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Six Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Seeking Venture Capital

Six Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Seeking Venture Capital

Pitching venture-capital investors to launch or grow your business is a delicate process, so you need to tread carefully. There’s an art to making a successful pitch, says Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of Box, an online content-sharing company based in Palo Alto, Calif. He has raised $162 million in five rounds of funding and estimates he has pitched investors a few dozen times. “You should have a fully refined, bulletproof story,” Levie says.

Making an effective pitch is more important than ever, as venture capital remains relatively scarce. In 2007, venture-capital firms raised more than $31 billion to invest, according to data from Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association. But they raised only slightly more than $18 billion last year. “Our cottage industry is indeed getting smaller still and that will impact the startup ecosystem over time,” Mark Heesen, president of the association, said in a statement.

To take your best shot with venture capitalists, avoid these six common blunders:

1. Don’t contact every VC in Silicon Valley. Blindly reaching out to VCs with a generalized pitch is not going to improve your chances of getting funded, according to Brian O’Malley of Battery Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif. Not all investors are interested in the same kinds of companies, nor do they all invest the same amount of money or at the same time in a company’s life cycle.

Research the VC you plan to pitch, figuring out the kind of companies it has invested in and at what stage in a company’s growth. This basic, yet useful, information can often be found on the investor’s website. “If people don’t display the most basic sales characteristics, then I worry about their ability to be successful as an entrepreneur,” O’Malley says.

2. Don’t overdo the PowerPoint presentation. Some entrepreneurs create lengthy PowerPoints that leave investors bored and with little time for questions and answers. John Backus, founder and managing partner at New Atlantic Venture Partners in the Washington, D.C., area, recommends a maximum of 15 slides for a one-hour meeting. That number of slides will take up about half the meeting, he says, leaving 30 minutes for questions. Also, make the slides as visual as possible. “We are not going to remember a list of data,” Backus says.

3. Don’t disregard questions that come up. VCs will likely have questions that interrupt your presentation, and you may be tempted to hurry through them to get back to your rehearsed pitch. Instead, always answer questions as completely as possible. After all, if you secure funding with a VC, it’s likely going to be a long-term relationship – and communication is key. “When I invest in your company, we are going to be married for five to seven years,” says Johnathan Ebinger, investment partner of BlueRun Ventures in Menlo Park, Calif. Sometimes “it is like they are playing whack-a-mole with my questions,” he says. “Let’s try to have a conversation.”

4. Don’t exaggerate. While VCs are hunting for the next Google, Facebook or Twitter, they don’t want to hear unrealistic pitches. “There are probably five companies out there in the world that have gotten to $10 billion, $20 billion, $30 billion,” Backus says. “Be realistic and tell me how you are going to win.” One way to make your pitch credible: Identify your potential rivals and explain your competitive strategy. “There is always competition,” Ebinger says. “You have to be open to the fact that the world is going to get by without you.”

5. Don’t try to raise money just for the short term. O’Malley often hears entrepreneurs say they’re trying to raise cash to cover expenses for a period of time, usually 12 to 24 months. But he discourages short-term thinking. Instead, he urges entrepreneurs to raise money to hit milestones, such as reaching 500,000 downloads of your software or application, hiring a vice president of marketing or signing a distribution deal. Also, raising a bit more money than you’ll need is better than too little. “Of my seed investments I have made, half of them wished they had raised more money,” O’Malley says. “None of the others that raised more than they needed ever regretted it.”

6. Don’t rush to disclose what you think your company is worth. You will need to discuss how much money you are seeking, but don’t immediately share what percentage of your company’s value that represents. “I have talked to a lot of my venture friends, and it turns them off when they see the value of the company” declared too soon, says Lori Hoberman, chairwoman of law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s emerging companies/venture capital practice in New York.

Instead of putting your estimated valuation in the presentation, allow it to come up naturally in conversation. The valuation will be “a very hotly negotiated point between you and the investor,” Hoberman says. The issue usually surfaces at the end of the first meeting, she adds, when you discuss what percentage of the company you are selling for the investment.

[Beginner – 104] Improve Your Blog: Tips & Ideas for Creative Writing

[Beginner – 104] Improve Your Blog: Tips & Ideas for Creative Writing

No matter how much work you put into your blog in the marketing, SEO, and other web technicalities, there’s nothing that will make your blog quite as shiny as hands-down-great-content. Those things are all important if you want to attract traffic to your blog, but what keeps readers coming back to your site is mostly dependent in the writing you put out. Even if you think you already write great, just remember the golden rule of writing, ‘writing is rewriting’, and everyone can always improve. So here’s some creative blog writing tips and ideas to help take your writing to the next level.

Study the Craft

No one no matter how talented they are is just born a great writer.  It’s a craft that you work on and all writers know that to get better you have to continuously write, but you can speed up the process by learning from the best. If you’re lacking for inspiration try reading. Read everything you can: work with your favorite writers, work with others who are writing about the same thing as you, magazines, newspapers, etc. This is one of the best ways to develop a taste for what is good, what is bad, and what styles you prefer or wish to emulate. Listening to interviews with writers and about writing are also great for collecting creative writing tips; the ups and downs of writing are often surprisingly similar, though everyone has their own path and method to follow.  All these resources are readily available, whether it’s books, websites, or magazines, so you may as well take advantage of them.

Set Goals & Be Consistent

One of the most helpful ways to get in the habit of writing and being productive with that writing is setting goals and being consistent. Many writers struggle to get going, but you can overcome this struggle by setting achievable goals and creating an environment conducive to writing. Set up a distraction-free space and choose a specific schedule for your writing. Choose one or two hours that you can dedicate to the task.  Maybe it’s 5 am before the kids wake up, or maybe 2 am till 3:30 am for the night owls. The point is same time, same place. Make sure you force yourself to be writing the whole time. Start small if you have to, even ten good minutes is better than hours of musing at a blank page. Repetition will strengthen your habits and help you build momentum in your writing. Essentially this works as an exercise regime, but for your mind.  Before you know it that ten minutes you struggled with will be flowing over into an hour plus of solid writing.  Building a regime like this is one of the best ways to stave off writer’s block.

Just Write

Speaking of writer’s block, the best way to get rid of it is to just write. Often times, when you find yourself lacking for creative writing ideas, just putting something down on the page, is better than nothing.  Doing ten or fifteen minutes of free writing with whatever comes to mind is a wonderful exercise and may even lead to some of the best ideas you have. In this process, it doesn’t matter what you write. Your imagination is free to wander and if it’s all junk at the end of the day, at least it exists and you can make it better.  It’s a way to redefine and take control of writer’s block in a way that stimulates your brain instead of ripping out your hair.

Keep It Simple

Getting caught up in writing complex wording or long-winded sentences can really take the steam out of your content.  Some of the creative writing tips you should take into account to fix this is watching out for wordiness and keeping things simple. The best writing is the most effective writing. This means using the least number of words you can to express an idea. This is why poetry is one of the most difficult types of writing–all the words are stacked with meaning. It’s the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to language usage. Why use three words when you could use two, or why use two when you could use one.  Watching out for wordiness goes hand in hand with this sentiment. Check your writing for redundancies because, upon closer inspection, you may be saying the same thing twice. For instance, new discovery, exact replica, and constant nagging, the adjective doesn’t need to be stated as it is part of the noun’s definition.

Write… then Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite

Have you ever been overtaken by a whirlwind of inspiration, written like a lunatic, and then gone back to read what you’ve written only to throw it in the trash?  Don’t dismiss the idea just because the second time around it looks like garbage. The number one rule of making your creative writing better is never to stop at the first draft. A second rule may be added which is to give it time. When you finish your first draft take a break and let it sit for a while. After a day or two or ten, you’ll come back to the piece of writing with a clearer mind.  When you do come around to reading it you’ll likely find yourself making a large number of improvements.  The second draft will be better, the third one will be even better, and so will the fourth, and so on. By the time you make it to that last draft, there may be very little left of the first draft in there.

Get A Second Opinion

Letting others see your writing may or may not be comfortable for you, but eventually, you have to show your work or it’s really nothing more than a journal entry. Fresh eyes can be a wonderful way to bring on new creative writing ideas. It’s also the only way you’ll ever know if your intention is coming across to a reader.

Stay Passionate

Sometimes coming up with creative blog ideas becomes a chore, but in those times it’s important to remember that you love writing. If you find yourself feeling indifferent about your writing topic, try writing about something else.  If you’re also passionate about fishing, cooking, or Mozart work to bring them into your writing. You shouldn’t have to give up any of your other passions just to write. They can all strengthen each other. As Kathryn Vicello, a professional blogger puts it, “I think that your voice will come through if you write from the heart. Write as though you are speaking to a friend. Be honest and open.”

How you can use Facebook to market your offers.

How you can use Facebook to market your offers.

Offers are free and easy to create.

Facebook offers can help you bring back current customers and attract new ones to your business. Create coupons and discounts directly from your Facebook business Page to let people know about special offers and deals.

Drive sales online or in store.

Choose whether people can redeem your offer online, in store or both.

Extend your reach by promoting your offer.

If you want to increase the reach of your offer, you can boost the offer from your Facebook business Page.

Help people remember to use your offer.

Unlike a regular Facebook Page post, people who save your offer will automatically get reminder notifications before it expires so that they don’t forget to use it.

Make it easy for people to redeem on mobile.

Offers are mobile friendly and optimised for easy redemption, both online and in store. You have the option to include a coupon code.

How can I post messages on Facebook?

How can I post messages on Facebook?

o send a direct message on Facebook on a computer:

  1. From , click  Messenger in the left menu.
  2. Click  to start a new message.
  3. Start typing a name into the To field. Names of friends will appear.
  4. Select the person or people you want to message.
  5. Type your message, then press enter or  to send.

You can also click Message at the top of someone’s profile to message them.

Increase the traffic to my website with Facebook

Increase the traffic to my website with Facebook

While SEOcustom website contentand digital advertising are all effective tools for improving traffic to your practice website, Facebook is a great way to improve traffic. In fact, research by Shareholic found that Facebook drives more website traffic than any other social platform, including Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and LinkedIn. 

More traffic to your practice website doesn’t just mean more opportunities to convert visitors into clients for improved practice profitability. More traffic helps boost your practice website’s ranking in search engines, which improves your online discoverability by pet owners and potential to attract and convert even more clients. At the same time, increased discoverability in search engines leads people to check out your Facebook page, which supports an outwardly expanding cycle for practice growth. 

To get this working for your practice, it’s important to understand the relationship between your Facebook page and your website. 

Your Facebook page is like a barbecue happening on your front lawn and your website is the building where you run your practice. On Facebook, you’re presenting people with the opportunity to get to know you a bit better and figure out whether they like you as people. While some may feel an immediate connection and decide to book an appointment right then and there, most people will feel compelled to learn more about you before deciding whether they’ll make an appointment. Your Facebook page effectively opens the front door of your practice to allow people a chance to peek inside, see what’s there and meet your staff, which leads pet owners closer to deciding, “I like this practice. I trust them to provide optimal care for my pet. I’ll make an appointment.” 

The trick is to make it easy for people at your barbecue to take that peek inside your practice. Here are seven tips to help you prop the door open: 

1. Optimize your Facebook page for website clicks

People can’t click through to your practice website if they can’t find the link. So, put it everywhere that makes sense. A few examples: 

  • Your About tab  
  • Event Pages 
  • Every post that invites people to call or visit 

Don’t forget Facebook Milestones. If you have a Milestone for “Moved to a New Address,” include the link to the page on your website that has directions to your practice. If you have a Milestone for when you began offering a new service, include a link to your Services page. You get the idea. 

You should also consider adding a call-to-action (CTA) button to your profile. As a handy little feature that appears at the top of your Facebook page next to the Like button, the CTA can be linked to the webpage of your choosing. Facebook CTA buttons can also help customers reach you through Messenger, email, or phone, or even book a service or shop for products. To easily add a CTA button to your Facebook page.

2. Consistently post fresh blog content on your website 

Posting links to funny cat videos on YouTube or someone else’s pet health articles is a great way to engage and entertain followers. Yet posting links to someone else’s website obviously drives traffic to their website and not yours. 

By consistently writing and posting fresh blog content on your website and posting links to that content in Facebook posts, you steadily provide your followers with something fresh and interesting, which keeps them coming back for more. Moreover, Google favors websites that frequently post new content, meaning that fresh content helps improve your website’s ranking in search engines. 

3. Optimize your content for sharing

Once you post a new blog, make it simple for people to share that content with others on Facebook. Including social sharing buttons provides one-step simplicity for people to share your content to their own timeline for friends to see (and hopefully click). For more info about Facebook’s sharing functionality.

4. Use big images

Posts with photos get more engagement (including Likes, comments, shares, and clicks) than posts with text alone. Optimal dimensions for images that look good on Facebook is 1200 X 628 pixels. For crisper, cleaner-looking images on Facebook, you can double the pixel dimensions but keep the ratio for an image that’s 150 DPI (dots per inch). Facebook will compress the image for display but nothing will be lost and your image will look crisp. 

5. Craft compelling text

The text you include with your link could win—or lose—the click. You want to describe the content in enough detail to give readers a reason to leave Facebook and click through to your website without sounding spammy. Some best practices: 

  • Remember that people hate clickbait. They may click through to your content, but if they quickly leave your website (or “bounce from your site), that’s bad for both your Facebook reach and your website’s search ranking. 
  • Avoid writing in all-caps (which is the equivalent of shouting). The odd use of all-caps is fine where warranted but having all-caps text in every teaser post is a turnoff and may cost you followers 
  • Use a friendly, conversational tone, and don’t be afraid to use humor. Remember, you’re at a barbecue. Write your Facebook posts the way you’d chat with people at a social gathering. After all, Facebook is a social channel. 
  • Write blog titles that compel people to click through from Facebook. The blog title shows up in the link preview, meaning it becomes part of your post. So, an irresistible title goes a long way to getting the click. 

6. Turn Likers Into Followers 

Just because someone Likes your posts doesn’t mean they’re following your page, which means they may miss posts, and you may miss traffic-building opportunities in the process. To remedy this, simply ask people to follow your page. If they like your posts, there’s little reason why they wouldn’t enjoy an invitation to follow your page. Here’s how to find the information you need: 

  • Go to the bottom of any post. 
  • Hover over where the reactions to a post are listed and you’ll see a pop-up list of names of everyone who’s reacted to a post. 
  • Click on the names and you’ll see a list of everyone who’s reacted to a post. 
  • Anyone who doesn’t already follow your page will have an Invite button next to their name. 
  • Click on any Invite button to invite a person to follow your page. 

That’s it! You’ve just invited more people to your barbecue! 

7. Update Your Website

Driving more traffic from Facebook to your website is all well and good, but what they discover when they arrive can make all the difference in turning a visitor into a client. Websites that look out of date can drive a visitor away, never to return. Attractive, modern-looking websites with optimal functionality compel visitors to remain on your website and explore further, which increases your chances of new business. 

 

Custom-built to rank veterinary practices higher on Google and other search engines, websites help attract more pet owners and convert those pet owners into clients by directly addressing the changing online preferences of pet owners and delivering what they want and expect. 

This includes websites with the kind of clean, attractive designs that LifeLearn is known for. 

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