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Resource Side Note

Raising Capital for Your Start Up via Crowdlending

By Cynthia E. Nevels | Senior Editor

In 2014, the Texas State Securities Board approved regulation to allow small private companies the ability to sell shares in their company online. We have heard of reward crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding; but, a couple of new crowdfunding portals have come on the scene designed to help start ups and small ventures raise capital through debt crowdfunding or better known as crowdlending.

We’ve heard of Lending Tree and Lending Club, well in Texas the two new players in the market are looking to change the way people raise seed capital in Texas.NextSeed, a crowdlending portal out of Houston, Texas and Lendoor offers two unique ways small business owners can acquire capital via loans from friends, family and non-accredited investors online.

NextSeed, is a crowdlending platform that makes it easy for you to invest in thriving local businesses that you can see and visit everyday. The model allows business owners to post their campaign online, after thorough vetting and underwriting by NextSeed attorneys, and the crowd can invest in the local business. The business owners repay the debt with revenue earned on a monthly basis based on a pre-determined term and schedule. NextSeed requires issuers to have been in business for one year or more and have proven cash flow.

Lendoor, is a debt crowdfunding platform which enables start ups and new ventures to raise capital via loans from the crowd. Lendoor CEO believes start ups need a viable way to acquire the money they need and crowdlending in Texas presents a perfect opportunity to help many of the state’s growing number of innovative start ups. The platform does not require a credit check for issuers but will conduct a thorough background check of the authorized owners. Investors can rest assured Lendoor will manage the automatic repayment of their loan investment each month and will automatically deposit the funds into the investors escrow account each month.

Crowdlending is not always going to be the cheapest form of capital,” stated Youngro Lee at Texas’ Equity Crowdfunding Town Hall during National Small Business Week in San Antonio, Texas.

However, for some entrepreneurs who have either been denied a small business loan by a local bank or credit union, crowdlending presents a very viable option. Perhaps for some it could be the only option to raise small amounts of capital that could possibly be used to leverage larger sums of money to be used to spur growth and hire new employees.

To learn more about NextSeed you can listen to my latest Disrupt Radio interview with NextSeed co-founder, Abe Chu and truCrowd CEO, Vicent Petrescu on demand here.


 

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Resource Side Note

What Impact Did #Selma Have on Small Business?

By Cynthia E. Nevels | Senior Editor

Cynthia Nevels

Civil Rights Movement and Its Impact on Small Business

As some of us celebrate the day off by volunteering in the community, marching in parades or simply sleeping in I could not help but to think about my businesses, my relationships with my customers and the vast opportunities in front of me. I recently asked myself, “What doors were opened for me and how did I get here?” Each opportunity I had the pleasure of leveraging was due to relationships, regulation changes that allowed access, and merit.

As a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), minority and woman-owned business owner, and daughter of an Air Force veteran I started to wonder what impact #Selma had on me and my business today. I also thought about my conversation with a very successful business woman, who happens to be white, and her inspiring story she shared with me on how the Women’s Business Council Southwest was founded and why. I only mention color because when she shared her story with me I heard such similarity with her struggle as a white female business owner and similar challenges had by black and Hispanic women I knew growing up. She shared with me that 50 years ago women did not always have it easy launching, owning or operating their own businesses nor did they have the same rights to sign contracts, enter into loan agreements or credit agreements without a husband to sign the documents or an authorized male figure. Often women business owners were overlooked for large contracts with major corporations or government agencies and were paid less for the same service (if paid at all.)

Today, with companies like Pinnacle Technical Resources led by Nina Vaca, Bradlink, LLC led by Helen Callier, Good Enough Mother led by René Syler, and Carole’s Daughter which recently sold to L’Oreal and many others those barriers are gone but not completely forgotten. The peaceful sit ins, marches, and get out the vote rallies had a deeper impact on the business community. The fight for equal rights trickled over into the business world and directly impacted economic development in communities plagued with poverty, high unemployment and lack of access to quality education. Today, government agencies are charged with ensuring women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned and businesses owned by disabled persons are ensured equal protections and opportunities to bid on multi-million dollar contracts without bias or prejudice. It does not mean the businesses are instantly awarded lucrative contracts. It simply means qualified vendors have the “opportunity” to pursue the American dream through regulations designed to protect their interests and to create an environment that supports fairness.

Forty-five years ago, the process to bid on government or corporate contracts was historically closed to women and minorities. The right to vote is directly tied to access. When we were able to vote for more progressive leaders we were able to see the legislative changes allow us to own more businesses, to lease downtown office spaces or retail shops in areas outside of our neighborhoods, or to advertise our businesses in print media in certain communities. “Reaching customers was directly related to the struggles the early civil rights pioneers helped to fight for,” says Shirley Lewis, Community Development Corporation advocate and founder of Kids Environmental Education Network, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. Today, what seems like normal everyday business activity and a given right was not what women and minority business owners experienced 50 years ago.

Equal treatment and rights for small businesses did not start to change in this country until the 1970’s. In the 60’s and 70′ getting a business loan for your enterprise was very difficult for women and minorities. Red lining was very real and statistics and research showed a business loan application from a minority business owner in certain neighborhoods was evaluated differently than a loan from another group. This is why the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws exist today and why financial institutions are charged with conducting purposeful outreach in minority communities.

Furthermore, access to high quality schools, community colleges and universities also changed the trajectory for small businesses. Fundamental access to tools and training offered to students to learn a skill, trade or profession to resell those skills, knowledge and expertise had tremendous impact in underserved communities. Further showing why the fight for equal treatment, the right to vote and access to opportunity were so important for America to become the country it is today.

I have been in business for 14 years and I recently was able to experience an increase in revenue and profit only after being awarded a DBE certification and winning several small government contracts. Initially, admittedly, I did not believe certifications were needed nor important. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in a middle class home led me to believe my work and the merits there of should speak for themselves. I did not grow up disadvantaged in any way. However, that was not always the case growing up in the highly competitive business world. The rules, regulations and laws passed to ensure equal consideration and inclusion proved to help get my firm in the door but my firm’s ability to perform kept us there.

As I think about the tremendous growth opportunities that lie ahead, educational tools at our fingertips, and the vast array of alternative funding sources which are available to small businesses I cannot help but wonder what life would have been like without the sacrifices of so many. Those sacrifices helped us all. Research shows supplier diversity creates a platform for innovation to spawn greater enterprises and for that I am thankful.

Click here to learn more about the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program
Learn more about WBENC | Women’s Business Council Southwest
Learn more about Houston Government Procurement Connections

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Resource Side NoteTop 10 Tips You Need to Know about Equity Crowdfunding in Texas

By Cynthia E. Nevels | Senior Editor

Cynthia Nevels

On October 22, 2014, Texas became the 13th state to pass its own intrastate equity crowdfunding rules following states as Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan and Colorado.

Crowdfunding education is important for business owners and investors. This platform for nontraditional financing will not survive if the public is not educated on how the system should and will work. Equity crowdfunding just may be a viable option for most local small businesses and a wealth building tool for investors. However, wealth is not a guarantee when investing in risky businesses and without proper training fraud could rip a hole in the crowdfunding safety net. Game over!

Intrastate crowdfunding is designed to boost the local economy and to help local businesses grow. If managed well, small businesses in diverse communities can work to re-build communities, create jobs and promote the American dream. If you plan to raise capital and sell shares in your company to achieve that dream familiarize yourself with the rules to understand how equity crowdfunding works, call a reputable attorney or attend an upcoming SSB town hall meeting. Keep in mind, one wrong move by an out-of-state investor could send investigators to your door. There are certain intricate and complex details the crowd may need to understand before diving into this space to ensure both sides of the table are playing fairly and the interest of issuers and investors are equally protected.

Top 10 Tips You Need to Know about Equity Crowdfunding in Texas

  1. Equity crowdfunding is not a panacea for insufficient access to capital for small to midsize businesses. There are rules to follow for all parties involved including the issuers, platforms and investors.
    An equity crowdfunding guidebook will be released by Texas’ State Securities Board for investors.
  2. 80% of the funds raised through equity crowdfunding campaigns in Texas must remain within the State of Texas.
  3. As a safe and transparent business practice, 85% of proceeds raised via equity crowdfunding platforms should be dedicated to a pre-disclosed list of expenditures that is shared with investors up front and 15% can generally be allocated to working capital.
  4. Legally registered businesses located in Texas can raise capital by selling shares via online platforms in Texas, these are known as Issuers. However, the natural person(s)/owner(s) of the businesses do not have to reside or live in Texas.
  5. Investors (natural persons accredited and non-accredited) who wish to purchase securities in registered Texas-based businesses through online platforms must reside or have a primary homestead in Texas to invest via an equity crowdfunding platform.
  6. Online equity crowdfunding portals must be registered with the state to legally provide services to registered Texas-based businesses and Texas investors; and portals will be inspected by the Texas State Securities Board on a regular basis to ensure compliance.
  7. Issuers do not have to supply audited financial statements to investors prior to raising capital via online equity crowdfunding platforms in Texas. The principals merely have to provide a self certified Form of Balance Sheets to ensure solvency along with copies of the business’ Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.
  8. The Texas Equity Crowdfunding Regulation states a Texas-based Issuer selling equity in their business online may only use one portal during their campaign. They have one year to raise the capital to meet their goal up to $1 million.
  9. After the equity crowdfunding raise is successfully completed, the Texas equity crowdfunding rules do not stipulate any post raise reporting is required by an Issuer. However, Issuers may be required to meet other corporate laws related to filings and reports but
  10. Investors are not entitled to see financial reports or to receive communication from the Issuer.

These tips are current as of October 22, 2014 and are subject to change. These tips cannot be construed as legal advice and interested parties are encouraged to contact an experienced crowdfunding or securities attorney for assistance.

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Resource Side Note4 Tips for Writing a Successful RFP RESPONSE

By Tiko Reynolds-Hausman | Guest Contributor

Tiko Hausman ReynoldsGovernment agencies all over the country spend billions of dollars with small businesses every year. The process for winning a contract with an agency is not an easy one. There are steps and procedures to follow and policies to memorize. If you miss a step your attempt to win the bid could be derailed.

When a government agency is in the market to purchase goods and services they will beat the street. Agencies, by law, must notify the general public of their intent to buy goods and services. One type of agency alert or call to action is called a request for proposal also known as the RFP. In order to be considered for the opportunity, businesses must respond to the call to action following strict instructions outlined in the RFP.

Submitting a response to a government contract can be time consuming, confusing and challenging. Administratively, the process requires multiple forms to be completed, organizational charts to be submitted and a seemingly endless amount of information to be shared.

There is no one-size fits all RFP. Different agencies require different information and may request different formats or methods for responding. Managing the response is a challenge and most commonly bidders fall prey to a popular mistake that can cause them to be disqualified or omitted from the process. Bidders often fail to thoroughly read the scope contained in the RFP. The scope defines the work activities, deliverables, and timeline a vendor must execute in performance of specified work for a client.

I recently collaborated with a team of procurement professionals and hosted a procurement workshop. This workshop allowed small and midsize businesses to participate in a role play exercise and to demonstrate their ability to respond to a mock request for proposal. The interactive exercise required teams to create a presentation based on a detailed scope of service (scope) contained in the mock RFP.

Thirteen firms were divided into three groups and asked to present an oral response to the scope. The goal of this exercise was to identify key skills required to accurately and precisely respond to an RFP and beat the competition for the award. We wanted to give the business owners an opportunity to work with a team, to analyze the need, to devise a strategy to meet the need and to deliver the goods or services. The teams were judged on their ability demonstrate their capacity and capability to meet the stated need in the scope.

Team 1 delivered a dynamic presentation. They dressed the part and their presentation was full of creativity. They utilized technology in a compelling way to spotlight their proposed solution, however towards the end of the presentation they experienced technical difficulties with the website used to demonstration the solution. The presentation was rated highly for its use of creativity and flare but ultimately the response did not address the need or demonstrate with confidence the company could fulfill the scope.

Team 2’s presentation demonstrated a different outcome. The team’s work appeared to be more aligned with the scope although the presentation contained detrimental tactical flaws, such as insufficient copies of the presentation to provide to the judges. Albeit, falling short on copies may seem small agencies expect business owners to know every aspect of the response will be evaluated and judged from the moment the package arrives. The small things matter to decision-makers. Overall the presentation was well presented, but elements of the scope remained unaddressed.

Team 3’s time had arrived. It was apparent, to our team of judges, the team had read the scope of service and addressed every element within the scope. The team’s presentation was responsive. It was clear the team understood the need and had thoroughly considered the right solution to meet the need based on the details outlined in the scope and background research. The presentation resonated with me and I could hardly contain my enthusiasm for the outcome. I found myself nodding my head in agreement with the presenters throughout the presentation because I realized the team members took the time to understand the need and provide a solution that would integrate well into our environment.

Essentially, team three won the mock competition and the other teams quickly realized all that glitters isn’t gold. To be successful, business owners bidding on government contracts should thoroughly read the scope and design a solution that accurately illustrates your solution that directly aligns with the agency’s need. Show your customer you understand what their challenge is and articulate that knowledge clearly in your response. Be authentic and precise with your response. Fluff is not required.

4 tips for writing winning proposal:
  1. A well written proposal will get primes contractors, project managers, and owners excited about doing business with you.
  2. A well written proposal will contain unique strategies that will stand out from your competition.
  3. A well written proposal will demonstrate a true understanding of the procurement rules and RFP requirements.
  4. A well written proposal will clearly articulate the company’s strategic position and ability to solve the stated business problem.

Tiko Reynolds-Hausman is the Small Business External Relations Officer at Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. Follow Tiko on Twitter and LinkedIn to ask the expert.

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Resource Side NoteThe ABC’s of Crowdfunding Comes to Dallas

On March 18, 2014, Mountain View College kicked off its annual Small Business Lecture Series powered by Wells Fargo Bank. The sold out event hosted guests from innovative small businesses from technology firms, marketing firms, construction companies to nonprofit agencies.

Entrepreneurs were interested in learning more about reward crowdfunding, the new SEC Regulation Crowdfunding, and peer-to-peer lending trends. The expert panel included Brenda Bazan, C0-Founder of Moola-Hoop.com, Cynthia Nevels, Founder of ThinkCrowdFund.com, Mari Montoya, Loan Officer with microlender – PeopleFund, and Maribel De Leon, Dallas SBDC Business Advisor.

Patrica Webb, Executive Dean of Economic and Workforce Development stated, “We are very proud of the lecture series hosted at Mountain View College and believe access to capital is important to helping small businesses grow.”

Wells Fargo Bank sponsors the 4-part lecture series and was on hand to share information with attendees on how to access small business resources that are available to local businesses. divideHorz

Resource Side Note

The Age of Entrepreneurship

In a recent LinkedIn post, Richard Branson (Founder & CEO of Virgin America) declared that 2014 was the I

year of the Entrepreneur and he couldn’t have been more right. Branson stated “This year has seen the growing trend of entrepreneurship being embraced as a positive way to create the jobs of the present and the future…The entrepreneurs who will succeed in 2014 will need to focus upon having a purpose beyond profit for their business.” We are living in the Age of Entrepreneurship, one of advancement, much like the one seen during the industrial revolution; except in this age technology, ease of communication and bringing things from concept to market has opened the door for innovation and the start of new businesses.

So if 2014 is to truly be the year of the Entrepreneur, how can you succeed as an Entrepreneur?

1. Realize that the dream is free, but the determination to see it come to fruition is sold separately. In order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you must realize that the work of an entrepreneur never ceases. There will be countless times that you will be make sacrifices in order to build your business. However, sacrifice and hard work always pays off.

2. Training is key to growth and networking is the doorway to opportunities. It is essential that you seek classes, conferences, workshops or seminars that will keep you informed and on the cutting edge in your industry.

3. You must never forget the business side of owning a business. Most Entrepreneurs and small businesses fail because they forget to take care of the foundation of the business. Knowing the financial bottom lines of your business and remaining organized are tools for success.

4. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is believing in your dream and being passionate about it while sharing that same passion with others.

This year, commit to make 2014 the year of YOU as you embark upon a journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Start this year of with the resources and training to become a successful entrepreneur by receiving the small business and entrepreneurship certification at the Entrepreneurial College at Mountain View College. Please visit the website or call 214-860-8609 for more information.

To read the article by Richard Branson click here

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Resource Side Note

Humanizing Capitalism: WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE FOR FUNDING A SMALL BUSINESS

By Cynthia Nevels  | Post February 4, 2014

The number one problem small businesses have when it comes to growth is deficient access to capital. Acquiring capital for your small business is a process, sometimes, a technical process that can dehumanize the experience for some entrepreneurs.

    Traditional Capital Acquisition

Traditionally, financial institutions will not take into account why you started your business, the social impact your idea may have, or your level of passion (albeit passion is not a safe gauge for risk and potential success.) Bank and credit union underwriters simply want the facts about your credit, capacity and credibility when calculating their risk tolerance.

This traditional lending experience has often left some entrepreneurs out in the cold and unable to acquire the capital needed thus leaving some ideas on the shelf, stagnating growth, limiting the development of new jobs and dampening innovation in some markets.

All that is changing. There is a shift happening based on new technologies, changing federal regulations, and new investment models that offer alternative funding options to entrepreneurs that may have never had access to traditional capital or massive potential investor populations until now.

“New technology is essential to large populations making sense of each other,” states Judd Hollas, CEO of EquityNet. If you have a micro enterprise or startup you may no longer have to go through the, some would call, dehumanizing lending process to obtain the funding you need to see your idea come to life.

    Alternative Financing Options

There are new and not so new funding models and options available to those who are ready to take their business idea to the next level, such as:

  • Equity Crowdfunding – is a method for raising capital and selling shares or ownership in your business using online crowdfunding platforms
  • P2P Lending – peer-to-peer lending is the non-traditional practice of raising capital through loan funds from unrelated peers outside of a traditional financial institution
  • Program Related Investment – investments made by foundations to support social activities that involve potential return of capital within a given timeframe; PRIs can be a combination of funding options such as bank loans, loan guarantees, linked deposits and equity investments in commercial ventures for charitable purposes

Alternative funding sources are growing in popularity due to demand for options; and with new regulations surfacing the supply is stepping up to meet the challenge and reap the financial and social rewards.

    Potential Investors

Recently, experts at the Impact Texas Summit held in Austin, Texas shared new ways private and charitable foundations are helping to fund for-profit social ventures. “If we can help small businesses grow it will create jobs for people and often address many social and environmental challenges some face,” states Randall Kempner, Executive Director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. The need for alternative funding is on the radar of many individual investors. Today, everyone is a potential investor.

Some unaccredited investors are anxious to see how the new Title III regulation of the JOBS Act will help them take advantage of new opportunities.

The market may soon be flooded with dollars searching for the next Amazon.com or the next innovative food chain. IRA Services Trust Company located in San Carlos, CA is preparing to offer accredited investors the option to use self-directed individual retirement accounts (IRA’s) and 401K’s to invest in small businesses tax free using online crowdfunding platforms.

So, the next time you attend a local networking event and exchange business cards you may no longer ask yourself “who does she know,” you may ask, “how much does she have to invest?

At this year’s, Coastal Shows’ Global Crowdfunding Expo held in San Diego, CA some experts shared news that alternative funding options will open new doors for serious innovative business owners looking for ways to share the human side of their business idea while searching for funds to make their dreams a reality, proving their business models work and creating viable ventures that positively impact the local economy.

Research published by Dr. Richard Swart of UC Berkeley shows more than 90 percent of businesses raising $5,000 through crowdfunding turn into viable businesses.

    What’s the secret?

Alternative funding sources, technology, and federal regulation offer windows into the brain trust of stagnate micro enterprises and offer entrepreneurs a way to connect with a large population of like-minded investors on a human level. Unlike most traditional lenders and underwriters, individual investors care more about the human story behind the people, the ideas, and the social good or problems the ideas can solve. Audrey Jacobs VP of Business Development for OurCrowd, a hybrid venture capital firm and crowdfunding platform shared, “One reason we make a decision to invest in an innovative startup is because of the people.”

Never fear, the numbers remain important and regulations are being reviewed to ensure there’s safety in numbers.

Cynthia Nevels is known as “The Go-To Lady” in business management consulting, marketing strategies and technology integration. She is the Senior Editor of Disruptive View and host of Disrupt Radio. Follow her on Twitter @cynthianevels and Facebook @meetcynthianevels.

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Resource Side Note

2014 Top 10 Tech Trends for Small Business

By Cynthia Nevels  | Post December 31, 2013

The search for a competitive edge is on and small businesses are starting to use technology to work smarter, increase productivity and lower costs.

According to a recent 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, a national survey of small businesses with 2 to 99 employees, 98% of small businesses use some form of wireless technologies in their operations.

Small businesses are finding wireless technology can help them stay connected on the go and gives them access to much needed data. Studies show 4G smartphone usage is Up 70% among small businesses. But smartphones are the only trends we see coming for 2014.

Here is our list of the top 10 tech trends for small businesses in 2014:

  1. Responsive mobile app technologies are being designed to enable small businesses to actively engage customers.
  2. Smartphones will come with more built in productivity tools for small business employees.
  3. Digital marketing will increase in 2014 enabling small businesses to connect and inform customers real-time
  4. Tablet use by new businesses will increase giving end-users more freedom to access data held in cloud-based systems. More than two-thirds of small businesses use tablets. Additionally, newer businesses are more likely to use tablets, with 80% of businesses that are less than 2 years old using them.
  5. Accounting software usage will become easier to understand, use and access online helping managers gauge the company’s financial position in real-time
  6. Planning software, such as online calendar systems, are a must. Planning software can be utilized to help you keep your calendar organized on your desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet.
  7. Time tracking software.  A time tracking device will help you determine what tasks result in a profit and what tasks do not. This will help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or improved.
  8. Email management software can help you streamline your multiple emails into one account. As a business owner, you probably use several email accounts to manage the various aspects of your company. Organize your emails and watch your response time increase.
  9. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can help you keep track of your customers, vendors and partners easily. As a business owner, you probably use some sort of tool to manage your customer data whether it is an excel spreadsheet, access database or paper files – you have a system for keeping track of your customers. We see more small businesses choosing to transfer their data to the cloud and to integrate real-time status updates and reporting.
  10. Websites can help you promote and sales your products and services more efficiently while saving you money. More small businesses will increase their use of self-service web design templates to create a presence online to connect with their customers.

The introduction of new tech applications and software will continue to help small businesses work better, smarter, and faster. More small business owners recognize technology saves time, increases productivity and reduces costs. Just be sure to choose the right system for your operation and ask for a free trial to try it out first before investing capital up front.

Cynthia Nevels is known as “The Go-To Lady” in business management consulting, marketing strategies and technology integration. She is the Senior Editor of Disruptive View and host of Disrupt Radio. Follow her on Twitter @cynthianevels and Facebook @meetcynthianevels.

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Resource Side Note7 Tools to Start Your Own Internet Radio Program

By Cynthia Nevels  | Post November 17, 2013

Host, Cynthia NevelsYou can enhance your brand with your own Internet radio show. More and more entrepreneurs are integrating alternative advertising tools into their marketing strategy along with traditional ads, media releases and commercials to promote their brands and companies. Why? Because some 57 million weekly listeners tune in to Internet radio programs every day and the industry generates approximately $500 million in revenue annually.

Internet radio is an audio service transmitted via the Internet. Most service providers are independent and do not have any associations with commercial broadcasters or networks. This fact gives producers and subject matter experts more creative freedom. This can be good and it also can be dangerous if you do not manage your social reputation and edit your content for relevance.

If strategically done right, an online podcast or live radio show can help to build your brand and increase brand visibility.  In July 2009, I launched my own Internet business talk radio program with less than a few dollars investment. I spent more time than money preparing to launch and manage the media and broadcasting arm of my company. When I launched I had one idea in mind. I wanted to create a platform where I could talk to innovative and International change agents in business, technology and economics to understand how they achieved success and obtain tips for others who were interested in changing the game in their own businesses. My listeners are savvy men and women who have great ideas but may not have a mentor or an expensive adviser to help them put the pieces together. My show provides that information to them 24-hours a day, 7-days a week at no charge in any format they prefer whether it is on their web browser, on their smart phone or on their tablet.

The success of the broadcast program relies on what the people or listeners want and providing the content in a format I like to call “edutaining.” That is educational and entertaining to the audience.

In a recent survey it is reported that 19% of U.S. consumers 12 and older listen to Web-based radio stations. For start-ups and small businesses this access to listeners, consumers and partners goes far beyond your zip code or the boundaries a local newspaper or direct mailer may place on your ad dollars. You want your advertising budget to go as far and wide as feasibly possible. All business owners and marketing managers want to get the most out of a $1 investment to yield the highest returns. Internet broadcasting or podcasting offers that solution for some entrepreneurs. However, this model is not designed to fit all. Some content simply doesn’t belong in this space because the audience is not large enough to support it long-term.

There is a formula for producing a highly popular podcast and monetizing the asset. There are numerous YouTube videos and blogs that exist to help you create the winning formula to create a slam dunk product. What is key to remember is the start-up investment to launch your media broadcasting venture is minimal. Here is a list of seven tools you will need to get started. You will probably recognize you already have these in your office or home.

7 Tools to Start Your Own Internet Radio Program

  1. Computer with built in Wi-Fi or Internet access
  2. Headphones to filter or drown out external noises; keep in mind if you purchase BEATS by Dr. Dre you eliminate the need for a mic when you are just getting started
  3. Mic (better quality mic = better sound quality)
  4. Internet (reliability is critical)
  5. Website to manage your own brand
  6. Social Media Channels to use for program promotions; you have to be social to draw an audience
  7. Broadcast Service or podcast creator tools such as blogtalkradio.com

Creating an online program can be a lucrative business from ad sells to speaking engagements. This week, I will deliver a presentation entitled, “How to Build a Brand Using Internet Radio,” at Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence Women Veterans Entrepreneur Corps and Pitch Competition at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano, Texas. Because of my five years in Internet broadcasting I have been able to create valuable relationships with product sellers, marketing executives, PR agencies, nationally recognized and award winning bloggers and CEOs that I would not have been able to cultivate on my own.

I have learned the added revenue stream is important to the bottom line for my business; but what is more important is the fact that you get to create your own platform for sharing ideas, tips and tools to an audience hungry for information that directly helps to fill the gaps the listener has in their professional or personal life. This news is free of influence from external sources and keeps the content pure, in a sense. The listener is free to take you with them anywhere they go and that type of relationship with current or potential customers is – PRICELESS.

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Resource Side NoteCan Microsoft SharePoint and K2 Expand Your BUsiness’ Capabilities?

By Cynthia Nevels  | Post September 29, 2013

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Are you a busy entrepreneur or business manager with lots of work, systems and processes to manage? Like accounting, logistics,  shipping or project management.

Managing that data can be brutal and sometimes crucial to the success or failure of any organization. Here is a scenario that may sound familiar. You are at your desk; you have two trays on your desk filled with work. One tray contains completed work and the second tray contains work to be completed that is filled with questions or problems that need to be solved.  Web applications are platforms or software on the Internet that helps you manage that data, organize it, share it and integrate with other systems to solve the problems more efficiently. At least that is the hope.

Web applications help you take those forms, place them online, answer the questions and share that data with other team members in other offices, cities, states and countries instantly. No longer does work have to sit on your desk in a tray waiting days or months for the answer.

Microsoft SharePoint is a Web application platform developed by Microsoft which was initially designed to help companies manage content, processes and data. K2 builds and runs business applications, which integrates with SharePoint, for some very impressive firms and agencies across the globe. Adriaan van Wyck, CEO of K2, has his own opinion about where web technology and business applications are heading.

When Adriaan and his co-founder, started their first tech company they found a large number of companies were doing things over and over again in ways that were very expensive. They believed they could create technology that could change that and help businesses work more efficiently. Because of innovations in web technology, more small businesses have been able to expand their capabilities to do more with less. Adriaan believes web applications are not created to make us work faster. There is more to apps than meet the eye.

Adriaan states in a recent interview, “Before the year 2000, organizations pretty much operated in isolation, there were very few websites that existed and email was in its infancy. Companies couldn’t communicate or share information easily. The pace of business was much slower and you had much more time to succeed or fail.” Today, because of new web technologies, more companies can share data instantaneously, owners can make informed decisions with the use of mobile applications and information is accessible 24/7. For some, this new “access” world opens up new doors for new companies like Netflix to create their own universe for serving the unforeseen need of customers and that gives them the competitive advantage they need to succeed – quickly.

When selecting an application for your business, follow these steps:

  • Identify the problem within your current processes
  • Select an application that already exists that has minimal development or build time
  • Customize it to fit your environment while carefully analyzing the impact the new system may have on other internal processes
  • Implement and use the application to become very productive very quickly
  • Remember to train the internal team on how to use the application properly
  • Measure the outcomes

divideHorz

disrupt_d

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