Ashton Kutcher made headlines at SXSW this year when he announced the launch of a new investment fund with business partner Guy Oseary. But Kutcher and Oseary are not new to the startup game.
In fact, Kutcher made early investments in Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify, showing a keen eye for investing in promising startups. When CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo asked Kutcher what he looks for in new companies, one of his answers was “extraordinary entrepreneurs.”
What creates an “extraordinary entrepreneur” in the eyes of an investor? As Founder and CEO of Foxwordy, a startup that is the first private social network for lawyers, as well as a member of one of the largest angel investor groups that invests in Silicon Valley startups, I’ve found there are key qualities that attract investors’ attention and lead to strong, lasting investor/entrepreneur relationships.
Related: The 7 Traits of the (Really) Wealthy
Here are seven key attributes of extraordinary entrepreneurs:
When it comes to your funding strategy, there are three schools of thought. One approach is to take only those investments you currently need, while the other approach is to take as much investment as you are able to get. Yet another approach is forget fundraising and focus on building the best business you can and the money will come.
While there are pros and cons to each approach, what’s important is to figure out which one makes sense for your venture and stick to it.
Defining your strategy in advance helps avoid setting yourself up for unmet expectations or taking your eye off the ball when it needs to be on the product or the business.
Whatever funding you have must be used wisely. Spend your investors’ money as if it were your own. Even better, have it be your own. I am a strong believer in the importance of entrepreneurs investing their own money into their own companies, and it is something investors are bound to appreciate and respect.
WhatsApp, for example, hardly spent any of the $8M they raised from early investors, because they didn’t need to, although they certainly could have. Spend when you need to do so and save when you don’t.
Investor Mark Birch explains that prior domain expertise is not always a prerequisite to startup success. However, Birch cautions, “You can’t simply Google and Wikipedia your way to expertise, it requires time, research, talking to knowledgeable people and digging deep into the guts of the matter.”
Indeed, if you are new to your startup’s industry and don’t have the necessary domain expertise, you’ll need to invest time in building knowledge and networks, as well as focus on making key hires that bring domain expertise to the table.
Zipcar founder Robin Chase, for example, talked about how she started a car company, yet knew nothing about cars. She made a smart move by hiring a VP of Operations who had deep experience with Hertz.
Related: 5 Traits of Successful Teams
Investors want to see that you have the backbone to deal with the difficult decisions that inevitably will arise. From having to fire family members to deciding whether to expand from a single location to multiple locations, entrepreneurs face tough calls on a routine basis and how you deal with those decisions demonstrates your leadership abilities.
Authentic communication is imperative to building trust in any relationship, especially between entrepreneurs and investors. Provide transparency via regular reporting and be sure to share the ups as well as the downs.
Investors know how challenging it is to build a new business and open, honest communication about challenges and successes is key.
You’ve heard it before and it’s true: never give up! Investors want to see determination. In fact, how you deal with setbacks can be the very thing that sets you apart in the eyes of investors.
Richard Branson says, “many venture capital investors evaluate potential partners on how they reacted to a failed business, seeing it as a test of character, rather than a mark against them.” The “key,” according to Branson, is how entrepreneurs bounce back.
7. Open to advice
Don’t be afraid to connect with potential investors for input and advice. Many investors are entrepreneurs themselves and have immense knowledge and experience to share.
Rather than demonstrating uncertainty or lack of knowledge, asking for advice shows a willingness to learn and consider multiple points of view.
Doing so may also open the window of opportunity for funding. As Datanyze CEO Ilya Semin noted, “If you want advice, ask for money. But if you want money, ask for advice.”
Related: How to Find the Entrepreneur Within
Is there a secret formula to being an “extraordinary entrepreneur”? Probably not. But adopting these seven attributes can certainly help you get recognized for the entrepreneur you are. Moving forward, demonstrating these key qualities will go miles towards ensuring the ongoing relationships with your investors are amazing.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Want To Get That Side Hustle You’ve Been Dreaming Of Off The Ground This Year?
Stop dreaming. Carve out 30 minutes a night after the kids are in bed, and start putting together something tangible.
Want to make extra income? Who doesn’t? That’s why so many people in recent years have been taking their talents and skills and turning them into a side hustle. In fact, according to a recent survey from Bankrate, nearly four in 10 Americans polled (37 percent) said they have a side hustle.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of people get stuck in the “dreaming” stage. They sit around brainstorming ideas and dreaming of the day they have a successful side hustle that brings them joy and money but never actually get started. Well, scratch that: This is the year to turn it all around.
And to do that, and get one step (or multiple steps) closer to turning your side gig idea into an actual money-maker, check out these five tips for how to get your side hustle off the ground this year.
1. Change your mindset
A lot of people never get their side hustle off the ground because they have the wrong mindset. I know it seems simple, but believing in yourself and thinking of yourself as a business owner and not just a hobbyist will make all of the difference when it comes to starting a successful side hustle.
Even if you’re nowhere near to being a successful business owner yet, act like one. In fact, the “fake it until you make it” strategy actually works. According to a study in Psychology Today, people gain influence by acting dominant and confident. This strategy has the ability to convince people you’re serious about your side hustle and can win you customers, too.
2. Create an agenda
You can’t expect your side hustle to take flight on its own; you’ve got to put in the hours to get it off the ground. I know it’s hard to feel motivated to do that when you’ve already got a full-time job and a ton of other responsibilities, but you’ve got to set time aside.
Luckily though, you don’t have to fear burning out to get it done: Chris Guillebeau, founder of the Side Hustle School and author of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, says that you can develop a successful side hustle by carving out just 20 to 30 minutes of your day. If you’re a parent, you might choose 30 minutes each evening after the kids are in bed; or you could even use your lunch break at work.
Whatever time you choose, put it in your calendar, set an alarm for it, stick to it and don’t let anyone drag you away from it.
3. Join a community
Sometimes we all need a little bit of inspiration to give us the push we need and some good solid advice to help us improve. That’s why you should join an online community for side hustlers. Joining with like-minded people can help you build a support system of buddies who have been where you are now and can provide a wealth of information to get your side hustle going.
There are tons of such groups onlines. Simply search for them on Facebook and LinkedIn and you’ll discover numerous groups for every niche. Ask questions, bounce ideas off other members, learn from others’ mistakes and get inspired by stories of success. All of this community interaction will push you in the right direction.
4. Build a tangible brand
Branding is the personality that identifies a company to its customers. Even if your business is only part-time, you still need to build a brand in order to attract customers and present yourself as a professional business. This means creating a logo, coming up with a tagline and developing a theme for your website, including a colour scheme and personality. All of this will work together to show your target audience who you are as a business.
If you’re thinking that all of that sounds expensive, don’t worry. For side hustlers who are strapped for cash, there are a number of ways to create a stunning brand while still saving your pennies. If you set up your website with WordPress, for example, you’ll find many free and affordable website themes to help you build a brand with just the click of a button. You can also use a free tool like Canva to create a gorgeous logo, business cards, flyers and more for your side hustle venture.
5. Start marketing your side hustle
The final step to getting your side hustle off the ground is to start putting yourself out there. So, whatever you do, don’t keep your side hustle a secret! Start telling all your friends, family and neighbours about your side hustle. One of them could become your first client or customer or could recommend you to someone he or she knows.
Next, get online and start marketing your side hustle on social media. Social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are particularly great for marketing product-based side hustles. Other free ways to market your side hustle online include joining forums like Quora, blogging and building an email list and cold-emailing potential clients to offer your services.
Over to you
Don’t sit around again this year wondering if your side hustle has what it takes to make money. Get out there and make it happen. With the new tips you’ve learned, this year will finally be the year you hit the ground running.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
7 Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Adopt Today
There are certain skills that any entrepreneur can adopt to help build a business and shape their future.
The road taken by the entrepreneur used to be the one least travelled. The one where only the bold dared to tread and few understood the risk or benefitted from the reward. Today, the road may be one travelled by many but it still comes with challenges and obstacles that can trip up the unwary. The best way to thrive, is to learn from other entrepreneurs, using their learnings and mistakes to sidestep the challenges and embrace the opportunities.
Here are seven skills that any entrepreneur can apply to their journey today:
1. A vision
Know exactly what you want. Have a clear idea of your end goal. Write it down, verbalise it, embrace it. This is how you know exactly where your steps will take you. Your vision is what defines the strategic goals of your company and what helps you create a business plan that will get you where you want to go.
2. Ask questions
Question yourself, your plans, your strategy, your business plans and your decisions. This is a critical skill that will ensure that you are constantly driving yourself to be better tomorrow than you are today. By challenging yourself at every turn you will refine your vision and ensure you are always on the right path.
3. Passion and energy
Nobody else is going to be passionate about your business. Nobody else has the energy to take it where it has to go. It is entirely up to you. This may sound extreme, but without these two key qualities you will battle to take your business through the complexities that lie ahead and onwards into long-term success.
4. A work ethic
Like passion and energy, a work ethic is critical. This is your business and your vision so you need to put in the hours. And there are a lot of hours.
If you’re not prepared for the weekends, late nights and unexpected holiday disruptions, then you may not be ready for the demands of being an entrepreneur.
5. Create opportunity
While you may be the vision, the passion and the workhorse of your business, it is important to remember that your company can only go so far with only one person behind the wheel. Learn how to build a team and focus your energy on building something bigger than yourself. Your drive should not be just about building a successful business, but creating opportunities for others.
Throughout your journey you will need to share your vision, ideals and business plans with your employees and your executives. They have to buy into what you are planning, to be fully engaged with the work that they do. This means you have to learn how to communicate clearly and create a transparent culture so people feel part of something and committed to what it represents.
Ultimately, you want your business to grow and this means mastering the art of selling. Regardless of your business proposition, it is likely you need customers to buy into your product or service. So, learn how to sell. A large part of this magic formula is made up of the passion, energy and work ethic you’ve already mastered, the rest is all about relationships, communication and hooking the clients.
Entrepreneurship: The Secret To Reaching Entrepreneurial Success And Fulfilment In Life
Let 2019 be the year of positive transformation for you personally and for your business or organisation! If not now, when!?
It is my passion and life’s’ work to bring the secrets to success and fulfilment to the forefront of entrepreneurs’ minds. It is actually not so much of a secret as most of us are aware of this albeit at a subconscious or intuitive level.
Why are we all not living examples of success, fulfilment and happiness of using this secret to our advantage if it is the ‘most worthwhile secret’ to unlock?
Well mostly because of our own doubts, fears and insecurities as well as leading complex and multi-faceted lives as entrepreneurs, spouses, partners, mothers and fathers. We cannot be expected to reach a level of expertise within all subject matter on the face of this planet, in one life time.
So much is written and said about positive thinking, the ability to attract to you what you want and designing your own life the way you want it as if there is one magic pill, or tool, or philosophy that can give you that.
Well , all poetic and beautiful theories indeed but without proper context, without considering that we are all unique and have different opinions, worldviews , beliefs about ourselves and religious or non-religious beliefs, it becomes very hard to believe that a ‘one size fits all and very generic approach to success and the unlocking of your own potential is the one answer.
Psychotherapy, prayer, Meditation, affirmations, Mantras, hypnosis, NLP, Leadership strategies and any form of therapy or tool that you can use to enhance your sense of fulfilment, purpose and success is only valid and can potentially ‘move mountains’ if you believe in it, diligently apply it without fail, more importantly, can only be truly effective when the aforesaid tool or strategy authentically resonates with who you truly are.
Why do millions upon millions of people bounce from one book, one guru, one course, one tool to the next without ever reaching a sense of sustained fulfilment and success?? Various reasons do exist for this phenomenon and this writing will explore some of, these aforementioned reasons.
Is success and fulfilment only reserved for the select few? Those that are regarded as super successful by society, the Jack Mas’, the Jeff Bezos’, the Tony Robbins’ of this world constitute less than 0.01% of the world population yet a high number of entrepreneurs secretly or not so secretly harbour the desire to emulate them. Is this but a pipe dream? No gambling man would take that odds, for sure!??
As a business writer, an entrepreneur, a Peak performance business, life coach and trainer I am privileged to experience entrepreneurship and the ‘art of fulfilment’ from various experiential angles and here is what I can state emphatically:
Being fulfilled can only be possible when –
- You take extreme responsibility and care for your mental development. This means to engage in daily practise of aligning your thoughts to your inspiring personal vision and purpose. This means to enhance your existing empowering beliefs and to systematically remove your doubts, fears and insecurities.
- You take extreme responsibility for your ‘biochemistry’. As a general example, Inflammation in your body, vitamin deficiencies, food allergies, and the constant release of cortisol (stress hormone) can cause mood swings, even depression. So irrespective of your strong attempts to improve your thinking, doing meditation and various forms of other practises will have no real positive effect if your ‘biochemistry’ is not optimal.
- You take extreme responsibility for the state of your body. Your body is the tool used for the expression of your mental capacity as well as a mirror to your internal ‘biochemistry’. Your body is a tool for taking expressive action and when disrespected will lower your levels of performance dramatically.
There are various alternatives to going to the gym or following generic diets. We are all unique and we must find ways to move and train our bodies that really resonates with what we enjoy and that is in alignment with our unique personalities. Do not simply fall for the latest fitness fad or diet. Do what serves the unique you the best and what you enjoy. Life is too short to follow gym routines and fitness that you do not enjoy purely because they are popular. Do some research and do some free trials to see what resonates with you.
- When you are authentically you. Trying to impress others, attempting to live the life that your parents, teachers and government wants for you is a sure path to leading an unfulfilled and depressed life. Be you. But first find out who you really are. Embark on the journey towards understanding what you truly value in life. Bravery and a willingness to fail combined with a keen focus on learning from each failure is a key requirement to this journey of discovery.
I can clearly tell you who you are not. You are not your job, your likes and dislikes, and you are most certainly not a personality type. The depths of you is on an existential scale. Do not live life on the periphery, meaning just do a job, have a family, pay bills and then die. Be brave enough to take a ‘deep dive’ into your own psychology and discover your awe inspiring potential and discover who you really are.
- When you find your life’s purpose.
‘The two most important events in your life is when you are born and when you find out why’ – Mark Twain
My life took a dramatic turn for the positive when I fully came to terms with the fact that my life’s’ purpose is to serve others in coaching them towards actualising their life’s dreams. If your job is not a passion – ‘Move, you are not a tree’-. What a misery when you spend eight to twelve hours a day within a job that you do not thoroughly enjoy. You perform exponentially better anyway when doing something that you love. As an example I wrote this article on a Saturday and not for a second did it feel like work, nor did I feel I am missing out on other things, it is a joyful sharing and expression of what I love doing.
It is time to take a long, hard and positively introspective look at yourself in the mirror as after all the only place where a personal and positive transformation can take place is within yourself. All the tools required to totally transform is within you it is just not apparent to you as it is hidden underneath your own doubts, fears, and insecurities. An external search for ‘the right guru’, or the right philosophy or tool will never be sufficient onto its own.
External parties such as spiritual gurus, coaches, trainers are simply there as mirrors to your own potential, and it is absolutely good to have a mentor , coach, or guru but ultimately realise that you have to do the work and that the answers must come from within. The problem with ‘external’ and generic answers is that it never came from you. Only when the answers truly come from your authentic purpose driven self, do they form the right path for you.
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