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7 Secrets to Structure Your Business for Freedom

Most solo entrepreneurs have at least some piece of the “why” they are in business that includes having more freedom to be where they want when they want. While each business owner will have a different version of what that looks like, there are some general guidelines that apply to everyone.

1. Build for where you are going from the start.

Often people want to wait until they can afford systems and people to support them in their business. The truth is, you likely won’t make the money to afford it if you approach your business with this attitude. Start to create the systems and structures now that you know you’ll need when the clients come in. This assures that you’ll be ready for them, and that is highly attractive. I began paying an assistant before I ever paid myself. This may seem crazy, but it worked.

2. Know your Intuitive Genius (and what is not).

I was shocked to recognize all of the roles I needed to play in my business when I first started. No one is good at everything required to run a business. Hopefully you are good at a few of them though, or are willing to learn. That said, when you are clear about what you are great at, what you do with greatest ease, that which you can get paid the most for, it is much easier to release and ‘outsource’ or simplify the things that you are not. Formatting newsletters completely drains my energy. If I could be out meeting a new client, while someone who is great at the techie stuff is formatting my newsletter, wouldn’t that be a great use of my time and money? YES.

3. Use technology whenever possible.

There are many no cost services that are available to help you run your business, and many that cost significant money each month. Get the technology you need to make things happen. Each month I pay for Infusionsoft, Instant Teleseminar, Fax.com, and several others. But when I need to put something on autopilot because my mom comes to town, I have the systems to do it with ease. Do not try to keep track of all of your contacts on your laptop, please! Having a system for communicating will pay off!

4. Be clear about, value and attract great people.

You absolutely want to be careful about who you bring into your business. That said, you must bring people into your business to grow and create freedom for yourself. Be clear about the type of person you need and what you need them to do. DO NOT look for someone like you – you want them to enjoy the things you don’t enjoy, right? This could be a whole course, (in fact, I took one!), but please value the unique gifts your VA or OBM brings to your business, and you will attract people with the perfect gifts to give. I attracted a couple of “wrong” fits before I got the “right” one.

5. Take full responsibility.

When you bring help into your business, you want to take the attitude that you are 100% responsible for all that happens in your business. That doesn’t mean that you don’t ask for what you need. And it certainly doesn’t mean you micromanage the work (again, a whole course could be taught about this). It does mean that if you attract someone who is not doing what you want, or has an attitude you don’t like, you recognize that YOU attracted that person, and something in who you are being or what you are doing has created that result. Ask yourself “why am I creating this experience?” and see how you answer. There is always something to learn. Then recognize that mistakes happen, congratulate yourself for being willing to fail, and start again.

6. Make time to plan the work.

You cannot systematize or outsource something you haven’t planned. I recently wrote an article about planning out your calendar and making time for all of the activities in your work, that you may want to review so you can schedule the time you need. I spent the first year in my business planning by the skin of my nose. (In truth, it still happens sometimes). But knowing what you need to do tomorrow and next week is the only way you can put systems in place to get it done!

7. Write it down so you can rinse and repeat.

Written systems allow you to easily communicate to others what needs to be done. This is obvious. What I see for myself and my clients – writing it down also helps you to remind yourself of exactly what you did so you don’t have to think it through time and time again. Checklists are your friends.

Now, go out and systematize, hire, and outsource! But don’t forget the most important part: Take advantage of what you’ve created! Schedule a vacation now to make all that work worthwhile in advance!

Angel Investors, Venture Capital Firms, and Small Business Investment Companies

Large scale businesses may be better of working with a private equity firm. Debt capital has principal payments that are required on a monthly basis, whereas equity financing does not have these strings attached. In some instances, you may be able to sell preferred shares of your company is going to give up a controlling interest in your business. Venture capital is only reserved for large scale businesses. Individual investors are typically risk-averse people. Every business has specific risks that they need to deal with.

You will be in a much better position to negotiate an appropriate equity position if you are already in operation. Private funding sources typically invest $250,000 to $1,000,000 in each project. Angel investors may provide both equity and debt financing. If you are having issues developing your business plan then you may want to work with a certified public account. You generally cannot advertise your company to the general public. The SBA has equity programs available for you.

More and more women are becoming angel investors, and if you are a female owned business then it may be in your best interest to work with this type of investor. Equity investments do have their advantages as it relates to having access to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about your business.

Angel investors do not usually provide loans, and they only do so under extreme circumstances. It should also be noted that private funding sources want to work with businesses that are within one hour of their home. Within a business plan that you write, you should always take a five year view of the business, and how you can provide an appropriate return to any investor that you work with.

Proforma financials are imperative to showcase to your angel investors. The return on assets is an extremely important part of a well written business plan. Your CPA should calculate your proforma financials as it relates to putting together documentation for private capital sources. If you are seeking alternatives to angel investors then you may want to look to work with the SBIC. There are many drawbacks to working with SBIC is when you are seeking investment capital for your business. Regular payments to an investment can be a yes or no factor when you are working with this type of professional investment firm.

In conclusion, you should be well aware of all of the issues that come from working with an angel investor, private funding source, venture capital firm, or private equity firm. Your attorney or CPA can assist you in making an appropriate determination in regards to these matters.

Business Planning and Finding Investors

In your business plan, you should always provide a complete breakdown of the funds that you’d need and how it will be used as it relates to your business. Accounts Receivable financing is a very good alternative to angel investment you have a number of clients that owe you money on an ongoing basis to consider when drafting your business plan. A demographic analysis is extremely important when you are presenting to an investment group. From time to time, all businesses require equity capital. Their many benefits to working with venture capital firms, and this should be thought about as you progress through your business documentation process. The experience of angel investors and venture capital firm managers can be more valuable than their capital.

If you are already involved in the field that you’re working within, you may want to seek other professionals in your area that can become a potential investor in your business. Sometimes, it may be in your best interest to raise capital from a competitor that wants to enter your market and share in the profits. In your business plan, you should showcase how you intend to operate the business on a day-to-day basis via a number of different procedures and protocols. Friends and family, when you’re seeking funding, can create problems as it relates to your personal relationship with these people. For deals that involve less than $5 million, most investment banks do not want to be involved with this type of business dealing.

A CPA can help put together a ROI statement on your behalf as it relates to an equity capital injection. Prior to developing your business plan, you should have an extensive understanding of accounting. More and more angel investors are investing in hard money mortgages due to the fact that there is an immediate upfront fee paid to them for providing capital. Small business finance is complicated. Commonly, private placement memorandums have a subscription agreement that allows these individuals to place money with your business.

In many instances, entrepreneurs are seeking capital because they want to be able to expand their business. Venture capitalists demand competitive rates of return and exit opportunities. Private placement memorandum, although expensive, greatly simplifies the capital raising process. One of the things that you must determine early in the capital raising process are the terms that you are willing to live with as it pertains to receiving an equity injection. The next important step to analyze is the market in which you are entering or seeking to enter with your expanding business. If you are seeking to purchase real estate, you may want to work with a hard money lender that can provide the capital that you need if you do not qualify for traditional mortgage. 

In closing, your well written business plan may be the make or break aspect of your ability to finding angel investors. As such, you should take a tremendous amount of time when putting together this documentation.