7 tips for pitching your small business to an investor

tech business

We know that making pitches to potential investors or customers can be nerve-wracking, so here are seven tips to help you get prepared:

  1. Know your numbers. Familiarize yourself with the basics: things like yearly sales (volume and dollar amount), cash flow projection and net worth.
  2. Know your business. You should be able to describe your business model, explain what unique need your small business fills, who your competition is and your marketing and sales plan – to name a few.
  3. Research your potential investor or customer so you can speak accurately to what they’re looking for – and so you know what issues may arise.
  4. Act natural! Pitching your business is certainly something that can feel intimidating. But be professional, friendly and try to relax! Your investors are looking for someone great to work with as well as a great business to invest in.
  5. Practice in front of your business partners, trusted friends or family or even in front of your mirror. This will help you pinpoint strengths or missing pieces, and give you confidence if you need to go “off-script.”
  6. Be concise. You might have five minutes to make a pitch, or you might have 30 seconds. Prepare a few pitches of varying lengths that get the point across and sound compelling.
  7. Put yourself on the other side. If you were being pitched to, what questions would you ask? Make a list of these questions to help you become better prepared.

What materials should you have when pitching your business to investors? Check out our blog post here to find out!

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Getting your small business ready for year-end 2019

small business year end 2019 canada

It might not seem true, but we are nearing the end of the year (and the decade)! While you’re thinking of holidays and preparing for shorter days, you can also get your small business ready for year-end.

Getting your small business ready for year-end in 2019

(Some of these tips assume a December 31 fiscal year-end, but they still apply if you have a different year-end!)

  1. Organize your files files, records and receipts.
  2. Update your payroll records.
  3. Report all 2019 paycheques on T4 slips.
  4. Make sure all tax deductions are in order.
  5. Make any business purchases that would qualify for tax deductions for 2019.
  6. Create a to-do list for the first week of January and make appointments now with key advisors, especially your bookkeeper and accountant.
  7. Remove old contacts and update professional contacts.
  8. Update your personal productivity and technology tools – download updates and templates and make sure your current apps are still working for you. Even more fun – look for new ones! Check out some productivity apps you may find useful.
  9. Keep your important information safe by updating your passwords. Apps like LastPass or even Chrome’s and Safari’s built-in password managers can help.
  10. Check to see if any of your licenses or permits are up for renewal.
  11. Review your business plan. Did you meet your goals? Did you fall short? Take this time to think of new strategies based on what worked and what didn’t – or what changes in the business environment might necessitate a plan update.
  12. Review your small business’ marketing, human resources management, financing, and operations. Can you improve in those areas in 2020?
  13. If you have employees, prepare and give evaluations. Discuss expectations and performance, and listen to any concerns your employees may have.
  14. Plan for holiday time off, whether or not you have employees. If you do have employees, the earlier you get everything organized, the better.
  15. Enjoy the downtime! If your small business gets quieter at the end of the year, give yourself a well-deserved rest. You’ve earned it!

Have questions about any of these tasks? Ask a GoForth Expert. The answer to your question could help other Canadian entrepreneurs who may be wondering the same thing. How charitable of you – perfect for the holiday season!

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10 High-growth business ideas

10 high growth business ideas

Most small businesses start with a great idea, and sometimes that great idea comes from trends in the world around us. Looking at what’s trending in society, our economy, technology, and government regulations, we think businesses in these areas will grow in the next 10 years. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration here!

Nanotechnology

The science around matter and processes that operate at the molecular level is growing rapidly. Scientists and engineers are developing molecular machines. Nanotechnology will open the door to thousands of new products and services that never existed before, so think small!

Autonomous Vehicles

Uber and Lyft are the most popular examples, but more autonomous vehicle and car-sharing companies are expected to step up to the plate in the coming years. They will start businesses to make traveling easy and convenient, and to create apps and geolocation technologies. Car-sharing also appeals to the social and environmental consciousness of many people. This can have a significant effect on companies offering auto insurance and liability coverage, as well as car-sharing drivers.

Machine Learning

Machine learning and AI have the potential to be one of the biggest trends impacting businesses in the near future. Machine learning uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” through pattern recognition. The transportation and medical industries are likely to be first in line for disruption by machine learning and AI.

Blockchain, Bitcoin and Digital Currencies

When Bitcoin broke onto the scene, it garnered a lot of buzz — a digital currency being used to buy all kinds of things. Then the excitement shifted to another aspect of Bitcoin: public online accounting ledgers. Blockchain — the technology used for verifying and recording transactions that are at the heart of Bitcoin — is seen as having the potential to reshape the global financial system and possibly other industries. Companies such as Bunz have adopted their own currencies that can be used to pay for IRL goods and services.

Internet of Things

Tiny sensors, proliferating at astounding rates, are expected to explode in number over the next decade, potentially linking over 50 billion physical entities as costs plummet and networks become more pervasive. What we’re describing may sound like a science fiction movie, but it’s quickly becoming reality. For example, embedded sensors in the furniture of seniors’ homes can alert caregivers to unexpected or no movement.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Billions of dollars invested by companies will lead to a new generation of displays and user interfaces. The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries ranging from consumer retail, to real estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.

Seniors’ Services

Products and services designed specifically around the needs of the elderly will continue to grow — everything from dating services, to cafés designed for seniors, to home health care to services that drive elders to appointments.

3D Printing

3D printing, a process for creating a three dimensional object from a three dimensional digital model by the “printing” of successive layers of material, is forecasted to be a multibillion dollar industry. Manufacturers across a broad spectrum of industries including automotive, aerospace, dental, high tech, and medical products are all actively piloting and using 3D printing technologies today.

Financial Planning

Demand for personal financial planning services is on the rise. Amsterdam’s private bank Insinger de Beaufort provides a unique financial planning service — sending a shoe box by courier to the client’s home on a monthly basis in which the client deposits all of their bills, parking tickets, insurance documents, tax returns — which are taken care of by the bank. The bank pays all of the bills and returns a summary to the client of all of the transactions that were made. Another unique twist is MasterCard’s face card — a product aimed at teens over 13 to put a new twist on allowance. A reloadable card that’s accepted anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Security Companies

In today’s world of cybercrime and identity theft, we feel less secure, both online and offline. People are willing to pay for services to help protect them from identity theft, for home security systems, and for shredding services to foil dumpster divers.

Ready to take the plunge into one of these high-growth industries? Get prepared with our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM training!

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

Small Business Founding Team

From fragrance to farming, here are some of the small business blog posts and articles we’ve enjoyed lately. Do you have any you’d like to share?

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Using the Empathy Map to understand your customers

empathy map
(Click the image to zoom in)

Last week, we talked about the Empathy Map, a fantastic tool that helps you truly understand your customers, so you can more accurately deliver a product or service they’ll love.

This week, we’ll dive a bit further into the Empathy Map.

The empathy map has seven quadrants:

1. Who are we empathizing with?

Briefly define your typical or average customer here. You can give your customer a name, and briefly describe their characteristics like age, income and job as all well as their personalities or social status, their situation, and their role in the situation.

2.What do they need to do?

We are still in the Goal quadrant of the Empathy Map, so what do they need to change to reach their goal? What decisions do they need to make? What will trigger them to be successful, and how can we find out if they’ve succeeded?

3.What do they see?

What do they see in the marketplace? What do they see in their immediate environment? What do they see others saying and doing? What are they watching and reading? All this information is valuable to understanding their external stimuli, how this is affecting them, and how this might impact the decisions they make.

If you have empathy, you can talk to your customers and present them with solutions that will allow them to reach their goals.

4.What do they say?

What have we heard them say? What can we imagine them saying? What are their reactions? What are they talking about with friends, colleagues or family members?

5.What do they do?

What is their actual behaviour? How are they behaving and why? What can we imagine they may do?

6.What do they hear?

What do their friends, colleagues, and others say? What do they hear secondhand?

John Gay, an English poet back in the 1600s, wrote: “Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.”

You can hear all you want, and you may be influenced by what others say, but you are convinced when you get involved. If you need to buy a car, you need to try the car, get involved with it, drive around to make a decision. Companies need to get involved with their customers. But for a customer to get involved with a company, the company needs to design great customer experiences. Empathy is key!

7. What do they think and feel (pains/gains)

What do they fear most? Are they frustrated, anxious, or even worried about their present situation? Identify their pain points. Then, identify their gains, their dreams, and hopes. What do they want? What are their pains and gains?

For more about the Empathy Map and how it can help your small business, check out Class 3 of our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM program!

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