Thursday, August 29, 2013
I just guest authored a new post for StartupBeat called " The End of Startup Incubators? Enter the Era of Startup "Excubators"...
Take a read of this post, and tell me if you think Ensemble is heading in the right direction with its new "excubator" model. We certainly have received a lot of positive feedback, but I welcome the reaction of Red Rocket's broader reader base in the comments section below.
For future posts, please follow us at: www.twitter.com/RedRocketVC. Thanks for sharing this post with your social networks, and helping us to get the word out there on Ensemble.
Monday, August 26, 2013
I was doing some keyword research on Google looking for topics that entrepreneurs were looking for answers to, and the number one searched t...
You can't start a business without a good idea. Back in Lesson #1, we talked about determining: do I have a good business idea? And, in Lesson #112, we learned how to come up startup ideas, if you didn't already have one. So, I won't reiterate those posts. But, at the end of the day, your idea needs to build a real-world solution to a real-world problem, preferably in a sizable market. And, in all cases, do what you love, as it is important you have a passion about your startup (Lesson #50) to get through the good times and the bad.
SET EXIT EXPECTATIONS
You need to decide if you are building this business as a lifestyle business for yourself, as the sole owner, or if you are trying to attract outside capital. Because the things you would do for yourself, may be different than the things you would do for outside capital. Outside investors will most-likely require much faster growth and a clear roadmap to exit for their investment after around five years. Whereas, you may be personally fine building a small revenue business that covers your desired lifestyle, without the hassle of outside investors.
RESEARCH YOUR MARKET
Before you get started, you need to do some preliminary market research for your startup, which we learned now to do back in Lesson #118. How large is your market? How competitive is your industry (Lesson #19)? How well funded are your competitors? Is it a market that will appeal to venture capitalists? You want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before you start. You are practically trying to kill your startup before you start (Lesson #128), and if you can't find a good reason to kill it, you are off to the races.
Once you have finished your market research, you need to build a a business plan (Lesson #7), determine your revenue model (Lesson #108), build a sales and marketing plan (Lesson #21) and build a budget for your business (Lesson #78). Where you can, bias businesses with a recurring revenue model (Lesson #132), to better leverage your upfront sales and marketing investment. As we learned in Lesson #120, in addition to budgeting for the development of your product or service, make sure you leave enough budget to test your sales and marketing efforts and acheive a profitable cost of customer acquisition and proof of concept that will appeal to future investors. In all cases, set reasonable milestones to shoot for along the way (Lesson #122)
Once you are sure you have a good and well-researched idea and business/financial model that makes sense, you should be in a position to launch your business. This includes a mix of frequent legal questions of startups from Lessons #56 and #70 (e.g., determining corporate structure, intellectual property protection, state of formation). And, it includes the basics of setting up your bank accounts, accounting policies and process (Lesson #61), employee handbook policies (Lesson #60) and insurance protection (Lesson #62). You also need to decide where best to locate your startup (Lesson #134) and how best to set up your board of directors and advisors (Lesson #12). A good startup lawyer, will be critical here.
Now, you need to build the actual product or service you plan on taking to market. That always starts with a good product and pricing strategy (Lesson #120). And, where you can, "productize" your business for maximum efficiency and scalability (Lesson #129). In building your product or service, you will need to decide if better to build your startup with in-house employees or third-party contractors (Lesson #130). In all cases, you will want to build a minimum viable product with which to test and to optimize over time--don't build a "Rolls Royce" if a "Toyota" can do the job to start.
Now, you need to build your startup team (Lesson #2), and determine your team's roles and responsibilities (Lesson #83). Once you know what roles you need to fill, you need to recruit employees for your startup (Lesson #34), determine employee compensation (Lesson #58), determine employee benefits (Lesson #59) and potentially give equity to key employees (Lesson #9). In all cases, make sure you hire people that are well-suited to fast-moving, nimble startup environments, preferably with a proven track record at prior startups.
The last piece of the puzzle, which is required for any startup, is capital. Back in Lesson #4, we talked about how to raise capital for startups. For very early stage businesses, if not your own money, this most likely means finding angel investors for your startup (Lesson #5) and other bootrapping financing techniques (Lesson #125). In all cases, you will need to build a reasonable bridge to a 10x return for your investors (Lesson #140) and structure the financing in a way that works for all parties (Lesson #116).
Now that I have finished writing this post, I pretty much could have sent the table of contents to Red Rocket's "101 Startup Lessons--An Entrepreneur's Handbook". So, make sure to read all the other lessons therein, to make sure you are heading in the right direction. Good luck!!
For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb. If you enjoyed this post, please click the social sharing buttons to share with your social networks.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
What started out as an unknown editorial adventure back in February 2011, has turned into over 100,000 reads of the Red Rocket Blog, to date...
I am glad you are enjoying our ever-expanding 101+ Startup Lessons--An Entrepreneur's Handbook (now up to Lesson #150!!).
I hope they are helping you grow your business. Thanks for continuing to share these lessons with anyone you think can benefit from them. The better we can collectively educate startups, a higher percentage of startups will succeed and the better our economy will grow. Which is the ultimate goal!!
For future lessons, please follow Red Rocket at: www.twitter.com/RedRocketVC.
Monday, August 19, 2013
As Red Rocket and Ensemble have expanded, so has our social media presence. In addition to our personal social profiles for George Deeb an...
Please help us seed the new Red Rocket profiles with users at the following links:
Twitter : LinkedIn : Google+ : Facebook : Vimeo : SlideShare : RSS.
You can also follow the new Ensemble alliance profiles at:
Twitter : LinkedIn : Google+ : Facebook.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
This morning, I had the pleasure of introducing the new Ensemble digital services alliance on TastyTrade's "Bootstrapping in Americ...
Here is the link to the video on the TastyTrade site:
To learn more about Ensemble's All-Star powered "digital services suite" bringing 20-40% savings to "Do-It-For-Me" entrepreneurs looking for high-ROI solutions based on current industry playbooks, please check out the video. And, you can get more information on the Ensemble website.
Thanks to Tom Sosnoff and Tony Battista for the interview, and to Jules Weinstein for making it happen. Also, be sure to check out TastyTrade's other Bootstrapping in America interviews with entrepreneurs on their website.
Please follow Ensemble on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/EnsembleHQ. And, if you enjoyed this video, thanks for clicking the social sharing buttons to share with your social networks.
Monday, August 12, 2013
The quality of a management team can make or break a startup. And, often times, tight budgets in the early years of a startup's life, d...
The program is designed for companies on a tight budget who desire part-time costs, but long term expertise and involvement of a proven executive that can help direct/manage the company on a part-time basis. This would be a fixed-rate, permanent "outsourced 20%-time executive" for the cost of around $5,000 per month (depending on the role). One Red Rocket team member would fill any of the executive roles needed within your company, including CEO, COO, CMO, CSO, CFO, CTO, CIO, CRO, CAO, CHRO, CLO and CDO roles, with 20% of their time (one day a week). And, that same person would simultaneously be doing the same thing with four other companies in the four other days of the week. This would work best for companies with light workloads in those areas, or needing a person to cost-effectively manage/mentor the junior-level execution team members on staff.
So, now, there is really no reason not to employ a program like this. It truly marries the best of both worlds: bringing proven A-Team executives that can bring their proven "magic" to your businesses, all at an affordable $5,000 per month price and 20%-time structure you can afford. So, let us know how we can help.
If you enjoyed this post or feel you know others that can benefit from this program, please click the social sharing buttons on this page to share with your social networks. And, for future posts, please follow Red Rocket at: www.twitter.com/RedRocketVC.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
CHICAGO, August 7, 2013—Five of Chicago’s award-winning digital services companies announce today the formation of Ensemble , a one-stop dig...
Ensemble’s “digital lab-in-a-box” solution aggregates the required niche skillsets needed for rapid growth of digitally-focused companies, including capital raising, business consulting, technology and marketing services, from Chicago’s best-of-breed digital service providers marketing under one cooperative brand. This provides a seamless and continuous client experience from startup ideation through successful growth.
For more information about Ensemble, please visit the alliance website at www.EnsembleHQ.com, where you can follow the alliance on the major social networks.