Sean PowerClarity Expert
Bio

Marketing analyst with experience in the nonprofit, consumer services, health care, and technology industries. I help companies pinpoint the relationship between marketing initiatives and business results.



Recent Answers


It sounds like you've got a problem of cash flow rather than a problem of raising capital. Capital can mean many different things, but what you need is cash flow.

There can be very flexible ways to solve cash flow problems. The two answers already provided are most common: line of credit and loans/investments from friends and family.

As for crowdfunding, the most effective rewards are usually very business- or context-specific. You probably won't get a satisfactory response without digging into the specific details of your company.

Let me know if you want to schedule a call.

https://clarity.fm/seanmpower

http://bansalpower.com/

Best,
Sean


Most companies I've worked with go the provisional patent route although I suspect it's highly dependent on the specific industry. I'd consult a lawyer.


I help companies manage projects. I'm working with one client right now who is conducting a redesign of their own so I'm a good fit to answer this question.

The term "redesign" has become ambiguous and your intention by the term will affect the answer to your question.

Are you simply redesigning the layout? Are you redesigning the navigation? The site structure? Are you writing brand new text? Are you keeping the same web pages and URLs?

When you say "ground up", I interpret it as all of the above, at the very minimum.

To answer your question:

The short answer is, if done right, no. Your search ranking will not be affected by the redesign and you will continue to enjoy business success.

The long answer is, probably. There exist so many points of failure with website redesigns "from the ground up" that the likelihood is high that somebody with limited exposure to redesigning websites will make mistakes that result in traffic loss.

Case in point:

My client is a charity. It has offices around the world, each with their own website. I'm managing the redesign of the Canadian office's website from the "ground up". I was not involved in the UK or Kenya office redesigns and their results were troubling to us in the Canadian office.

The UK office lost 60% of its traffic following its "ground up" redesign. The Kenya office, managed slightly better, lost 40% of its traffic. I'm projecting the Canadian office will lose 10% of our traffic, and that's following best practices. (I admit, I'm setting low expectations for us. I actually think we'll continue to experience traffic growth at about 20% year over year but I'm a believer in under-promising and over-delivering).

This traffic loss for the UK and Kenya websites has probably impacted the bottom line--the UK and Kenya offices both appear to have less traffic to their Donate page (although I don't have specific dollar-values to support that statement).

If your business lives and dies on the success of your business, call an expert. At the very least, get in touch with me so that I can send you some Excel spreadsheets, templates, and other documents you'll find useful if you choose to do it yourself. If your website is mission-critical, the redesign is not the time to be frugal.

Hope it helps.

Sean Power
Partner, Bansal & Power
http://bansalpower.com/


The only thing I might add to this set of answers is that you should consider reaching out to your 150 success stories and asking them the same question. They likely meet your "best people to answer" criteria and have a good understanding of the particular challenges of your constituents.

Some of the best mentors and advisors come from within the community. Your existing graduates, especially the two with over $1MM in annual sales, can probably give the most robust answer to your question.


I've worked with a couple of startups in your situation. Congratulations on receiving three offers. In this response I'll outline exactly how I coach entrepreneurs facing this decision. You can do it yourself but you might decide you want some help throughout the process. Feel free to reach out to me via Clarity for a free call.

When comparing a set of alternatives, start with your goals and work your way back. One exercise my clients find effective is thinking about what they ideally want their business to look like at the end of the incubator program and work their way backward.

Start by asking questions about your business goals. I challenge founders to think about what their balance sheet, income statements, and cash flow statements will look like at the end of incubation. Select the incubator that puts you in the best financial shape post-incubation.

Some people find it easiest to create these projections by looking at income statement first. Let's break it down:

Income - What are your revenue streams? How many customers do you have in each stream? What is the value of each transaction? How long do they stay with your company? Do customers come from the incubator's network?

(These are just some sample questions you'll want to answer. I invite other experts to add to the list. Feel free to reach out to me if you'd like mhealth specific questions.)

These questions allow you to come up with defensible projections about your income. The best way to answer these questions is to interview other clients at the incubator who are also in the mhealth space. Use their actuals to inform your forecasts.

By interviewing clients you collect evidence to inform your decision. Be cautious, though, about how much evidence you collect from each client base. If one incubator has two similar startups and another has twenty, have more confidence in the latter, since the sample size is larger.

Once you've got the data from other clients, think about how well it translates to your own business. For example, if your company earns $50 per month per customer and need 1,000 customers per month to succeed, and the clients you interview earn $200K per customer and need 3 customers to succeed, it is less certain that their results will translate to your business even though you'll bring in a similar amount after one year.

From these interviews you'll get a sense of what your income will look like. I recommend conducting these interviews over coffee or lunch. You'll get nonverbal cues about whether clients attribute their success to the incubator or to their own hard work.

Expenses - How much will it cost to build products? Access top talent? Acquire and maintain customer relationships? Retain professional fees? Overhead and administration?

Many incubators leverage its network to offer perks through partnerships to reduce expenses. Need project management software? You can probably find an incubator that offers a discount on Basecamp. Looking for a lawyer specializing in patent law in health? You might find an incubator with a partnership with Fasken Martineau.

Again, the best way to create your forecast is to ask about actuals. You probably already have a list of line items in the expenses section of your existing income statement. It's tough, and a little bit crass, to ask other clients to open their books to you, but the mentors at the incubator should be able to help you identify whether your estimates are high or low and help you adjust up or down accordingly. Interview as many mentors as you can to make the best possible decision.

Once you've collected the data, evaluate how relevant it is to your business and create forecasts from that information.

Now that you've got your income and expenses worked out, entrepreneurs tend to find the cash flow statement the next easiest part. You essentially want to make sure that you have cash when you need it to cover the bills.

Draw out M1, M2, …, Mn, where n is the number of months the incubation program lasts, in a spreadsheet. Write down when you think each infusion of cash will come and each bill will be paid. Do this for each incubator. Cash infusions might come from customer sales, equity investments, loans, or donations.

Are you in the red for any month? That's a warning sign that the incubator is a bad choice for you.

Take each document back to the mentors at each and ask if it passes the "sniff test". Ask them to adjust forward or back accordingly. Since they've already adjusted the dollar-values of each expense, at this point they should only be helping you identify if timing is accurate.

Still in the red in any month? Go back and negotiate better terms with more cash. Which one leaves you with the most cash at the end of the program? Is this the same one that gives you the most profit on your income statement? You might start to see a leading choice--at the very least, you should hopefully be able to rule one out.

With the income statement and cash flow statement you'll have an easy time preparing a balance sheet. Most of your assets will be cash and equipment (e.g. servers). Most of your liabilities will be accounts payable and any existing loans you have on your business.

Perform ratio analyses on each of the three hypothetical balance sheets. Ohio University has a great tutorial on the basics if this analysis is new to you.

http://www.ouwb.ohiou.edu/stinson/Classes2009/fin_formulas.pdf

Which balance sheet leaves you with the most favourable return ratios, with the most room for growth, at the lowest risk? Choose the incubator that is associated with that balance sheet.

I don't think you'll have a tie at the end of this process. But if you do, go with your gut. When meeting with clients and mentors, did you get a better "feel" from one incubator over another? Make your choice using qualitative criteria at that point.

An incubator's network tends to be its differentiating factor. The network that helps you reach your goals is the right one for your business. By thinking about how an incubator's network will impact your balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, you'll be able to choose the right incubator for your business.

This approach has a second benefit: you're establishing relationships with clients and mentors at all of the incubators through this evaluation process. By doing so, you'll be able to identify potential partners who can help you succeed, even if you don't decide to work with their incubator.

I'm a big fan of paying it forward. In due time you might find yourself on the other side of the table, helping an entrepreneur decide on the right incubator, and you might decide one of the other ones is right for them. You'll be able to facilitate introductions to all of the people you meet through this process.

Nothing is more important to the success of your business than choosing the right investment partner. This decision is critical. Please call someone with the right expertise to coach you through your next couple of months. Every expert on here just wants to help people succeed. Take advantage of that. :)

Best,

Sean Power
Partner, Bansal & Power
http://bansalpower.com/


I've coached a few startups through the strategic planning and fundraising process including both solo founders and co-founders. I also spent some time producing a livestream Internet TV show that interviewed startup founders and investors. This question exemplifies the situation where the answer an entrepreneur gives (or thinks she should give) is misaligned to the question the investor is asking.

Some investors are vocal that multiple founders mitigate risks:

http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2013/07/25/ed-zimmerman-why-i-prefer-to-invest-in-startups-with-multiple-founders/

http://arshadchowdhury.com/1587-how-many-founders-a-startup-should-have/

According to these two authors, some reasons why investors consider solo founders risky include:

-burnout
-model exists for investing in more than one founder and investors like following existing models
-multiple founders might offer complementary skills while solo founders might bring specialized expertise while struggling with other areas of the business

Paul Graham is well-known for famously listing the solo founder as one of the biggest mistakes a startup can make.

http://www.paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

Jeff Miller refuted this idea in 2010.

http://talkfast.org/2010/07/06/solo-founders/

Other risks to solo founders include:

-the business will fail if the founder becomes incapacitated
-startups with co-founders may experience more successful exits
-lead investors may find it easier to attract partners if you have a co-founder

These risks are all considerations that are outside your control that investors don't always share with you.

Startups with co-founders face their own set of risks and plenty of examples of failed startups exist to prove that these risks are real:

-visions for the company may not be aligned
-decisions may take longer
-overlapping areas of responsibility may confuse customers, staff, and members of the board of directors

In any event, you need to keep these risks in the back of your mind. Investors certainly have them in the back of theirs.

My advice, all of which is immediately actionable:

1. Spend some time preparing an investor scorecard. Identify what you need in an investor to make your scaling process successful.

2. Research several investors and assign them a score based on your criteria.

3. Look at the portfolios of investors who scored within the 90th percentile of your evaluation process. Is their portfolio of companies comprised mostly of solo or co-founded entrepreneurs?

4. Set up a meeting with these investors right now and be completely transparent where you are.

If you're meeting with an investor who primarily invests in solo founders, let them bring up the topic of a co-founder.

If you're meeting with an investor who primarily invests in companies with co-founders, explain that you're weighing the pros and cons and that you'd like their advice. It's important, though, to make it clear that you don't want to bring on a co-founder for the sake of having one. Rather, you want one that meets the needs of your business.

5. Evaluate the needs of your business. Why is a co-founder critical to the success of your business post-funding? Consultants selling their services on here (including me) can help you out at this stage. You will end up with a needs assessment for your company's management strategy. You might want to move this task up in the process if you're not confident on your ability to be a solo founder post-funding.

6. Ask your target investors if they know anybody who fits the bill. This ask has three main benefits.

First, the best way investors can mitigate risk is by gaining control over key aspects of the operation: allowing them to recommend a co-founder or somebody to help you manage the business gives them more control over the company's destiny.

Second, if you take your prospective investor's recommendations, they label you as "coachable" and you gain their trust. "Coachable" is high on the entrepreneur scorecard for many investors and their trust is invaluable.

Third, they will often recommend somebody in the same space who has successfully managed a venture in the past and can immediately have a positive impact on your business. Research shows that past experience and talent go hand in hand with success.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=909615

In any event, listen to all of the ideas you get from answers to your question here. There are plenty of other viewpoints that fall outside the scope of my answer.

Let me know if you'd like to discuss in more detail. I'm happy to take a call via Clarity.fm and I offer complimentary reviews of business plans for startups in your situation. Feel free to reach out if you'd like some help.

Best of luck,
Sean


I've done a little bit of market research for a client offering a related service in the same space.

One of the fastest ways to scale is to identify existing networks, build relationships with others who align with your mission, and ask them to ask their own contacts to submit reviews. Make the process as frictionless as possible for everyone asking for help.

Aged care services take many forms: live-in care with varying degrees of medical expertise, live-out care, aging in place, respite services, retirement lifestyle condos, nursing homes, independent living communities, and so on. Each type of service takes a different approach to elder care.

Each type also tends to have its own professional association or network. For example, the American Association of Retired Persons frequently hosts seminars across the USA to help retired people adjust to their new lifestyle, including ones on caregiver services. They might be willing to ask their members to help you get started.

Caregivers themselves can ask their clients to leave reviews on your website. The key here is speed and scale: state and provincial networks can be particularly useful here. For instance, the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association maintains a membership of PSWs who can ask their customers leave reviews on your website.

Finally, charities such as the Alzheimer's Society wants to help seniors find the right care for them by offering resources, education, and support. I imagine one of the purposes of your UGC reviews is to likewise help visitors make the right decision. The Alzheimer's Society might see strategic alignment and open up their network if you start cultivating that relationship.

Let me know if you'd like a call to discuss in greater detail. Hopefully this approach helps jump start your website.

Best,
Sean Power


Contact on Clarity

$ 10.00 /min

N/A Rating
Schedule a Call

Send Message

Stats

7

Answers
Calls


Access Startup Experts

Connect with over 20,000 Startup Experts to answer your questions.

Learn More

Copyright © 2020 Startups.com LLC. All rights reserved.