Being adaptable as an entrepreneur

In small business, change is inevitable. One of the advantages of owning a small business, however, is that you are better able to adapt to this change than a large corporation is. Think of the differences between a sports car and a semi truck. As a small business, you have fewer people to clear changes with, and have more flexibility to make those changes quickly.

Be willing to accept change in your small business and adapt accordingly

It’s important to be prepared to accept changes and alterations to the way that you do business, and be ready to adapt to market changes. You may not like having to develop a new product or service, or ditch an existing one, but if that’s the way your market is going, can you afford to be left behind? As an entrepreneur, you should realize from the beginning that where you are is probably not where you’ll end up. Change happens so often and quickly for entrepreneurs, especially during the planning stages as new opportunities and ideas arise. Lack of adaptability can result in unhappy customers, lost profits – and many sleepless nights for the entrepreneur.

How to prepare for small business change

You can’t always predict the changes your small business will need to adapt to, but you can give yourself the best tools to make the best choices.

Firstly, refer to your business plan – or create one if you haven’t yet. A business plan is a formal document that includes a description of the business you want to run, your business goals, and the plan for reaching those goals. It’ll have important information like what your product or service is, a description of your customer, an estimate of how much of your product or service your customers will buy, and an estimate of your yearly expenses. It’ll also outline plans for hiring people, building your product and getting it to market. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those business goals.

Secondly, surround your small business with the best team you can, people who can enhance your skill set. Look for people who know more about marketing, accounting, finance, operations or strategy than you do. These people can be part of your founding team, advisory board, mentor board, or management board. They can also be professional advisors such as accountants or lawyers. Their advice and guidance will be invaluable to you when change looms on the horizon for your small business.


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Thinking like both a business owner and a venture capitalist – and how it affects a pitch

What’s all the fuss about? I said yes, I’d invest. Okay, it’s the first time since I started hearing pitches on BNN’s The Pitch. “What’s so special about Neil Raj’s pitch for AdCommunal?” over 10 of you asked me by email. Let’s work through it.

The business owner perspective

When I appear on the show, I’m wearing two hats – one as a business owner and one as a venture capitalist. From a business owner perspective, I was not sold on AdCommunal’s value proposition for delivering leads. As a business owner, I want sales, not leads. John Varghese (VentureLink Funds) and I sparred in a friendly way over this perspective. Sales contribute to “top line” revenue. Leads might, but there’s no guarantee a lead will become a customer. Want cash flow? Focus on sales, or conversions, as we say in the online business world.

The venture capitalist perspective

From a venture capitalist perspective, I loved AdCommunal’s business model. Here’s what stood out for me:

1.       Neil Raj has credibility – he’s worked in the online adverting world and some of his previous employer companies were sold for multi-millions.

2.       Neil Raj is smart and articulate – he nailed his answers on the show (okay, his answers cut into my airtime, but I’ll forgive him).

3.       Pay-for-performance models of online advertising are taking over traditional “you pay us a fortune, and we may deliver conversions for you” models – so AdCommunal is early stage in the life cycle.

4.       Huge growth potential.

5.       Exit opportunity – AdCommunal could be built for an early and lucrative exit – for Neil and his investors.

6.       AdCommunal is cash flow positive – and has been since day one posting $2.5 million in revenue for 2010.

So I said yes. Easy – subject to due diligence. I did raise a concern over Neil’s team. I want him to build a stronger, better known team with a track record.

Want to attract VC money? Build a business model that speaks to credibility, team, concept, growth and traction. I like saying yes.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Watch the February 2 episode of The Pitch online for free on BNN’s website. Let me know what you think!

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