Business Owners Toolbox Blog Discussions and articles to help the small business owner solve the challenges they face as they grow their business.

April 27, 2010

How entrepreneurs get started

From a question on LinkedIn by Robert Saric: “Do you agree — first build the product everyone wants, then raise enough money to build the business?”

I agree, Robert. If you don’t have a workable product, then you cannot demonstrate that everybody wants it. Without this evidence, nobody will invest in you.

Creativity and innovation are hard; building a business around these is much easier (though still difficult). Creativity and innovation are rare, business skills are much more common, investment capital is plentiful. But investors want strong evidence that you can give them a 5x return.

Thus most businesses are initially self-funded, or rely on “3F funding”: family, friends, and fools. You go into hock to build your prototype and see if you can generate some market buzz. Then you go after angel or VC backers. You get some seed capital, do more marketing, produce more results, then go after 2nd round financing.

You build stepwise in this manner. You hire only those who are essential to get your product to the next level.

Pre-dot-bomb and pre-“great recession” rules were much different, but this is 2010, and investors hold their cash with an iron fist.

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If you’re in this situation, and don’t see where the capital is going to come from, let me know. I’ll be glad to talk you through it.

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