Saturday, October 18, 2014

SCORE Orange County 3rd Annual Women Business Owners Conference

image This article was written by Michelle Russillo, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Business conferences tend to be a very important part of someone's training and development. There are conferences that are made exclusively for business women that will help train in the areas of business, networking, and leadership. This is why attending the SCORE OC's 3rd Annual Women Business Owner's Conference is something that many women are considering doing.

There are two primary reasons to attend this conference or one like it. It is to learn new skills and also to network with other business owners and future business leaders.

Of the many skills taught at this conference you are going to learn things like how to inspire and motivate clients, motivation techniques with current employees, how to attract the right talent into your group, consulting tips, what to do to get a website more visitors, tips on social media and search engine optimization, money and career management, and how to make a business even more profitable.

Each of these types of skills are taught by professionals like Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact and Kim Shepherd, CEO of Decision Toolbox. These professionals have actually had success in their specific area of expertise. They will teach you what actually works in 2014 and tell you what you need to avoid. This type of information is invaluable especially to those who are still working hard to get the success they have always wanted.

These skills are taught in sessions and classes that are easy to digest with the harder principles broken down so that anyone can understand them. Being taught by those who have been in their shoes before makes it that much more exciting.

Besides the things that you learn, you also have the ability to network with others. This means meeting new people that can be friends, business partners, mentors, and others. This type of networking and support is something that is so easy to do at a conference that typically doesn't happen in day to day life. At times, the relationships formed are more valuable in the long run than the material presented. For those who have never attended a conference like this before, you will be amazed at how easily lasting relationships are formed at these types of events.

This 3rd annual conference is held on October 30th, 2014 from 7:30 -3:30 and Cocktail Reception to follow at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa. It is primarily designed for women but men are able to attend as well. It is best to register early just in case it sells out. www.wboconference.com

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Editor’s Note: In the above photo, Dennis Wright (center) accepts the SCORE Chapter of the Year Award from Ken Yancey (left) CEO of the SCORE Association and Jerry Glenn (right) Chairman of the Board, SCORE Association. This is the fourth time Orange County SCORE has been honored with this award. No other SCORE chapter has won the award more than once. We owe this singular award to YOU, our valued clients. Your Business is our Success!!

Buying A Home Based Business Part 9: Investor Financing

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This article was written by Mike Capsuto, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Run your business idea up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. Unknown

Many purchases are financed through investors in exchange for partial ownership of the business. These investors range from friends and family to strategic investors. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Information in this article is provided for general educational use only. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of its content. One should seek the advice of their financial and legal counsel in every step of purchasing a business.

Friends & Family

Friends and family can be an essential source of funding. It is important that they understand how their investments works. Explain how you will use the money. Make it clear that you need an investment, not a board of directors. Be polite but firm. Sometimes people expect to have a say in how you run your business if they provide you money. This can strain your relationship.

Advantages:

• Investments sought from family may also be easier to acquire than that applied for from outside investors.

• The terms offered are likely to be considerably better than those of a professional investor.

• They already know and can trust you.

• They may be able to introduce you to some of their business associates and provide networking.

• The return they seek may also be lower.

Disadvantages:

• People expect to have a say in how you run your business if they provide you money. Make it clear that you need an investment, not a board of directors.

• Usually these arrangements tend to be made informally. Draw up all the documentation necessary to make it official. Involve your business lawyer to make sure everything is done legally with the terms of the agreement being completely understood by all parties.

• The amount that they will invest is low - $50,000 or less.

Angel Investors

Angel investors are high net-worth private individuals who invest in businesses looking for a higher return than found in traditional investments. Many are successful entrepreneurs who want to help other entrepreneurs get their business off the ground by providing their business knowledge along with their money. There are approximately 250,000 angel investors in the US who fund over 30,000 small companies each year. They often invest in groups with each taking a part ownership in the company.

Advantages:

• They invest their business knowledge and networking opportunities in addition to money.

• Relatively patient about their investments.

• Their investments range between $25,000 to $1 million - sufficient to help finance a business purchase.

Disadvantages:

• Difficult to find. Some sites are: www.commonangeles.com; www.savp.com; www.investorscircle.net.

• They often like to invest in groups. This can be hard for owner to manage the divergent interests of a large group of angel investors.

• Are very selective in their investments.

Venture Capitalists:

A venture capitalist is a professional investor. He or she manages a fund and is looking for suitable investments for that fund. They may have no business experience applicable to the targeted industry and are focused only on the potential rate of return on their investment your company can provide. Venture capitalists are attractive to new companies with limited operating history that are too small to raise investment capital or secure a loan. In exchange for the high risk assumed, venture capitalists usually get significant control over company decisions, in addition to a significant portion of the company's ownership and value.

Advantage:

• Typically they can provide additional capital if you need more to grow.

Disadvantages:

• Must be a fast growth business.

• Must be interested in selling the business or going public within three to five years for them to recoup their investment and profit.

• Must be prepared to share control.

Strategic Investors

These are Individuals or firms that seeks to invest in a business that complements their business strategic objectives by better enabling the products or services they sell.

Advantages:

• Because they are well known it enhances your credibility in the industry.

• They can provide immediate access to manufacturing, distribution, and marketing sources.

• They can provide your business with immediate contact opportunities.

Disadvantages:

• Can force you to modify your entire business to serve them.

• Dependency can be risky.

• Can prohibit you from selling to their competitors.

• They can cancel their business relationship with you on a moments notice.

Crowdfunding:

Crowdfunding allows businesses that are too small or risky to attract funding from financial institutions or investors, to seek funding through the internet. Under a proposal forwarded by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) companies seeking to raise $100,000 or less than would need to provide financial statements and tax returns for the most current fiscal year. Companies seeking to raise more than $100,000 and up to $500,000 would have to provide financial statements reviewed by a CPA. Audited financial statements would need to be provided from companies seeking to raise more than $500,000. The maximum that can be raised in a 12 month period is $1 million.

Advantages:

• Streamlined fund raising process - Crowdfunding must be done through a registered broker-dealer or registered “funding portal.” The online process allows a company to have their website and all of their documents and information in one place, so it’s a one-stop shop for interested investors.

• Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to review all the investors who are interested in their company, and approve or deny their investment. The entrepreneur is still very much in control of their fundraising round, and this option helps c

Disadvantages:

• Competition - depending upon what you are providing, you may encounter much competition for funding from people in the same field as you.

• Funding Limitations - crowdfunding caps the amount a person can invest in all crowdfundings over a 12-month period at 10% of annual income or net worth of $100,000 or more or the greater of $2,000 or 5% of annual income or net worth of less than $100,000.

• Cost – the cost of producing the required documentation can be extensive.

• Uncertainty- the SEC proposed rules and regulations are out for public comment. They can change in the near future.

Bottom line: Be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when seeking investors.

A One-Week Listening Leadership Challenge

This article was written by John C. Maxwell, in Success Magazine, October 2014, reprinted by permission

In a TED Talk I viewed recently, economic development expert Ernesto Sirolli told the story of working to develop sustainable agriculture in Africa for six years during the 1970s. Sirolli said his first project seemed simple enough: Plant a garden and teach the local Zambians how to grow tomatoes and zucchini.

Initially they made great progress. Sirolli and his team were amazed by how easy it was to grow food in Africa. After months of hard work, the garden burst with tomatoes.

Then one evening close to harvest time, Sirolli watched helplessly as some 200 hippopotamuses marched out of the river and ate everything.

“We said to the Zambians, ‘My God, the hippos!’” Sirolli recounted, “and the Zambians said, ‘Yes, that is why we have no agriculture here.’
“‘Why didn’t you tell us?’
“‘You never asked.’”

Sirolli and his team had a solid plan and good intentions, but without that one incredibly important piece of information about the hippos, their work in the garden was wasted. Through this experience, Sirolli learned the importance of listening first and acting second. I love his story because it illustrates a great truth that we can all learn: If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answers.

I’ve had to work hard to become a good listener. My impatient nature can make it difficult to stop and open my ears. Leaders tend to have a bias toward action, but over the years I have learned the value of listening with more intentionality. As a result, both my team and I have enjoyed better results.

Is it possible to be a leader without being a listener? Sure. I talk to employees all across the country who tell me they work for people who don’t listen to them. But is it possible to be a good leader without listening? No. Leaders cannot take their organizations to the highest levels without making the most of messages they hear from their people.

“A leader has to show curiosity,” former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca once said. “He has to listen to people outside the ‘Yes, sir’ crowd in his inner circle.... The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care.”

Take the following week-long challenge to improve your leadership listening.

The Listening Audit

The first step is to take an honest look at your current approach to communication. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Am I open to other people’s ideas?

2. Am I open to changing my opinion based on new information?

3. Am I actively seeking feedback and input in order to move the team forward?

4. Do I act defensively when criticized, or do I listen openly for the truth?

5. Do I ask questions in every conversation?

At the end of each day, reflect on the day’s interactions—every meeting, conference call, phone conversation and so on—and calculate the percentage of the time that you spent listening as opposed to the time you spent speaking. How much of the day were you actively taking in information? At the end of the week, tally up your percentages and get an average. Set a goal to increase your listening percentage in the upcoming week. Be sure to track your progress.

What you are trying to develop are these five strengths of a listening leader:

Connecting. In my book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I write about the Law of Connection, which states, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” You cannot connect with other people when you are the one doing all the talking! Do this intentionally. Stop, make eye contact and be fully present, and you’ll find yourself truly connecting—not half-listening.

Building confidence. Take time to listen to each person on your team. New people, in particular, offer a fresh perspective that can lead to valuable insights, but they may not feel they have the right to contribute their thoughts. Shake their insecurity by soliciting their ideas and taking those suggestions to heart. Henry David Thoreau once said, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer.” Don’t you feel the same way?

Soliciting ideas. Great leaders create an environment of innovation. That requires actively seeking out new ideas. I often find that listening precedes great periods of creativity in an organization. In the words of Richard Branson, “Any organization’s best assets are its people, and if you are ready to help the team to achieve its goals, you can start gathering information on how to move things along just by paying attention to what employees are saying.”

Taking action. With your new focus on intentional listening, you will probably find that you have an abundance of good ideas at your fingertips. Just hearing them isn’t enough. Good ideas have expiration dates. You need to act before they become dated, irrelevant or otherwise spoiled. A bonus: Members of your team will see your responsiveness, feel valued, trust you with their ideas and keep bringing them forward.

Reflecting nightly. Maximize your new habits by taking time before bed to think and reflect so you can process and apply what you have learned.

Do you want to increase your leadership capacity? Work on applying these practices on a consistent basis. Pastor and speaker Robert Schuller once said, “Big egos have little ears.”

I challenge you to become the opposite—a small ego with big ears. Because that’s the kind of person who truly excels.

Are you giving your employees the permission to speak freely? Find out how to inspire healthy boundaries on your team.