What a great way to pitch your business idea, and it is FREE!
Pitching the next great idea to prospective business partners, investors, service providers and fellow entrepreneurs just got easier with Vator.tv—a new venture that combines online video and networking. Based on the proverbial elevator pitch—the notion that you should be able to sum up a new business venture in the few minutes it takes to ride an elevator—Vator.tv is an online marketplace for new ideas. “Anyone, across all industries, at any stage, can share ideas, products, services and businesses with the rest of the world, mainly through video.”
Here’s how it works: users sign up for a free account. They then create pitches for their ideas, projects or businesses in a rich media environment by uploading video, images, PPT or PDF files. They can choose to share their pitches with a personal network or with the entire Vator.tv community.
Many are just starting their business, but you should keep in mind a plan for an exit strategy. The expression, “Begin with the end in mind” is an excellent of thinking about it in case your business is sold or you retire or change careers. From Market Watch, I found this article that outline how to create a small business exit strategy.
John Brown, president and founder of Business Enterprise Institute, says there are five steps business owners must take to formulate their exit plan:
- Determine your objective. “One is timing — how much longer do you want to work in your business before you sell it, give it away or transfer it to your employees? Two is figuring out how much money you’ll need for your financial security.” [Read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4 hour Work Week, to figure exactly how you need to live on.]
- Designate a coordinator. “You need to put an advisory team in place that can help you with the transition. The team could be made up of your lawyer, your CPA, your financial adviser. But you really need to have at least one adviser who knows the planning process, who can bring in other advisers as needed, and who can coordinate everything,” says Brown. [Find someone like a SCORE volunteer who may have also sold their business and learn from them]
- Get your business appraised. Work with a professional business appraiser, or, if your business is very small, a CPA. “Owners usually do not have an idea of what their business is worth,” says Brown. [Customer base, goodwill, and market share should be considered]
- Focus on increasing cash flow. “Most business owners will focus on increasing revenues or opening additional offices, but cash flow is used to determine the value of a business,” says Brown. “If the owner can increase the cash flow by a couple hundred thousand dollars, he can increase the business value by $750,000 to $1 million.” [Begin to pay debt down if you are planning to sell your business. This makes your company more attractive if you have less “debt baggage”]
- Put a management team in place. After you’ve determined who is going to take over your business when you retire, you should have a management team — or, in a small company, just one person — to transition the business to the new owner. “This is critical. Third-party buyers will want someone to carry on the business. The management team should have a relationship with vendors, customers, etc.” [Consider who your successor may be–an trusted employee, family member, or consultant]
“The more time you give yourself to implement a plan and figure out value, the better off you’ll be.”
Here’s another Web 2.0 project management and invoicing application on the block, Cashboard. This is excellent for web designers, architects and other professionals who do estimates and bill hourly. There is a free version and an upgraded version with a monthly fee.
According to the site, Cashboard does the following:
- Create estimates and track your performance.
- Log time for yourself, your employees and subcontractors.
- Never forget to send an invoice or collect payment again.
- Send professional invoices to your clients, along with automatic reminder and thank you emails.
I actually would recommend using this since it integrates with Basecamp. In fact the only problem I have with Cashboard is the name since “cash” connotes that has more to do with cash management, but really the application is more about invoicing and time tracking. Now if a Wesabe-like thing was added on to this, then I would prefer this over the Quickbooks online. Then the only thing lacking would some kind of report writer which could generate profit-loss statements, balance sheets and other reports that Quickbooks can do. So I am hoping that one of these days there will be the perfect Web 2.0 application that can do three essential things:
- Do time-tracking and invoicing effortlessly online.
- Do cash management (upload of banking and credit card transactions
- Do dashboard reporting by creating profit/loss and balance sheet statements, average monthly income and average monthly expenses.
Yay! The New York Times just launched an online small business section with information on how to get started as an entrepreneur, including marketing, finance and management tips.
There are a few new cheap and sometimes FREE accounting and time management tools that are part of the Web 2.0 explosion. You may want to incorporate these to help you manage your business.
Blinksale is great for quick invoicing. I have used it to send invoices to my bookkeeping clients and it faciliates PayPal payments. The only downside is that you can only send three invoices a month for the free version. If you like it, I suggest upgrading to the next level which is only $12/month.
Freshbooks.com offers a similar service but it is not as efficient. More detail for clients has to entered, but they do offer to send in the mail an actual hard copy of the invoice.
MyIntervals is a timetracking application that is great for project management.
Wesabe is more for personal finance but since many of my clients are micro-businesses, it’s a definitely worth a look. I heard that people use Wesabe to see what checks have cleared and what the current balances are for her credit cards.
Banking: Washington Mutual offers free business checking with no balance requirement. Plus, you can sign up for free enrollment into the WaMoola For Schools Program where you can benefit your local school with Debit Mastercard purchases. You can get downloads of your banking account information into Quickbooks.
I met Brian Barrett from Prime Pay, a payroll service. They handle all line items associated with payroll including flexible spending accounts, payroll taxes and 401K deductions. They have account executives who are assigned to their payroll clients so you have a consistent person who you contact for your payroll needs.
I also met someone from CHS Payroll which does payroll including union benefit reports and job and labor costing reports.
Microsoft Office Live offers a free basic website with free domain name registration, email accounts, 500 MB storage, and free site reports.
For website design, you may want to contact 304media.com. I review their portfolio and their
business sites are well done.
From the New York City Business Solutions website:
The New York Business Solutions will conduct the 2nd annual Instant Assessment Bullpen at the NY Xpo for Business on November 29, 2006, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
The Instant Assessment Bullpen will bring together over 20 business experts, from City, State, and Federal agencies, to assist New York’s small businesses by providing on the spot advice, program applications and assistance accessing these programs. Participating businesses will have access to a range of programs and services on business topics including financing, incentives, licensing requirements, business planning and government procurement opportunities.
In addition to the Instant Assessment Bullpen, the NY Xpo for small business will feature 400 exhibitors and conduct over 30 free training sessions on topics including growth strategies, sales, marketing and technology. The event will feature a 5-Borough Chambers of Commerce Business Luncheon with the Honorable Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as the keynote speaker.
The entire event is FREE , but registration is required.