Ten Tips for Raising Money in Today’s Market

Day after day, companies are cutting jobs or warning investors to expect lower earnings. Venture capitalists are overly cautious and angel investors are folding their wings.
Things might seem bad right now, but market uncertainty does have some positive effects. In fact, this is a good time to look for funding. That may sound counterintuitive, but a more conservative approach from the investment community simply means they’re looking more closely for thatrelatively rarecompany that can succeed – your company. Remember: Investors are always looking for the next BIG idea – your idea.

Solid companies have a better chance of standing out now. With the hype gone, current market conditions force entrepreneurs to know their customers, curb expenses and develop businesses that make money. Here are 10 tips to make your company shine in today’s market.

1. Put Together a Strong Management Team: In today’s market, the scales have tipped toward experience in the proven fundamentals of business. The more you have, the more likely you will be able to succeed.
What makes a good team? For starters, members should have a track record in the industry you’re targeting or have started and run other companies. Ideally, teams should have industry connections, sales and marketing experience, technology expertise and financial skills. Investors will also be looking at the team’s commitment in terms of cash investment, as well as its “sweat” equity.

Corporate and advisory board members can help enhance the expertise and experience of a start-up’s managers. Choosing well-respected professional resources such as accountants and lawyers will not only expand your network, but also increase your credibility.

2. Have the Best Tools: You need an elevator pitch; a 1-3 page executive summary; a 12-15 slide presentation; và 20-30 page business plan. Along with these, credible financials have taken on paramount importance. Make sure your materials cover:
• the management team;
• the idea and how it fills a “must-have” need;
• the market opportunity (which must be big);
• the competitive landscape;
• and the clear competitive advantage your product has over others.
Investors will also want to know what barriers to entry will keep competitors from being in the exact same business. Examples might include patents, trade secrets and proprietary processes.

3. Focus on the Fundamentals: Investors are interested in seeing early indicators of success, such as lead customers or a prototype that is being beta-tested. But be warned: They’ll want to know whether customers are paying for the service or just enjoying a free trial. They’ll ask whether your customers will buy at the end of the trial or buy more of what they’re already paying for. In other words, if you can show revenue growth and a list of blue-chip customers, so much the better.
In today’s market, what matters isn’t whether you’re a B2C or B2B. What counts is whether your P2P (path-to-profitability) is clear. For example, just building a concept or a brand is unlikely to prove attractive, whereas developing a tangible product with a clear revenue stream and a convincing route to a successful exit will prove compelling.

4. Bootstrap it: No matter how much money is raised, keep cash balances high and your burn rate low. Forget big-budget tactics such as network TV ad campaigns. Use cost-efficient tools such as PR and viral marketing.
5. Adapt Quickly: Thoughtfully and Strategically: Investors understand that early-stage businesses may well fail to hit their numbers in the first year. Problems arise for a variety of reasons, usually due to overly optimistic sales projections.
So, they’ll want to know what strategies you have in place to cope with this slippage. You may have to think about strategic alliances, different marketing strategies or slashing costs. It is also recognized that even the most promising start-up may need more investment to reach cash break-even.

6. Make Connections: To get an angel’s attention, get a referral. While some investors read plans that come over the transom, those referred to them by a trusted source – a business associate, lawyer, accountant or banker – get far more attention. These professionals can open the most doors, because they’re usually the best connected. Other ways to meet people with deep pockets are to present at or attend a venture capital conference or angel club meeting. Network to find out about these opportunities.
7. Choose Investors Carefully: Entrepreneurs should be choosy about from whom they take money. Knowledgeable investors with good connections can jump-start a company and keep it thriving. Well-connected investors can even make it easier to get additional rounds of financing. Keep in touch with investors, and let them know how the company is doing by sending out a monthly summary and/or calling periodically. An informed investor is more likely to be a happy investor.
8. Never Stop Looking for Money: Raise more money than you think you need and get it while you can. Until all checks have cleared, keep looking. Deals do fall through.
9. Don’t Haggle Over Terms: Greed is not good. Don’t worry about dilution. Efforts to hoard stock and inflate valuations will make the company less attractive to suitors.
Valuation is clearly very important, but don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The entrepreneur must give credit to the value-add of the angel or professional investor. By understanding this, everyone can get a piece of a much larger pie than would otherwise be the case. Let experienced professionals such as lawyers and accountants handle terms and valuations. Heed their advice.
10. Be Passionate, Persistent and Patient: Be prepared for a lengthy process. Last year it typically took three to six months to find funding. It is now more likely to take nine. In this post-purge economy, new business leaders must be committed, passionate and thick-skinned. The process can be grueling.

Money Saving Tips

For Car Buyers: First, do your homework. Learn all you can about dealer tricks because they can quickly erase any discounts or other savings that you think you’re getting. Car dealers spend millions of dollars training their salespeople to get more money out of customers, and if you don’t know the tricks they use, you could be overcharged by thousands of dollars. Find out the dealer’s real cost on the car (it’s typically less than invoice) and the prices that smart shoppers are paying for that car, then research any other items you might want (loans, extended warranties, car alarms, etc.). Shop around for competitive auto loan (or lease) rates at banks, credit unions and lenders on the Web. When you find a great interest rate, get pre-approved at that lender before you start negotiating with dealers. If a dealer can beat the rate you found, let him finance the caron asimple interestcontract only. Otherwise, stick with your pre-approved loan.

When your homework is done and you’re ready to buy, you start the negotiating processwhere dealers quote prices and you make counter-offers. If you’ve done your homework properly, this process should result in less hagglingand lower prices. To make dealers compete (and drive the price down), use the Internet to get at least 6 price quotes before you start negotiating with any dealers. When you get to the contract stage, make sure the dealer doesn’t slip any hidden charges into your loan or lease. (This is known aspayment packing.”) To avoid this common rip-off, calculate your own monthly payments first. Finally, always negotiate the price of the car, not the monthly payment.

Before Running The Dryer Tips

Once you have gone through the basic dryer check to make sure that your dryer is running efficiently, there are a number of steps that you can make before you begin drying your clothes that can help reduce the cost of running the dryer. You can consider these steps:
Let the clothes naturally dry as much as possible before putting them in the dryer. Simply leaving them in a basket and letting the sit for a few hours after a wash instead of putting them directly into the dryer can save up to 25% on your energy bill. Placing them on an indoor rack to dry first and then using the dryer only to dry them that last little bit and to take out the wrinkles can save up to 75%.

Let the clothes go through an extra spin cycle or two in the washer before placing them in the dryer. The extra spin cycle will take more water out of the clothes meaning that they will dry faster. This is especially true of heavier clothing items such as jeans and towels. These items retain water even after a regular spin cycle.

When drying more than one load, place the lighter garments in the dryer first. This will mean that the dyer is already hot from the residual heat to help the heavier clothes dry more quickly.

When loading your dryer, place similar clothing types together (separate heavy cottons from lighter material clothes) to prevent over drying and wasting energy. This will allow you to dry for shorter cycles with the lighter clothes rather than the same length for all your loads.

Don’t overload the dryer. Overloading doesn’t allow ample space for the clothes to tumble and they will take longer to dry.

It’s also important not to under-load the dryer. Running a dryer for 30 minutes with a single T-shirt in the dryer costs the same as running it 30 minutes with a full load. In fact, it can take longer for smaller loads to dry. If you dry a smaller load, this reduces the tumbling effect within the dryer which can extend the length of time needed to dry the clothes. You want your dryer loads to be full without being overloaded.

MySpace blocks Photobucket embeds, what’s next?

This morning MySpace quietly blocked Photobucket content from user profiles, a move that cuts out a reported 25 to 30 percent of Photobucket’s 17 million monthly users from sharing content on the popular social network. Photo slideshows and video embeds are completely blocked, including those edited using the remix tool we covered in March.

The move came under the guise of Photobucket users posting ad content in their embeds, a move that’s expressly forbidden in MySpace’s user agreement. Previous MySpace blocks include Stickam, Revver and Imeem.

The big question is what major service MySpace decides to block next. With the recent roll out of Trailer Park and the upcoming news service, MySpace is beginning to dip its toes into areas previously handled by outside companies. How long before MySpace begins building and hosting these features while blocking out competing services altogether?

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Good Investments in the Stock Market

Although the decade began with a substantially down market, the leading stock market indexes have risen significantly. For investors, this is a good time to take stock of where we are and where we want to be, and plan how best to get there. What follows are a list of practical steps that can help all of us get our fiscal act together.

Periodically, it is a good idea to sit down and really figure out where you are with your finances. Pull out your banking and brokerage account statements, check your balances, and gather in one place all your fiscal information. Then take a good, hard look at what you see. If you have questions about the information presented on your brokerage or mutual fund statements, don’t ignore those questions. Speak up, ask questions, and get answers.

More Stock Market Investments Tips

After learning where you are, figure out where you want to be. What are your savings goals? Are they long-term (retirement, college education for your babies) or short-term (down payment on a house, college education for your high-school age kids)? Your goals determine your own personal tolerance for risk. If you’ll need your money in the short term, more conservative investments are appropriate. If you’re saving for the long haul, you might decide to take more risks. Just rememberyour risk tolerance is a very personal matter, based on your age and your personal savings goals. Your neighbor or your Uncle Fred may be much more conservative or aggressive than you are. But that doesn’t mean their investing strategy is right for you!

Invest for the long term

Before you invest, make sure you have enough money to eat and put a roof over your head. Pay yourself firstget rid of high-cost credit card debt. But the earlier you get a start on your savings goals, the less you’ll have to put away monthly to reach them. Historically, the investment that has provided the highest average rate of return over the long term has been stocks. But there are no guarantees of profits when you buy stock. Markets go up and markets go down in the short-term. That’s why it is best to think long-term when considering stock market investments.

Long term investments

There is no better wayover the long termto distribute risk than to diversify your investments. It is true that in some years, single stocks or individual sectors will outperform a diversified investment strategy, at least in the short term. But don’t forget that investors who hope to gain fantastic returns by investing in a single stock or one sector have also assumed the higher risks of a more narrow investing strategy. While diversifying your investments won’t bring you sky-high returns in boom times, it also means that you won’t lose everything when the boom times bust.

One way to diversify is to consider mutual funds. And here is where a little work can pay off handsomelybe sure to pay attention to a fund’s fees and expenses. Over time, expenses and fees can really make a difference. On an investment held for 20 years, a 1 percent annual fee will reduce the ending account balance by 18 percent.

Another way to diversify is to make sure that your retirement funds aren’t all invested in your employer’s stock. Even if that stock is a good long-term prospect, it is risky to have your retirement security depend in whole or in large part upon the fate of any one company.

Be honest. Do you really have the time and energy to adequately research individual stock investments? Most of us don’t have the experience and expertise of Wall Street traders who read financial statements for a living. It is important to be realistic about your own time commitments. Talking to co-workers and watching TV is not good investment research! That’s why many Americans begin investing not with individual stock picks, but with a broad based, low cost index fund. That way you’re broadly diversified from the beginning. As you find more time and gain confidence, you’ll know whether you’ve got the desire or interest to select individual stocks.

Safe Stock Investments

You owe it to yourself to check out any investment and investment professional with whom you do business. A few simple steps can save a great deal of heartache.

Before doing business with any investment professional, take full advantage of the power of the internet to check computerized databases for disciplinary information. Then contact your state securities regulator to find out if they have any additional information.

Before buying any stock, check out the company’s financial statements on the SEC’s website. All but the smallest public companies have to file financial statements with us. If the company doesn’t file with us, you’ll have to do a great deal of work on your own to make sure the company is legitimate and the investment appropriate for you. That’s because the lack of reliable, readily available information about company finances can open the door to fraud.

Always remember that people who sell investment products make money by doing so. Which doesn’t mean that they’ll give you bad advice, but it does mean that you’ve got to take responsibility for evaluating any recommendations you get. We advise people to never rely solely on an analyst’s recommendation when deciding whether to buy, hold, or sell a stock. Instead, do your own research-such as reading the prospectus for new companies or for public companies, the quarterly and annual reports filed with the SEC-to confirm whether a particular investment is appropriate for you in light of your individual financial circumstances. Don’t buy any investment product you don’t understand. And remember, any investment promising high returns necessarily carries a high risk that you’ll lose your money.

The Keys To Creating Independent Wealth
It will take time, but to create independent wealth, you need to build, buy and manage assets. What do I mean by assets? I mean stocks, government, corporate and municipal bonds, mutual funds, interest bearing accounts, businesses (including web based businesses), partial ownership in businesses, IP (including books, music, etc), rental real estate, etc. Investments that pay you money are assets. It will take time to build up enough assets that pay you enough so that you can quit your job and run for office or whatever you want to do.

You cannot really catapult yourself to wealth. No money down real estate is VERY risky. Most MLM salesmen don’t make very much money. Real bad scams abound. Take the time and build your portfolio of assets correctly. Study potential investments carefully. Be prepared to stick with your journey for the long haul. Hire an excellent fee only financial planner or broker to help you. Check for references and do a background check on your broker or financial planner! Prepare a complete business plan, research the market and the competition, and determine if your business is feasible, if you are going to start a business. Again, help may be required. And be advised, getting people to buy your stuff is HARD!

Read the Millionaire Next Door and model yourself after self made millionaires. Most self made millionaires live below their means and buy assets with the difference. The millionaires of the U.S. found profitable niches and exploited them. It took some time for the millionaires profiled to become wealthy. We are talking years. I would shy away from ANYONE telling me I could become wealthy instantly.

How much do you need to retire? You will probably need a million dollars, unless you are going to live as cheap as a college student. If you want to escape the rat race that bad, I would change careers and start a business on the side. A good withdrawal rate from your investments would be 5% or less.

Creating and executing your plan to create independent wealth won’t be easy, but don’t quit! Keep saving, investing, studying, learn new skills, and never quit, and I bet you have a good chance of ultimately reaching your goal.

It does not matter how much great information your web site contains if it is impossible for visitors, and visiting spiders, to find it. Navigation is your greatest tool to helping everyone find the pots of intellectual gold hidden beyond your homepage. Your visitors are like treasure seekers in your site-island. Make their journey easy and entertaining for making them come again. What you can actually do? In the menu navigation you can set all the links to your major inner contentcategory groups, services, features, content groups, forums and promotions. When you choose which links to put in the navigation bar, you need to have a clear vision of your site structure. A well-organized home page is good both for your user retention and for the search engine spidering. Talking about the navigation links, we can consider the importance of the top line path navigation. This thing is the way you to lead the spider and the visitors into your content, allowing an easy follow-up of the site structure. Remember that every page of your site needs to have an easy access both from and to the home page. This can be achieved either by linking your logo to point the Home page or setting a Home link in the top of the page.

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