantastic, but pointless if you can’t direct traffic
      to your website. The best way to draw traffic to your site is to offer
      something more than just your product. That can be done by offering
      content related to your product. Your maternity clothing company can
      provide unique articles on aspects of pregnancy and parenting. You
      can host forums that allow users to interact and discuss topics they’re
      interested in. You can hold a contest that gives away one of your
      products as a prize. As you can see, there are numerous ways to draw
      traffic to your site for informational purposes, which may result in a
      purchase. It is best to have a well-rounded site that appeals to both the
      consumer's desire for information and for a useful product or service.
      Your investors will see that and it will boost their confidence in your
      venture.
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      Operations Plan


      It’s all about productivity. How your business will operate—everything
      from manufacturing to customer service—should be covered in this
      section. Investors are more willing to place their money in the hands of
      a company that has streamlined operations. A website that crashes
      because of server instability, or an inability to meet bandwidth
      demands shows a lack of knowledge of the Internet marketplace. With
      people relying on the Net in their daily lives, to complete transactions,
      send important information and complete their jobs, a stable server
      and a website that can meet the demands of many simultaneous users
      is imperative in today’s digital marketplace.


      Outline how you plan on managing site problems and regular site
      usage. Showing you have a clear understanding of server demands
      and the expectations of the online customer will impress potential
      investors.


      In order to create an operations plan, you’ll need to revisit all of that
      research you did about your competition. How do their companies
      operate? Pretend you are a customer and do some competitor website
      browsing. Maybe even purchase a product. What is their purchasing
      process like? How do they encourage visitors to purchase their
      product? How is their customer service? Personal or entirely
      automated? Noting these sorts of things can help you make decisions
      about your own online business.


      What about operating costs? Potential investors are going to want to
      see just how much money it will take to keep your business operating
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      in the black. Areas that you will need to consider such costs including
      manufacturing, equipment, insurance, marketing, labor, shipping and
      overhead. These costs help you determine the actual sale price of your
      product. This way, you can always stay on top of the game by
      maintaining a record of your expenses in relation to income. Plus, you
      can point out areas in which you can save your company money.
      Investors like to see people that think outside of the box, so showing
      them the ways in which you can carry out a productive business and
      cut costs is impressive.


      You will also need to briefly outline your business’s policies and
      procedures. While you may not need to go into minute detail, you
      should include the important elements of key departments of your
      company and how they will be run. For instance, what hours will your
      customer service be available? What about the troubleshooting or
      technical support staff? How will your Internet business cover its
      accounting needs? Will you contract this work out or hire an
      accountant or even create an accounting department? What about
      human resources? Or the sales department? Despite the fact that your
      company may pretty much be a one-person show run out of the spare
      bedroom, you should still take a professional approach to this section.


      Lastly, take into consideration how your website will be run. Will you
      contract out the web design elements, or will these be produced in-
      house? What about your advertising and marketing materials?
      Likewise, (and quite possibly, most importantly) have you chosen an
      Internet Service Provider (ISP) that suits your company’s needs? Do
      you have a server that is reliable? What about security? Will your
      customers feel safe online? What about your employees? It can be
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      easy to forget that there is an actual physical world outside of your
      online business—the world in which you and your employees will be
      working to make this business thrive. Be sure you account for this fact
      as well, by allotting for insurance, salaries, supplies and office security.
      Including all of these elements, or at least touching on them, shows
      prospective investors that you know what you’re talking about and
      have seriously thought this business model through to the finest detail.


      Financial Projections


      Now it’s time for the section of your business plan you’ve been waiting
      for—the part that talks about money. That is the entire point of creating
      this document, correct? So, you should take special care in producing
      this section with the investor in mind. Ask yourself, if you were an
      investor, what would you like to see? What would convince you of a
      company’s invest-worthiness? What sorts of things would you look for
      to ensure the company owners know how to handle money and will
      turn a profit on your investment?


      The key here is to show potential investors just how you plan on
      making your Internet business profitable and keeping it that way.
      Besides, who would invest in a company that they know will not make
      a return on their investment? That’s right: no one.


      One thing to consider right away is whether or not you will conquer the
      financial section alone or seek professional help. If you are a natural
      born number cruncher, go for it! But if you cringe at the thought of your
      high school math class, it may be wise to hire an individual, such as a
      CPA, that knows their business and can, financially, know yours.
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      Finding a good accountant or financial adviser shouldn’t be too
      difficult—there are many out there. But, be careful to review each
      candidate’s qualifications and check up on their references thoroughly.
      Another key element in hiring a financial adviser is finding someone
      with the patience and commitment to their profession to sit down and
      explain how they came up with the numbers they did to you. Even
      though you may deplore math and numbers in general, it’s a good idea
      to have a basic handle of how a balance sheet works or how your cash
      flow works. Why, you may ask? Quite simply, should an investor prove
      to be interested in your business, you’ll most likely need to meet with
      them and converse about your company, your goals, how you will
      accomplish these goals, the amount of money you require and how
      you will ensure your business profits. If you can’t read a balance sheet,
      you’ll be in serious trouble at this meeting.


      Now it's time for some specifics. The main parts of your Financial
      Projections section should include:


          -   Balance sheet
          -   Income projections: should be based on the first three years of
              your existence as a business. The first year should be detailed
              by month, while the second and third year should be detailed by
              quarter. Be sure to include information on how you came to
              these conclusions.
          -   Cash flow projections.
          -   Equipment and supplies.
          -   Loan applications.
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      Now if you already have a loan or other forms of funding, you will need
      to create two sub-sections titled something along the lines of “Current
      Funding” and “Funding Needed”. In the “Current Funding” subsection,
      describe the funding you have already acquired for your business,
      including loans and capital you’ve personally invested. Be sure to
      include documentation of any loan applications you’ve filed and the
      like. In the “Funding Needed” subsection, describe the amount of
      money you will need in order to fulfill your business goals. This is not
      the time to be vague. Rather, provide details as to the specifics of what
      you would use investment money for. Do you need to hire employees
      in order to expand your business? Will growing your company cause
      production costs to go up? What about office supplies and equipment?
      Provide specific items with specific prices for investors to review.


      Next, include a budget of how and where your money will be spent on
      starting up a business and operating a business. Include the big costs
      that it will take to get your business up and running (if it is not already)
      such as equipment, insurance, supplies, marketing, accounting,
      employees, and personal income. Next, outline an operating budget
      that provides realistic estimates on what it will take to run your
      business, including such things as employees, insurance, supplies,
      expenses, taxes, maintenance and loan payments.


      A few additional things to consider and include in your financial
      projections plan:


          -   Consider your accounting. Whether you keep track of the
              finances yourself or hire outside help, you’ll need to outline that
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              information and specify if you will be using a single or double-
              entry accounting system.
          -   Consider your inventory. How will you keep track of it and what
              sort of control system will you implement?
          -   Consider your history. Don’t forget to include a history of your
              company’s finances!

      The Final Edit


      First, take a deep breath. You did it! The business plan is written! But
      before you send it off to potential investors, take some time to review
      your work. It may seem like common sense, but please proofread!
      Nothing shortchanges your hours and hours of work like a misspelled
      word, a grammar mistake or a typo. You want to come off as
      professional as possible, so make sure that your prose is succinct and
      flawless.


      Next, make sure your executive summary acts as a coherent summary
      of what is to come in the business plan. Does it accurately portray what
      is included in the plan? What about the details? Are you consistent in
      providing as much information upfront as possible in the executive
      summary? Remember: many potential investors will not read past this
      section, so make sure it is brilliant! Show your executive summary (not
      necessarily the whole plan) to people of reasonable intelligence who
      aren’t extremely Internet-savvy, and ensure that a single reading of
      your text gives them a clear understanding of what exactly your
      business will do.


      As for the rest of the business plan, make sure it is proofread as well
      and try to stay away from overly complicated sentences and phrases.
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      Recruit the advice of an expert editor, or have a colleague read it over.
      Gather their opinion on whether or not your business plan is too long,
      too short; provides too much information or not enough. Also ask if the
      plan is ever muddled. Are your thoughts and assertions displayed
      clearly and in a logical manner and order?


      What about your facts? No doubt you’ve done your research, but have
      you checked (and double-checked) your data? Do you back up each
      claim you make with a relevant piece of evidence?


      Make sure you have a title page, one that includes the title of your
      business plan, your name, the date and your business’s contact
      information. Don’t just clip the entire plan together, either. Instead, use
      a report cover or get spiral binding for the most professional look.


      It’s great that you’ve done all of that fact-checking, but what about the
      numbers? Go over the financial projections section one more time to
      ensure accuracy. There’s nothing more humiliating that mathematical
      errors here.


      Don’t forget the appendix! You may have referred to this section
      several times in the course of your business plan, but now is the time
      to create it and polish it. What can you include in your appendix, you
      ask? Honestly, just about anything relevant to your business! You
      should include the resumes of your management team, press releases
      about your business and letters from interested or satisfied customers.
      You can also include product samples, pictures of your product,
      images of your design plans and even, perhaps a screenshot of your
      website if it is already up and running. Inclusion of such items allows
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      potential investors to gain a more well-rounded view of just what it is
      your business does and how it will run. It also shows that you are
      serious and have gone to a lot of trouble to compile this business plan.

      Avoiding Mistakes


      Writing a business plan is certainly a daunting task, but if you’re going
      to do it, you might as well do it right—right? Here a few a tips for
      avoiding common mistakes in order to ensure your time is time well
      spent.


      Keep it short and sweet. Fancy prose is not necessary. Rather, keep
      your prose concise and to the point. Be clear, but don’t over explain,
      either. The typical business plan is between 25-50 pages. You have a
      lot of information to include, so keep it simple!


      Be easy on the eyes. No fancy fonts or crazy colors. Instead, stick to
      standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial at 12 point. Also,
      make sure the plan is double-spaced with page numbers that are
      reflected in the table of contents.


      Package your plan appropriately: no binders, folders or custom covers.
      Instead, a simple report cover that will lie open flat on the desk will do.


      Sign, sealed, and (almost) delivered: Your business plan will be a little
      bit weighty once the time comes to send it off to potential investors.
      Don’t run the risk of having your plan—the one you’ve devoted hours
      on—getting sent back to you unread due to insufficient postage. Take
      your plan to the post office to be weighed, so you slap the right amount
      of stamps on the envelope, always.
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      And there you have it! A rough outline of how to compose your online
      business plan. It’s a lot of hard work, but once the investment offers
      come rolling in, you’ll be thankful for the time well spent.
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      Chapter 5 – Targeting Investors

      With your business plan in hand, now is the time to really begin your
      search for investors. But wait! Before you start mailing off the plan to
      those who you think would be interested in your business, make sure
      you have some funding set aside for travel. If a potential investor is
      interested, you'll need to meet with them in order to discuss your
      business in more detail and truly convince them that you and your
      company are worth investing in.


      Also, be prepared! There's nothing worse that pouring hours into a
      business plan if you cannot talk about your company without stumbling
      or mumbling. Be confident, be assertive and be investment-worthy.
      While it is your business they will be investing in, they will also be
      funding you and your dream. Be impressive.


      Lastly, don't just select one candidate and put all of your eggs in one
      basket. Choose several potential investors and make sure your
      business plan comes across their desk. Selecting too few investors
      runs the risk of big time disappointment when little to no funding comes
      your way.

      Types of Investors

      Venture Capitalists


      A venture capitalist is, essentially, a person or firm who, after
      evaluating your business plan, decide to invest money into your
      business by means of a loan, a stock purchase or what have you. This
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      individual or firm is taking a risk by funding your business, with the
      hope that you will be a success and make a return on their investment.
      Venture capitalists take a share of your future profits. If you succeed,
      so do they.


      There are many different types of venture capital according to the
      Arthur Young Guide to Financing For Growth (Owen). The ones most
      of concern to the expansion of your Internet business are:


          -   Private partnerships. These usually consist of a single investor
              with a lot of money set aside for potential investment
              opportunities.
          -   Public funds. These types of venture capital firms are typically
              the same or similar to private partnerships, but they have sold
              capital to the public.
          -   Individual investors. Don't ever discount the individual. While
              you may only get lump sum investments from firms, individual
              investments are nothing to sneeze at.

      Angels


      Angel investors often seek out start-ups or struggling businesses and
      help them get on their feet. A lot of the time, it helps who you know, as
      angels are most likely to invest in a company a family member or close
      friend has started. However, there are angels out there that do not see
      being a friend of the family as a prerequisite. Keep in mind, however
      that angel investors look for the same things venture capitalists do: a
      strong management team, increased profits and a return on their
      investment. Luckily, angels allow for a much slower return on their
      investment and do not require as high of a percentage of profit sharing.
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      Lenders


      Loan companies also look for a well thought out business plan and
      model. However, they make their money off of interest rather than your
      company's profits. However, a successful business is obviously much
      more profitable to a lender than a failed one. There are many different
      types of lenders, as well, from investment banking firms that sell your
      company's stock to the public, government loans like SBA, banks,
      finance companies and savings and loans according to the Arthur
      Young Guide.

      The Investment Money Search


      It's great to know who exactly you'll be dealing with when it comes to
      securing investment money. But it is also helpful to know where to
      look. With a bit of guidance you can find many firms, individuals and
      banks interested in investing in start-ups or expanding businesses.
      And what better place to start your Internet business funding search
      than online?

      Here are some great websites to get you started in your
      venture capital search:


      vFinance : A great website to search for potential investors and capital.


      Venture Capital Marketplace: Tons of resources for both the investor
      and business owner.
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      VC Fodder : Bringing together up-to-date resources, information and a
      venture capital firm network all under the same domain.

      Some places to begin your angel investor search include:


      Capital Match : A great site to get connected with the perfect angel
      investor for you and your business.


      Garage : Helps provide start-ups with information on angel investors.

      To secure a loan for your online business, you may wish to
      look at these websites:


      LoanBiz : A great place to apply for all sorts of types of loans.


      Financing Business : Investment bankers that help out companies with
      unique credit needs.


      Business Lenders : Focuses on helping out small businesses in need
      of loan money.


      Some of these websites would be considered networking sites. This
      means that you can be put in direct touch with a VC, lender or angel
      through the website. You may also have the option of posting your
      business plan, creating a list of potential investors and pitching them
      right online. This simplification of the financing process is great, but be
      wary of too good to be true offers. And remember, always do your
      research. An investor may look good in their own description, but look
      around--are they really as wonderful as they claim? Can you find
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      previous businesses they've invested in? These are all things to take
      into consideration when looking to pitch an investor.

      Choosing the Right Candidates


      Now that you have a nice big list of potential investors, it's time to
      narrow it down to those that would be most likely and most willing to
      risk their money on you and your online business. Once again, each
      section is broken down into venture capitalists, angels and lenders for
      your convenience. While there are many types of each of these
      categories, there are also several things you should consider when
      selecting a candidate.

      Venture Capitalists


      Venture capital firms vary nearly as much as businesses themselves.
      Luckily, there are a few basic categories in which most types fall.


      Specialized


      A specialized venture capital firm is one that focuses on one type of
      industry or business type. For instance, a specialized firm may only
      invest in companies whose focus is technology. Or, a specialized firm
      may only risk their money on service businesses. Be sure to remove
      VC firms from your list that do not fit your specific industry – you don’t
      want to waste your time, and you don’t want to waste theirs either –
      you never know when you’ll be working on a new business, and you
      don’t want to have burned your bridges.
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      Early-stage


      Early-stage venture capital firms like to invest in companies that are
      just getting off of the ground. Essentially, these firms specialize in
      financing start-up businesses or those companies with only a prototype
      of their product. Many firms opt for this specialization as the payoffs
      can be very large – of course, the risks are, as well.


      Growth


      If your business is already established but you'd like to expand, a
      growth-oriented venture capital firm is the way to go. These firms
      specialize in helping young but established businesses achieve their
      long-term goals, by funding expansions to manufacturing, marketing
      and other growth functions. While the risk is still high at this point in a
      business’ development, a VC firm may feel more comfortable investing
      in a company with a proven track record of profits.


      Regional


      Some venture capital firms only serve companies within a certain
      region or area. With your business being based online, you may need
      to read the fine print to see if you are eligible. The thinking at these
      firms is that by becoming familiar with a specific region's needs, they
      are better suited to invest in the most profitable businesses that will
      most likely be successful.
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      Angels


      While many angel investors are individuals with a high net-worth
      looking to help out aspiring entrepreneurs, many are also highly
      experienced in business and know how to make a company soar. In
      searching for an angel investor, look for these qualities:


      Experience


      Did the potential investor make their money off of a business of their
      own? Was it inherited? Do they have actual business experience?
      Finding an angel investor with hands on experience can be extremely
      beneficial. Having someone as a part of your company that can
      provide the knowledge to become truly successful is definitely an
      aspect you should pay close attention to when considering to whom to
      send your business plan to.


      Networking


      Sadly, business is often about who you know. Teaming up with an
      angel investor that has many business contacts in your particular
      industry or market can be extremely beneficial. In fact, business
      contacts can be more important or at least equally important to the
      actual financing itself.


      Actions Speak Louder
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      Before either of you sign on the dotted line, have they kept their word?
      Keep an eye on any contradictory behavior. For instance, if your
      potential angel wishes to stay out of your business and let you run the
      show, but is persistently nagging you about every little business
      decision, trouble may be brewing. Or, if all you hear is promises and
      nothing to back it up--they rave about how much they want to invest in
      your company, but would rather begin next week, then next month, etc.


      Professional Despite Relationship


      Angel investors are often people we know on a personal level, or are
      friends with someone we know on a personal level. This sort of
      intimacy can make such a business deal feel informal and relaxed. And
      that can be great. But, it is important for both you and the angel to
      know that this is, in fact, a real business deal wherein real money is
      being invested in a real company. They may never see this money
      again. It is important for that to be understood from the get-go to avoid
      nasty confrontations at the next family reunion, or what have you.

      Lenders


      Many banks offer business loans for small companies just starting out
      or wishing to expand. As you already know, there are many different
      types of lenders. However, once you have a list of potential
      candidates, you may wish to consider their take on the following. Doing
      so can help you avoid signing a contract with someone who will not
      give your business the attention of specialized service it deserves.
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      Interest


      While it shouldn't be the only deciding factor when choosing a lender,
      knowing how much you will need to pay back is important. The cost of
      your loan is vital and you will need to read the fine print to weed out
      any hidden costs.


      Understands Your Needs


      Signing on the dotted line should mean that you'll receive one-on-one
      service and comprehensive support. The lender should demonstrate
      an understanding of your business needs and support you as a
      partner, not just as a customer, according to the Arthur Young Guide.


      Reliability


      In order to have a successful relationship with you lender, you need to
      be able to trust that they will come through for you. Whether it is
      obtaining the amount of credit you need or having a loan officer that is
      committed to your business' needs, reliability plays a major role in
      deciding on a lender.

      General Investor Decision Tips


      You can never be too careful. A lot of money goes on the line during
      an investment deal, whether it is equity-based or debt-based.
      Regardless of type, you need to be sure your investor is up to the job
      and will come through for you when you need it the most. A few ways
      to ensure this are to:
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      Do Your Research!


      This can't be stressed enough. Even if a potential investor looks good
      on paper, there is a slim chance that they may only exist on paper--
      fraud alert!


      In order to weed out the bad grapes from the bunch, try a basic search
      on sites such as LocatePLUS.com and USSearch.com. Both of these
      sites offer searches of people, providing results on their business
      licenses, property, court judgments, criminal records and even
      bankruptcies. Obviously important information to know, a basic search
      costs only a few dollars and can help you find the honest and
      dependable candidates and throw out the liars or ambiguous ones.
      Remember: sometimes, no information at all is suspicious. Also, be
      watchful of a potential investor's name popping up on the search
      multiple times with many different spellings or variations. This is
      typically a sign of fraud.

      When In Doubt…


      Actually, not just when you're in doubt - always seek a consultant to
      review your investment deal. This third-party has no personal interest
      in your business or in the investor, so their opinion can be considered
      truly objective. The go-ahead from a consultant is a good sign that
      you're on your way to a great investment deal.

      Make Sure You Click


      This doesn’t mean your investor must be your new best friend. Rather,
      you should share similar ideals about business. Also, many investors
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      invest for a variety of different reasons. Some want control over
      company management, while others just want to help out and get a
      nice return on their money. Be sure that your potential investor is
      likeminded and is willing to be involved how ever much or little you
      would like them to be.


      Now, it's on to Chapter 6, where we deal with due diligence and you
      secure the investment of your dreams.
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      Chapter 6 – Dealing With Due Diligence

      You've piqued an investor's interest with your dazzling executive
      summary. They're in love with your business--on paper--and want to
      know more about you and your business pursuit. Unfortunately, that
      calls for a tedious process called due diligence, where you and your
      company are placed under the microscope. Luckily, if you prepare for
      this ahead of time, you should be able to deal with due diligence and
      get the investment money you need for your online business.


      In simple terms, due diligence is the process wherein research and
      analysis is conducted in order to decide whether or not a company is
      investment-worthy. It is under this process that protects both parties--
      the investor and the company from coming into any harm from one
      another.


      Due diligence is also an assessment of what a business has and its
      potential for profit. For a start up company, this assessment focuses
      more on the strengths of a company and the level of risk associated
      with investing in it on the ground floor. Investors want to see a return
      on their money; therefore, due diligence allows them to make the most
      educated decision about your company and whether or not they are
      the right investors for you.

      Reviewing Your Business


      Due diligence will typically take on the form of a review of all of the
      major components of your business. In fact, these reviews somewhat
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      follow the outline of your business plan. The major areas investors take
      a second look at include:


          -   Contracts
          -   Finances
          -   Operations
          -   Management
          -   Marketing


      During this process, you will be interviewed extensively, as will your
      management team, lawyer, accountant and clients. Investors want to
      gain a well-rounded view of your business before putting any money
      on the line. You've piqued their interest, now it's time to seal the deal!

      Contracts


      During due diligence, the investor, or more likely the investor's advisor,
      will review the legal aspects of your business. Any outstanding
      litigation will be reviewed as well as the contracts you currently have
      with shareholders, employees, and other important agreements such
      as mortgages, leases, suppliers, insurance and patents.

      Finances


      You should have much information about your company's financial
      status already in your business plan, but serious investors will want to
      see all of the documents you used as reference in order to back up
      your claims. Any audits, tax returns and financial statements will be
      reviewed to ensure your honesty and credibility as a business owner.
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      Operations


      Manufacturing and supplier information will be reviewed in order to see
      whether or not your product or service exhibits any risk of liability. Also,
      technology and equipment used will be evaluated. Returns and
      warranty information will be assessed to ensure a good, solid product.
      A high return rate shows that something fishy may be going on with
      your manufacturing or product design.

      Management


      Again, your detailed management analysis should be included in the
      business plan, but investors want to see all of your management
      information in one place during due diligence. This means, a detailed
      forecast of future management abilities and complete biographies and
      resumes for each member of the management team should be
      presented. Also, a chart of how your management team works together
      with employees can be helpful for investors to assess the structure of
      your business model. Investors also want to see that you are prepared,
      so a listing of your primary and back-up suppliers shows you're on the
      ball.

      Marketing


      Upon reviewing the marketing plan included in your business plan, an
      investor may wish to know more about how you plan on marketing your
      company and product. Marketing materials used in the past can be
      shown at this time to illustrate the success of your marketing attempts.
      Also, any press releases or promotional materials distributed should be
      shown. Have a lot of repeat customers? By all means, tell the investor
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      or his advisor. Prepare a listing of your major markets and include
      sales data and projected sales data.

      Be Ahead of the Game


      Now that you know briefly what the due diligence process entails, you
      can begin to prepare for it. Use this checklist below to make sure
      you've got all of your documents in order--before you send out your
      business plan. This is really the key to success. An investor may
      become excited about your proposal as soon as it hits their desk, but if
      it takes you weeks to prepare all of the necessary documents,
      excitement wanes and so does the likelihood of sealing the deal.


             Copies of contracts distributed including employment,
             mortgages, leases, insurance, patents, sales and shareholders
             agreements. Summarize each of these contracts for ease of
             reference.
             A report of litigation brought against your company. Summarize
             each lawsuit and have your lawyer write a letter of estimated
             outcome.
             Financial analysis reports.
             Tax returns for the past two years and tax payment schedules.
             If audited, copies of papers and correspondence distributed by
             auditor.
             A summary of assets.
             Financial statements for the past 5 years.
             Summary of returns.
             Warranty data.
             Equipment evaluation reports.
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             Report of management team's previous ability and future
             likelihood to continue to move in the right direction.
             Biographies and resumes of management team members.
             Copies of confidentiality agreements.
             List of suppliers.
             List of backup suppliers.
             Copies of press releases and marketing materials.
             Copy of past and projected sales information.
             Copies of speeches made by management.
             Any other document or information that could be called upon.

      What Investors Are Looking For


      Sure, you have a rough idea of what an investor is looking for by now.
      They want to invest in a company that is reliable, honest and has
      serious growth potential. But it may be helpful to you to know just what
      exactly it is they are looking at when flipping through pages and pages
      of documentation and interviewing nearly everyone involved in your
      business.


      The following requirements are the keys to your financing success. It is
      highly unlikely that an investor will put money on the line if your
      company does not meet one of these criteria.

      A big opportunity for growth.


      Most investors don't just want to make a return on their investment--
      they want to make a BIG return. In order for your company to be likely
      to expand rapidly, it must appeal to a large target market and fulfill a
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      need of the consumer, not just a want. Likewise, consumers in your
      target market need to be able to afford your product or service.

      A clearly defined and professional management team.


      If all you have is a dream and no experienced personnel on your team,
      you're out of luck. Investors like to see a strong management team with
      firsthand knowledge of business, preferably business in the same
      market as yours. These are the people that will be running the show,
      so without competent leadership an investor is unlikely to invest.

      A low risk level.


      It's sink or swim in the business world, and a potential investors won't
      sign any checks before having all of the risks of investing in your
      business laid out in front of them. Many should be identified in your
      business plan, with proposed solutions. However, an investor will look
      over your materials and may even ask you during an interview several
      questions about the risk factor. Some of these questions include:


          -   Does the management team fulfill all of the company's needs?
          -   Do members of the management team possess the skills and
              experience need to run an online business?
          -   Do members of the management team have previous
              entrepreneurial experience?
          -   Are there areas of the business that fall outside of the
              management team's expertise?
          -   What have you done to ensure you will outshine your
              competitors consistently?
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          -   Does your business plan, when executed, lend itself to a
              successful company?
          -   Will invested money make a return quickly?
          -   Is there much technological development required before
              product production can begin?
          -   Is there a risk that the proposed technology will not work?
          -   Is the target market large enough to turn a profit?
          -   Is the target market interested and willing to buy your product or
              service?
          -   Is the target market growing steadily?
          -   What about market change? Has research been done on the
              likelihood of a shift in the marketplace? Is a decrease of interest
              in your product likely?
          -   How much of a profit is your business likely to make?
          -   How soon will your business turn a profit?

      Reviewing Your Investor


      After numerous interviews, document faxing and sleepless nights, you
      have it--an investor ready to sign on the dotted line and commit funding
      to your business. But, before you scribble your signature, take one last
      look at your options. Is this investor truly the right one for your
      business? And what about the deal they have proposed to you, will it
      get the job done as far as growing your business to the desired size?
      Be sure to follow these remaining two steps before finalizing anything.

      Evaluate the Investment Deal
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      Regardless of how you look at it, this will be a long-term commitment
      for both you and the investor. Do you get along? Not just on a social
      level - do you share similar ideas of where your business will go?


      Also, make sure the investment proposal is suited to your current
      needs. Too much or too little investment can hinder you more than
      help and actually cause problems later down the line should you seek
      further financing or to begin a whole new business venture.


      What about your long-term goals? Will the investment deal help you
      fulfill them? If not, now is the time to get out. You may have gone
      through a lot of trouble to get to this point--the signing of the contract--
      but nothing is worse than being bound to something that does not
      benefit you or your business.

      Make Sure Everything Matches Up


      The agreement you will sign will obviously have legal implications. Be
      sure you know what these are before committing. Know and
      understand how this investment deal will impact your management
      team, representation and warranties. Also, be sure to have a legal
      adviser check to see if this agreement abides by government
      regulations and restrictions.


      And probably most importantly, understand how this agreement will
      affect your previous commitments and obligations such as contracts
      with employees, suppliers and banks. You certainly don't want to find
      out that a sudden increase in capital could cause a disruption in your
      loan!
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      Even though many these details are not discussed when agreeing on
      the terms of your deal, they are important and must be considered. Be
      sure everything is out in the open before you sign anything.

      Keep Your Investor in the Know


      All of the necessary documents are signed and you've been written a
      hefty check by your new investor. So you never have to talk to the
      investor again, right? Wrong!


      The most successful and beneficial investor--investee relationships are
      those in which communication is the highest priority. There will most
      likely be stipulations in your agreement about communication on
      certain aspects of the business, but you should mentally and
      emotionally commit yourself to going above and beyond what the deal
      says. Get documentation to the investor in a timely manner, update
      them on important decisions and take their opinion seriously.


      You will be in a relationship with this investor for quite some time, so it
      is best to make the most of it and get the most of it while you can. Your
      investor will most likely have much more experience than you in
      business relations and the like, so utilize their expertise whenever
      possible. And don't think of it as taking advantage. After all, the more
      you know and the better you run your online business, the higher the
      return your investor will see on their money! Everybody wins and you
      are well on your way to managing a successful Internet company sure
      to take the web by storm.


      Congratulations! You've learned everything you need to know on the
      basics of financing a business! But for those of you who like to really
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      get ahead fast, the following chapter will act as a guide to online
      resources that make financing your business just a little easier.
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      Chapter 7 – Resources

      For your convenience, we've compiled several resources aimed at
      helping budding entrepreneurs get started on the right foot in financing.

      Helpful Financing Websites


      SBA Financing - Loan Programs
      http://www.sba.gov/financing/sbaloan/snapshot.html


      About.com - Financing Your Business
      http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/financing/


      Entrepreneur - Business & Small Business
      http://www.entrepreneur.com/


      AllBusiness - Starting a Small Business
      http://www.allbusiness.com/business_advice/StartingBusiness/index-
      25.html


      Small Business Administration
      http://www.sba.gov/financing/index.html


      Business.com - The Business Search Engine
      http://www.business.com/


      Inc.com
      http://www.inc.com
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      Business Plan Websites


      Business Plan Center - Library of Real Business Plans
      http://www.businessplans.org/


      MoreBusiness - By Entrepreneurs For Entrepreneurs
      http://www.morebusiness.com/


      BizPlanIt - Virtual Business Plan
      http://www.bizplanit.com/vplan.html


      SBA - Writing The Plan
      http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/planning/writingplan.html

      Venture Capital


      Venture Capital Resource Library
      http://www.vfinance.com


      Venture Capital Online
      http://www.vcapital.com


      Venture Capital Database
      http://www.networkworld.com/bg/vc3/vc.jsp


      VentureOne
      http://www.ventureone.com/
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      Lenders


      BusinessFinance
      http://www.businessfinance.com/


      Getting Approved for a Small Business Loan
      http://www.allbusiness.com/articles/Loans/894-3891-3892.html


      Small Business Loans & Microlending
      http://www.accionusa.org/site/c.lvKVL9MUIsG/b.1359227/k.F8F8/Smal
      l_Business_Loans__Microlending__Business_Loan.htm

      Angels


      Angel Investors
      http://www.inc.com/guides/finance/24011.html


      Active Angel Investors
      http://www.activeangelinvestors.com/


      NBAI - Network of Business Angels and Investors
      http://www.nbai.net/


      The Smart Startup - Angel Investors
      http://www.antiventurecapital.com/angels.html
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      Helpful Books


      Loan Financing Guide for Small Business Owners by D. Neil Berdiev
      (2006)


      Financing the Small Business: A Complete Guide to Obtaining Bank
      Loans and All Other Types of Financing by Robert Sisson (2002)


      How to Raise Capital: Techniques and Strategies for Financing and
      Valuing your Small Business by Jeffrey Timmons, Stephen Spinelli and
      Andrew Zacharakis (2004)


      Financing Your Business Dreams With Other People's Money: How
      and Where to Find Money for Start-Up and Growing Businesses by
      Harold R. Lacy (1998)


      Writing a Convincing Business Plan by Arthur R. DeThomas, Ph.D.
      and Lin Grensing-Pophal (2001).
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




      Internet marketing resources


      Jeremy Burns Internet Marketing http://www.JeremyBurns.com


      Free Private Label Resell Rights Tips http://www.PLRTips.com


      Start your own Article Membership Website, Without Writing A Word of
      content on your own. http://www.ArticleWholesaler.com


      Products you can resell as your own such as the book you are reading
      now can be found at http://www.SourceCodeGoldMine.com




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H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




                                                   I give Corey's system the highest
      rating possible! Its 1,300+ pages of step-by-step lessons contain the exact SAME
      tested and proven fast-growth strategies he has personally used to generate over
      $40 million in online sales -- starting on a shoestring budget!

      And it's the SAME SYSTEM that literally 1,000s of his students have used to drive
      "truckloads" of cash out of the Internet.

      I strongly urge you to check out Corey's wealth-building system as soon as possible!
      Go to http://jeremyburns.com/a/tips for a FREE preview.
H ow To Su ccessfu ll y G et I n vest men t Mon ey For You r In t ern et B u si n ess -




      Bibliography

      Eglash, Joanne. How to Write A .Com Business Plan: The Internet
      Entrepreneur's Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Business
      Plans and Financing Options. McGraw-Hill: 2001.


      Lavinsky, Dave. "Raising Capital for Your Business: How Long Does ir
             Take?" Growthink.
      http://www.growthink.com/businessplan/Raising_Capital_for_Your_Bus
      iness.html


      Martin, Thomas J. Financing the Growing Business. Holt: 1980.


      Owen, Robert R., Daniel R. Garner and Dennis S. Bunder. Arthur
      Young Guide to Financing For Growth: Ten Alternatives for Raising
      Capital. Wiley & Sons: 1986.

				
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Description: How To Successfully Obtain Investment Money for Your Internet Business