Blog articles

Run for your lives from the SBA (The fox is in charge of the henhouse)

Angel Capital Summit - October 29, 2010 - 4:27pm
BlakemanPic-HeadOnly_bigger.jpg

The SBA constituency is any company with less than 500 employees - 99.7% of all businesses in America. It's no different than calling anyone under 7' tall "short" - a category so broad as to be meaningless. EXCEPT that it allows politicians to say "we help small business", when in fact they are helping mid to large sized businesses and completely ignoring the small ones.

The SBA says the #1 sector for job growth is companies with 1-10 employees and #2 is companies with 11-20. Yet very little they do helps businesses under 20 employees.

Nothing demonstrates how committed the SBA is to big business at the expense of small business then the leadership that politicians makes sure they have in there. Karen Mills, the chief administrator of the SBA grew up in the lap of big business luxury and is the heir to the Tootsie Roll fortune, with no small business experience. Marie Johns, the second in command, also never started, worked for, built or managed a small company in her life. Her last job was as CEO of Verizon's Washington D.C. division, a $21 billion company with 32,000 employees. These are our small business advocates??

Politicians would rightly never put a male of european-american descent in charge of figuring out how to help minority women - it would be an outrage. But filling the SBA with giant corporation fat cats who don't even know what a small business looks like is just standard practice. The henhouse is full of foxes and the government put them there on purpose. Really quite amazing.

In 2009 Australia passed the Fair Trade Act which formally defines "small business" as "under 15 employees". We need such a law, then we need a new SBA that will focus on stopping the big business favoritism that is so unhelpful to small business.

Karen, Marie - are you listening? Probably not - they're too busy meeting with "small " companies with 500 employees.

If you’re a small business, you’re the chicken. Run for your lives from the SBA.

Categories: Blog articles

Why Economic Development Depends on the Small Guy.

Angel Capital Summit - October 25, 2010 - 3:44pm

It happens every time. Giant corporations and giant government get us into giant messes, then they all start staring at small business to get them out of it. How arrogant can you be? “Hey, we made the mess, now you guys clean it up!”

The SBA says the #1 sector for job growth is businesses with 1-10 employees, and the #2 sector is businesses with 1-20. So the Bigs are right to look to the Smalls, but the only time they pay any attention at all is when they need us save their backsides.

Let’s do the math to see just how arrogant big business and big government really are. $1.5 trillion in bailouts, handouts, no and low-interest loans to giant corporations who couldn’t qualify for a credit card, and outright purchase of majority positions by government in businesses that had been irresponsible for decades – all of that was “necessary” or we would have gone to heck in a handbag. So they say.

How much of that $1.5 trillion went to businesses under 20 employees? Exactly $255 million of it in the ARC loan program, which was widely recognized as the most difficult loan to qualify for that the SBA had ever devised. Unlike the big business bailouts and handouts, virtually ALL of it went to extremely healthy small businesses and almost none of it to those that actually needed it.

Now the feds are frustrated with us because they are giving us “tax credits” which don’t do anything for businesses under 20 employees, but do help their bigger business cronies.

Everything they are doing is designed to help big businesses and big politicians. In the past they could pretend to help us by using the words “small business” when passing programs that were actually for larger businesses. This time we’re not buying the ruse.

The ruling class consists of big government, big business, and big unions and they’re all in bed with each other. Small business has no seat at the table. We don’t want one to get handouts like the rest of them. We want one to stop the big three from passing pork back and forth between themselves, all at the ongoing expense to small business.

The economy will grow again when small business grows. Then government and big business will ignore us again until the next time they want us to ride in on a white horse. Do they really think we’re that stupid anymore?

We need a cabinet level person representing businesses under 20 employees, and we need to blow up the SBA and start over (it represents companies up to 500 employees and patronizes the small ones.) Please don’t congratulate politicians for claiming to help small businesses. They don’t even know what one looks like.

Categories: Blog articles

Evidence Based Entrepreneurship, De Constructing Colorado - Englewood

Angel Capital Summit - October 22, 2010 - 12:33pm
Englewood, CO Map Englewood, CO Facts Cherry Hills Village Facts

Englewood at Face Value from our Data Sources

Ratio of Accredited Investors in Englewood is 6.2 compared to 2.2 statewide. There are 793 Investors living in Englewood compared to 128 new businesses in the last 12 months. It seems that there is a good amount of money in the city, of course if the sources are correct. The rest of this blog is dedicated to finding out what that information really means and why it is important to take a closer look.

Facts:

  • Accredited Investors in Englewood = 793
    • 26 are in 80112, which is not in the City of Englewood
    • 444 are in 80111, which is not within the City of Englewood
    • 80113 is actually officially Englewood according to the City of Englewood website
      • 323 Accredited Investors
      • Only 75% of the zip code is within the Englewood city limits and 25% is within Cherry Hills Village
        • According to City-Data.com, Englewood median household income = $42,406 (see the image above)
        • According to City-Data.com, Cherry Hills Village median household income = $207,773 (see the image above)

Based on the fact that Cherry Hills Village is one of the wealthiest neighborhood in the Denver metropolitan area, I would venture to guess that most of the Accredited Investors live there as opposed to Englewood.

Any Public Companies in Englewood, CO?

A very reputable list provider states that there are 9 public companies in Englewood, CO and the interesting thing is that they are all in zip code 80112, which is not one of the zip code in Englewood. How can this be you ask. I am not sure other than the fact that trusting data from a provider without further investigation is not a wise choice. With that being said, there are no public companies within the actual city limits of Englewood.

The map of 80112 that is one of the pictures above shows that the west side border is Holly St. and the map of Englewood shows that the City of Englewood at the east most point is University Blvd. The post office website states that 80112 is Englewood and then when you type a specific address, it adjusts, at least for my address, changes to Centennial. Again without proper due diligence, one might take for face value that they are in Englewood when in fact the city is Centennial or Greenwood Village. Another bit of confusion and a reason to question sources.

Are the Accredited Investors in Englewood?

The data states that there is a lot of money in Englewood and the numbers are not correct from the list source because of the confusing makeup of the area. The number of investors is right; the city names are in question. This is another sign that the postal service is there to deliver mail based on their needs and data companies need to do a better job of validating city names. Do your research or find someone who can do it for you when deciding to open or invest in a business.

It appears that the ratio 6.2 is not very accurate since Centennial, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village, and even a bit of Littleton is included in areas listed as Englewood.

Englewood has at most 40 new businesses within the last 12 months and very few Accredited Investors. It is hard to say exactly how many investors and if I had to give a gut reaction to the number of investors in Englewood is small since 80113 includes Cherry Hills Village and the median household income in Cherry Hills verses Englewood is $207K and $42K respectively.

Who’s confused and might need some more details. Let me know because This type of research is fun for me and informative for you

Next up Fort Collins and the ratio at face value there is 9.0+

Categories: Blog articles

The Media of Economic Development: I Stand Corrected....

Angel Capital Summit - October 15, 2010 - 5:22am

Shortly after I posted the earlier blog by this title yesterday I received 2 email. The first one suggested that there were more egregious examples of 'Good Radio, Bad Info' regarding economic development than what I called out. The reader wrote that:

"The bigger the syndication {distribution} of the talk show, the less likely it is that they'll take local calls and speak to local issues. And shows that screen their callers to insure that the caller doesn't know more than the host, and - heavens forfend - might disagree with the host, are the worst."

So please add 710 AM to this list, as seemingly ALL their talk shows are syndicated.

He then went on to say:

"National talk shows make their living throwing whatever administration is at the wheel under the bus."

5 minutes of listening to one of these folk should be enough to convince you of that.

The other email pointed out www.w3w3.com - 'Colorado's Voice of the Business and Technology Community'. Actually, I've now received 3 email pointing out w3w3. All are right. It's simply the best place in CO to get your EconDev radio news. Indeed, it's all Colorado business and technology all the time - no sports, weather, traffic, etc. Sorry I missed it...

But I also need to give another shout out to Jon Wilkins. His recent post about Golden, CO tells us that:

"Golden has a 7.5 ratio of Accredited Investors to New Businesses in the past 12 Months.
Good ratio when the state is at 2.20, which isn't bad in itself."

Demographics are destiny, and the destiny of entrepreneurs in Golden now looks a little brighter than in most places.

Categories: Blog articles

The Media of Economic Development – or – Good Radio, Bad Info

Angel Capital Summit - October 14, 2010 - 3:22pm

I spent the earlier part of this month driving around Colorado helping ACS Partner orgs and volunteers get things set up and moving. While doing this I listened to the radio a lot. Early on, I hit on a channel – 760 AM – that was talking about economic development, so I called in.

This was an embarrassingly bad experience, and not just for me. The host had an opinion. Doing what I do, I had facts. He wasn’t interested in them. When I tried to share them, he muted me and went off on a rant in support of his agenda. As this was not the first time I’ve had to deal w/ screaming people w/ a different opinion than mine, I decided to try it again w/ a different radio station – 850 AM – and again, and again, and again, with both the left wing talkers and the right.

Same result.

This reminded me of what one of my college English professors once said: “Radio, Television and Newspapers are not educational mediums. They are not informational mediums. They are not entertainment mediums. They are ADVERTISING mediums.” As I'm an old guy, this was pre-Internet, but the same thinking applies.

So regarding the consumption of your media, dear reader, Caveat Emptor!

If you enjoy being lied to just for the sake of getting your dander up enough that you call in and get into an argument with the host, go for it! But know that all you’re really doing is helping the radio station sell advertising by helping the host heat up the audience. And by doing so, you’re also helping to perpetrate another cycle of BS on a public that too often assumes that – because these people are in the media – they’re trying hard, and are even obligated, to tell the truth.

That fantasy died sometime around the birth of Fox News, which is now openly making campaign contributions. Here’s the most complete version of the story that I’ve been able to find so far: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandteleco... And why in hell do I have to go to London to get it?

(Disclosure: I was featured in a Fox Business News story on 10.11. Here it is: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2010/10/11/looking-funding-i...)

As to where you can find good economic development info that you can use to build your Company or make an investment in one, here’s the best show on the web: www.YourEconomy.org, which is sponsored by the Lowe Foundation back in Michigan.

And the best show in Colorado is currently Jon Wilkins, the ACS Marketing Committee Chair. You’ll want to track his blog posts for the next several weeks as he de-constructs Colorado, one city at a time. You can also learn more about Jon here – www.JWConsultingCo.com – or just ping him directly – Jon@JWConsultingCo.com – and ask him to de-construct YOUR market.

Categories: Blog articles

Evidence Based Entrepreneurship: De Constructing Colorado - Golden, The Silver Bullet - Issue 2

Angel Capital Summit - October 13, 2010 - 8:48pm
Zip Code 80403 Zip Code 80401 Golden Vision 2030 Golden

Lets take a closer look at Golden, Colorado. I have included a few maps that show the boundaries of the city of Golden as well as the zip codes that are associated with Golden. This is important because if you plan to start a business within the boundaries of the city map you will be dealing with the City of Golden. For the most part, areas outside the city, inside Jefferson County and not within another city, you deal with the county. Remember this is Colorado so the landscape is beautiful and confusing. The second and third maps are the zip code boundaries of what the post office refers to as Golden. Everything will make less sense soon so don't worry.

Golden has a vision and that is a great when planning the economic future of a city.

When you hit their website it is not hard to find the Vison 2030 logo attached to this post.

The fact that they have the program tells you why it is worth looking at as a place to start a business. The odds are in the favor of the savvy business person when you live in a state ranked 4th in starting a new business and 4th in running a business. Sounds like ease into the market and ease when already established, with the IF factor of course. A good business person in a bad area can make it work and the same is true for the flip side of that coin. That is of course IF you try to have a successful business because we all know that sustainability is the key and running a clean, lean, mean, efficient business is often a good way to survive.

The other reason I found important to Golden is their involvement in Economic Gardening. Take a look at my last post for some information about the Economic Gardening Program.

Golden has a 7.5 ratio of Accredited Investors to New Businesses in the past 12 Months

Good ratio when the state is at 2.2, which isn't bad in itself. Golden looks good, has a nice economic base with a successful brewery and a nice College with a good reputation. The only thing I found to be a little hard to nail down at first and just like all other areas, the post office is not the best place to rely on exact borders and city designations.

This is a portion of the full story that you can find at The JWconsulting blog siteby clicking HERE. There are some pretty pictures and charts that will help you visualize some of the text here. The plan is to take away some guess work, busy work, and also come up with ideas that as an entrepreneur, might not be at the top of your mind. It is good to know what to do and equally as good to know what not to do. There is a lot of real estate in Colorado and we want to be sure you are happy with where you plan to place your stake in the ground.

Categories: Blog articles

A Birth Announcement: A Polite Little Fiction for Your Review

Angel Capital Summit - October 10, 2010 - 2:52pm
Kevin Johansen

Title: A Polite Little Fiction For Your Review…

I wrote the below piece of short fiction several years ago at the request of my friend, Frank G., who at the time was working as an editor. (I found it this weekend while cleaning up my desk. And yes, that’s a critique of my organizational skills. My desk is composting.) The question he asked me to answer with this piece was: “What the Internet Needs…and the Only Thing Big Enough to Supersede the Net as We Know It”. This was also the working title for the draft.

The eventual title became: A Birth Announcement

The blood test is in and paternity as been determined. Knowing the father, he will be a special needs child. By nature arrogant and self centered, we can only hope that the mother will be able to temper his genetic predispositions with love and kindness. And it’s a safe bet that the father will be absent. If past behavior is any predictor of future behavior, that’s guaranteed. This is likely not a bad thing, though. At his worst, the father was a mercenary, strip mining SOB when it came to his relationships with the rest of the world. At his best, he was arrogantly benign, crying for accolades for fixing the problems that he caused.

Whether he will accept his financial responsibilities towards the child is not yet known. With the exception of his peers, everyone thinks he should. But the audience he plays to has a lot of control over him. Expecting him to do the right thing isn’t always realistic or pragmatic. The mother – like most mothers in her condition – must simply plan for the worst and hope for the best.

There are those that think the act of conception that created this child was a rape. Rape is always a question in circumstances such as these. But the mother knows better. She was deeply complicit, as were all the mothers before her. And regardless of the bloodline and the whole of the weight of history, she believes in the innate goodness of her son. Like all mothers, she does what she does out of a belief in life that is so much a part of her that she is barely able to articulate it. She simply acts, and knows. Life must be served. There was no choice to make.

Like the mother of the father, she knows that her son will one day grow to assume the responsibilities of the father. She hopes for a peaceful transition, but knows better. The history of this family is one of patricide; brutish and Oedipal. And as the son and the father have no feeling for each other, the death of the father tends to be a slow, graceless death.

But this time…this time she has reason to think that things might be different. This time there is simply too much information, too much evidence that cannot be denied. People are suffering and in need, and the need for love is now impossible to ignore. In both heart and mind, she knows that the times have finally changed, and she glories in it.

War, poverty, pestilence and pain have always been a part of her past, but they are no longer a certainty for her future. And this is so because there are no longer any vacuum-sealed pockets of fraternal ignorance vectoring out cancers of greed – if only because there are no more vacuums. At this she smiles inwardly. Mothers abhor vacuums.

In the world she and the generations before her have worked so faithfully to create nothing is allowed to exist separate from life. For the first time it is possible for life to touch everything. As her son matures to manhood she knows that there will come a day in which he can no longer deny truth in pursuit of individual gain. And in this new world, it is her solemn hope that her son will also come to understand and fully know the work of his mother, and in the knowing, perhaps come to honor his father as well. Perhaps it will be her son, she muses, who might be the first of his line to become a husband as well.

And so the long chain is broken. For the first time, her interests are not the simple, near sighted interests of the mother of the father and all the mothers before. She will be the first mother to dare to look beyond her son’s horizons and be concerned for the generations to come. In her world, the edges have finally grown together and the parts are becoming aware of the whole. In this wholeness she knows that her son will be well raised, both conscious and conscientious of the world around him.

All the bastard son of eCommerce needs now is a name.
_______________________

Frank liked this, but not enough to include it in any of the publishing efforts he was engaged in without significant edits. Re: those edits, he wanted overt mentions of things like ‘2nd and 3rd wave economics’, which I thought would spoil the tone. For this he chastened me for making “…the reader work too hard”, as “extended metaphors are tough to carry out as a literary device”.

Frank’s right. My apologies if I did.

In closing he added:
“I am more skeptical than ever about the Internet doing even a forth of what you see in/by/around/from it. Similar high-flown statements came with the telegraph, the auto and the airplane. The technologies of autos and cinema and radio continue their wondrous march right through the 1930’s – and 20% unemployment, dust bowls, and riots.

Technology gives new contours to economic and generational cycles, but it does not cancel out either of them. Islamic fundamentalists still hate us, the Chinese still think they can win long term, and the Russians are still the Russians.

But it’s your Promised Land, not my Dark Shadow. So, have at it. Just don’t over-metaphor the reader or leave out the Millennials and the Xers (who will be the ones to try to carry out your vision – and yes, I think they’ll give it their best.)” - FG

I disagreed with him on this issue of cycles.

The Internet does more than just speed things up or enhance a handful of life’s components. Unlike all other previous inventions it has the potential to touch everything we do and impact everything we are – and it is. This makes it transformative. Because of this I’ve never really thought of it as a technology. Granted, there’s a lot of tech supporting it, but it’s never been about technology, nor has its growth been driven by it. Simply put, its growth has been driven by our need to be connected – our need to love and be loved in return.

An understanding of this need makes most everything that’s going to happen on the Internet predictable. Yes, everything’s going to continue to move faster and for less. Why? Because we want to be better connected. The only unknown is the calendar date on which the predictions come true. That’s where the technology comes in.

That’s where we entrepreneurs come in.

So the faster and better we build it, the closer we get to the Promised Land. Let the sins of the fathers no more be visited upon the sons and daughters. Let’s go build.

Categories: Blog articles

Part 4: The 4th Bottom Line - Entrepreneurs Create Markets

Angel Capital Summit - October 10, 2010 - 2:23pm
Kevin Johansen

Part 4: The 4th Bottom Line - Entrepreneurs Create Markets

Yup. It’s true.

And it’s more important than you think, particularly during a recession/depression – and particularly during this nasty ‘jobless recovery’ we’re in.

Specific to jobs, the research is in and it’s conclusive: No startups, no jobs. Subtract the jobs created by new businesses in the last 3 decades and the U.S. economy is flat-lined.

“THE FACTS: Since 1980, nearly all net job creation in the U.S. economy has come from firms less than five years old. In most years, without new and young companies, net job creation for the overall economy would be negative. In 2007, two-thirds of new jobs came from firms one to five years old.”

- From: http://www.kauffman.org/uploadedFiles/jobs-summit_12-3-09.pdf

Translated: Us getting out of this mess we’re in is tied with carbon nano-fibers laced w/ Kevlar™ to how well we foster innovation and take care of our entrepreneurs.

No quick fixes, please, as quick fixes too often involve recruiting another business from another locale to bring their jobs *here* in exchange for tax incentives. Economically, this is a zero sum game – our gain is someone else’s loss. We wouldn’t like it if someone else did it to us, so let’s not do it to someone else.

We need better solutions…

The Angel Capital Summit is your opportunity to suggest some, find others to support and evolve them, and then push towards implementation.

But the simplest one for you personally, fellow traveler, is probably to just start your own business. If enough of us do this, the problem’s solved.

And that’s not political. It’s American. Anyone telling you different isn’t.

Click here to apply to present at the Angel Capital Summit!

Categories: Blog articles

Angel Capital Summit guest blogger Lynn Koves: Why Viral Is Not Necessary

Angel Capital Summit - October 8, 2010 - 10:07am
Lynn Koves, Angel Capital Summit 2010 reporter and social media consultant

Angel Capital Summit guest blogger Lynn Koves: Why Viral Is Not Necessary. Social media experts and gurus across the across the globe tend to throw around a lot of buzz words. They will tell you that your brand needs to be “engaging” and “transparent.” But when it comes to video, one of the most overrated buzzwords is “viral.” While YouTube, the number #2 search engine in the world, gives any joe schmo the chance to earn internet fame, it is not necessary nor practical for the average business to aim for viral.

Video in itself is quite powerful as a marketing and sales tool. Non-verbal communication adds significant value to the equation, as it makes a message much more dynamic and engaging. It allows people to see passion in eye contact, facial expressions, and sets an overall tone for the relationship.

Given that the “About Us” page is often the highest clicked landing page on a website, the idea that people do business with those that they know and trust is supported. Putting a video on your homepage, with no need to scroll down, gives your audience the perfect chance to understand who exactly they are dealing with. Whether it is a “how to” video, or a greeting from the CEO, make sure your message is concise and consistent with your brand. Also, understand that the video is about what they need, not about you. Tell them how you are going to solve their problems, and end with a strong-call to-action. Make the next step clear, and invite them to do whatever you want them to do next.

Creating a YouTube channel with videos proposes a place to brand, and target keywords that are significant to the video and search query. It also brings opportunities to include a core group of tags, a link to your website, and engage in conversation through comments.

The goal is not to downplay the amazing results that can be garnered by a viral video that gains international attention. Going viral can create instant fame, and truly represents social media as the best kind of word of mouth there is. But it is also important to realize that it does not have to be the goal or reason to make a marketing video.

Author Lynn Koves is a volunteer on the ACS Social Media Marketing team. She’s the one of several guest bloggers that you’ll be hearing from as we ramp up to Dec. 6th & 7th. Like all the rest, she’s worth paying attention to, so enjoy her post, comment on it and connect w/ her directly if you can. You can learn more about Lynn by going to her website here - www.LynnKoves.com – or by simply sending an email to Lynn@AngelCapitalSummit.org.

Categories: Blog articles

An Introduction to De Constructing Colorado: The 8 Cities

Angel Capital Summit - October 7, 2010 - 2:28am
Heat Map of 8 Cities

Colorado is a very interesting place to live when it comes to finance, purchasing large ticket items, and knowing where to best start a business. This series of articles is written to educate investors, advisors, and entrepreneurs about the make up of Colorado from an investor stance as well as new business and we will be drilling down into eight cities to clarify or enlighten the audience.
These articles will be statistical in a way that makes sense on a high level and the best thing is there will be pictures. I even put some in this first post because I am always a little disappointed when you read that there is cool stuff ahead and there isn't a sample. Well here goes, the sample is research that brought me to the eight areas. It is not too difficult to use numbers to skew information and my job is to dismantle the information and rebuild it to make sure that decisions can be made based on information with substance.

A source of information complied from public records and Business Journal data states 4,411 New Businesses Opened in Colorado in the Past 12 months. Another source that compiles data from public records, investor questionnaire, seminars, stockholder, and shareholder lists, as well as telemarketing and other proprietary sources states that there are 9,687 Accredited Investors in Colorado. The third-party vendors have been in business providing quality data one for decades and the other for over a century, and they have each built a reputation as a good data provider.
The List

LITTLETON

FORT COLLINS

LAFAYETTE

GOLDEN

BROOMFIELD

LONGMONT

ENGLEWOOD

LOUISVILLE

Click HERE to see the Full Story with Pictures
Categories: Blog articles

Part 3: The 4th Bottom Line - Markets Create Jobs

Angel Capital Summit - September 13, 2010 - 9:11am
Kevin Johansen

Part 3: The 4th Bottom Line - Markets Create Jobs

Isn’t it obvious? We certainly think so…

Nothing moves unless it’s sold. Period. Beyond the occasional Pet Rock™, pretty much everything bought is thought to be useful for some reason by the buyer. That’s why they bought it. If there’s no market for a thing, there’s no way for it to connect to a consumer. So creating markets creates jobs.
Ergo sum: More & better markets results in more jobs.

So taking care of markets and the business ecologies they evolve up from via the creation of good policies and legislation that work to insure a level playing field, stability, rationality and a modicum of predictability is KEY.

But who creates markets?

(May I have a drum roll, please…)

Categories: Blog articles

Part 2 : The 4th Bottom Line - Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Angel Capital Summit - September 2, 2010 - 6:05am
Kevin Johansen

Part 2: The 4th Bottom Line - Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Businesses add jobs for a small set of very specific reasons. (Granted, there are those businesses that do ‘create’ jobs out of thin air, but they generally don’t scale well or are investible, as a couple of the main reasons jobs are ‘created’ out of thin air are nepotism and cronyism. This puts the company into the ‘not interested’ category for investors. ‘Crony’ is a good old word, isn’t it? Wish it was retired…)

Number 1 on this list is because they’ve customers needing to be served.

Good businesses find their customers the old fashioned way: They earn them. And serving existing customers with existing products is fine and good. However, it’s a competitive and global marketplace and doing the same thing over and over again without improving anything generally results in your competition figuring out how to take your customers from you. Preventing that is part of building a successful and durable business – a big part of which is the ability and willingness to innovate, as innovation + market research + hard work = new sales to new customers – AKA ‘growth’.

So innovation is the key.

We’re good at that here in the U.S. of A. – still WAY better than anyone else in the world. But there are a lot of things working against our ability to innovate, research, build and sell. With your help the ACS volunteers hope to put that list together, prioritize it, identify potential solution sets and from there find ways to implement them. Call this soil prep. Everything grows better in the spring if you take care of business in the fall…

Categories: Blog articles

Part 1: The 4th Bottom Line - Our Responsibility to Our Business Ecology

Angel Capital Summit - August 27, 2010 - 9:34am
Kevin Johansen

Part 1: The 4th Bottom Line - Our Responsibility to Our Business Ecology

Fellow Travelers,

Using as clear and simple a voice as I can I’ll try to explain one of the taglines for this year’s Angel Capital Summit…

The tag line goes thus:

Governments Don’t Create Jobs
Businesses Don’t Create Jobs
Markets Create Jobs
Entrepreneurs Create Markets

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series. This part talks about the phrase ‘Governments Don’t Create Jobs’. They don’t. What they do create, however, are policies and legislation. Some of these help entrepreneurs, some don’t - and some hurt. The ones that hurt the most are those that bias the system in favor of a single company or industry, as they institutionalize unfairness.

All we really need and want is a level playing field and stability in 3-5 year windows.

The need for a level playing field is obvious. If the game’s not fair fewer people will play. (And right now we need EVERYONE on the field…) Stability is important for projections, which we generally do in 3-5 year windows. If we can’t amortize it or clearly see the potential ROI or IRR in a 3-5 year window, we’re less likely to risk it. (And right now we need to make a LOT of well informed risks…)

Taxes?

We generally don’t care much about them unless they’re unfair. Otherwise, they’re just a cost of doing business – something that we budget and plan for. Noting that what’s happening today with individual income taxes is considerably LESS than what was happening 20, 30 & 50 years ago – i.e., “the good old days” – like our parents and grandparents before us we’ll survive whatever FAIR taxes that get thrown at us, and be happy to pay them as we all know we – and our employees, partners, vendors and customers - need good schools and roads and the other kinds of infrastructure and security governments help provide.

So here’s what we’re asking you as our freely elected public servants to do with policy and legislation:

Keep it simple. The less we have to pay experts to help us understand things, the more we can invest in our own businesses. Less fine print. No loop holes. In plain language. You know this as it’s what you want yourself as a citizen and a tax payer.

Keep it fair. There are a LOT of us out here, but we’re distributed widely and thus not very well organized - which means that you don’t hear from us in a single voice all that often. This means that to be fair you sometimes you have to seek out our opinions and listen to them. As in now, please. Besides the fact that this is what we elected you to do, we’ve collectively a real opportunity to learn something new here, and to make a difference.

Keep it reasonable. That’s all we ask. Tax breaks for the rich? Not interested - even when we become rich ourselves. We want no special privileges - nor do we want any others to have them at our expense or at the expense of our communities. (It’s arguable that special privileges are what got us here, and we’re not enjoying the visit.)

And no offense to accountants and attorneys, i.e., the folks that help us figure all this stuff out and stay between the lines. We all need them. But they don’t BUILD anything, and in our world you either build it or you sell it. Everything else is overhead.

So again, please keep it simple, fair and reasonable…

Next: Part 2 – Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Categories: Blog articles

Unemployment Is A Disease. We’re The Cure.

Angel Capital Summit - August 24, 2010 - 5:53am

Unemployment Is A Disease. We’re The Cure.

Fellow Travelers,
I caught this short - compelling and unnerving - video about unemployment on YouTube the other day:

It reminded me of too many slow motion videos I’ve seen that had something decomposing in them. It’s cancerous. Gangrenous. Necrotic. Ugly.

The solution?

Amputation, maybe. Maybe we should let those businesses that are ‘too big to fail’ do so, and see what springs up from the ashes.

Antibiotics for sure. TARP funds help, particularly those being applied to improving the infrastructure. But these are band-aids. They treat the symptom, not the cause. Better policies and legislation in support of entrepreneurship would help more.

Stopping the bleeding & the spread, however, should be our first priority. Industry by industry we’re absent policies designed to protect and nurture the job creation that comes with entrepreneurship. In some industries – like manufacturing – we’ve no national policies whatsoever. However we DO have GATT, WTO, NAFTA and lots of other acronym organizations out there that we, as small business owners and entrepreneurs, generally don’t have much of a voice in or benefit from.
But it’s US that are paying for them, nonetheless...

We protect owners & managers of large businesses, but not employees or the self employed. That’s insane. It’s like protecting teachers and administrators and not the kids. It’s like putting bug spray & fertilizer on your plants in the summer but not doing soil prep in the fall. It’s like…

It’s time to fix this. The cure’s likely going to hurt. Most do. But we did this to ourselves. If the cure didn’t hurt we’ll likely do it again.

Embrace transparency. Level the playing field. Encourage engagement.
The best games are always fair ones - and thus games that more of us will play.

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

Part 2: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Angel Capital Summit - August 22, 2010 - 6:22pm
Kevin Johansen

Part 2: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Fellow Travelers,

Getting the right mentors involved with your business is always a challenge. Like dating (Remember dating?), it’s something of a numbers game. Pick your metaphor- kissing frogs, turning over rocks, waiting for Godot, etc.

The bottom line is that it’s not easy.

So we’re making it easier. The Business Profiling process on the ACS is a checklist driven process. (Entrepreneurship is COMPLICATED. Checklists are a way to manage complexity. Pilots use checklists. Doctors use checklists. Now you can, too.) A blank checkmark means that you need help.

When a mentor in your ACS Partner group clicks on your file to open it they’re asked to see blank check marks as targets to hit. From there, they can make comments on your Business Profile for you to read, ping you via email w/ their thoughts, connect w/ other mentors in your ACS Partner group to discuss your Business Profile and then communicate their collective thoughts to you - or simply pick up the phone and call you.

So the question then is: Are you talking w/ the right mentor?

More is better: This particular kind of ‘numbers game’ means that an ACS Partner with a large number of mentors is more likely to help you generate a good ‘mentor match’ than one with fewer. So if your group isn’t large enough, grow it! Invite more mentors – as many as you need or want. We’ve plenty of room.

(On a side note, this ‘numbers game’ has created an interesting dynamic between some of the ACS Partners. As most of the ACS mentors have businesses, and as most of these businesses are looking for clients, being a mentor is sometimes good for business. So what’s been happening is that some of the ACS Partners are offering their mentors to other ACS Partner groups. We had about 400 volunteers helping to mentor the entrepreneurs last year. We’ll likely have more this year. Need some? Let me know and I’ll get you connected.)

More soon…

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

Part 1: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Angel Capital Summit - August 20, 2010 - 8:37am
Kevin Johansen

Part 1: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Fellow Travelers,

This ACS process is pretty simple, really. It mirrors how entrepreneurs build their businesses offline, so we brought it online to speed it up. We’ve also improved it in a number of ways via the use of Web 2.0 & 3.0 thinking & tools and the healthy use of social media.

What you’re used to: If you’ve ever applied to present at an angel investor fair in the past, it’s likely because you received a ‘Call for Business Plans’ via email. This invitation asked you to send your BPlan to someone in the organization hosting the event by a specific date. This got you busy.

The date was generally 2-4 months in the future. You had that much time to build and/or fine tune your business plan. During this period you sought as much advice as you could get and used it as best you could. During this period you also got progressively more nervous as the submission date approached. If you’re like most of us you likely waited until the last minute – 11:59 PM – to hit the ‘Send’ button on your hopes and dreams.

From there, you waited…

A couple of weeks later you likely got one of two emails: ‘Thanks for applying, but you weren’t selected…’ – or - ‘We’d like you to come in for an audition’
If you auditioned, your Company was likely one of 2X to 4X the number of presentation slots available. If you presented well, you moved forward. If you didn’t, you didn’t. And if you didn’t, you may or may not have been told why.

What the ACS does: Instead of a BPlan you’re asked to build a ‘Business Profile’. This is a learning process in itself, as to complete it you’re required to think of your business as an investor will. Historically, about 20% of you haven’t been able to do that. This means that you’re not ready to talk w/ investors. This is good, as it keeps you from embarrassing yourself and burning contacts.

You’re also asked to take the ‘Benchmark Survey’. The resulting ‘Benchmark Report’ shows you where you’re at compared to your successful peers. Really. The Executive Summary is graphic. You’re either in the green or in the red – you’re either on the success path, or off it. And all of this is FREE.

From there, the mentoring begins.

The Business Profiling process is checklist driven. A completed Business Profile generates a ‘completeness rating’ from 0 to 100. This rating is generated by the checklist.

A blank check box is a signal that you need help - it’s also a target for an advisor to hit. The job of ACS Partner group you’re working with is to spot these learning opportunities and then help you connect to the right advisor at the right time for the right reasons.

Sexy, huh?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

10,000 Investors to the Angel Capital Summit

Angel Capital Summit - August 19, 2010 - 4:45am
Kevin Johansen

10,000 Investors to the Angel Capital Summit - It's our goal to invite them.

Fellow Travelers,

So far, we’ve contact information for just over 9,300 accredited investors here in Colorado. We’ll be sending them an invitation to the ACS in September. If they’re interested, we’ll also invite them up onto the ACS Executive Committee and ask them to help us pick the ACS Finalists. But our primary goal is to get them connected with the ACS Partners in their neighborhood.

Here’s the list of ACS Partners so far.

Want to help with this?

Trying to get a new angel network started?

Have investors you’d like to connect with us?

Want more investors for your ACS Partner group?

Want to become an ACS Partner?

Let me know…

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles
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