5 Tips to Maximize Your Time at the Entrepreneur Competition

The Entrepreneur Competition is just 12 days away! We are so excited for Utah’s community of entrepreneurs, successful public figures, and supportive community members to come together for this event. 

This annual competition is overflowing with promising opportunities. Here’s 5 tips from RevRoad’s Chief Business Development Officer, Amy Caldwell, about how to maximize your time at the entrepreneur competition. 

  1. Do your homework — Find out who the judges are. Get to know them. What industries are they in? What are their hobbies? What other companies have they been involved in?
  2. Be approachable — Smile and be friendly! Don’t be shy—you want to put your best foot forward. 
  3. Don’t monopolize their time — The judges have 36 companies to get to on the day of the competition. Use the time you are allotted wisely and respectfully. 
  4. What? Why? How? — Have your what, why, and how ready in a 60 second elevator pitch. 
  5. Thank them — The judges are spending their day with you. Essentially, they are investing their time into you on the day of the competition. Express your gratitude for their time and feedback. 

Apply these 5 tips to get the most out of the entrepreneur competition! See you soon!

Learn more about the entrepreneur competition here.

Learn more about RevRoad here.

Competing in the Entrepreneur Competition? Read RevRoad CMO, A.J. Round’s, 5 tips to WOW the judges here.

Mastering Investor Pitches (pt 3)

Written by: Seth Robinson

Every story has a beginning, middle and end.  Put another way, a premise, a conflict, and a resolution. Point is, even with a compelling story you won’t go very far unless the story is easy to follow. Structure lubricates understanding. The best structure I have found for investor pitches is Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 deck.

10-20-30 deck stands for 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. The ten slides are (1) Title, (2) Problem, (3) Unique Value Proposition, (4) Underlying Magic, (5) Business Model, (6) Go-to-market Plan, (7) Competitors, (8) Team, (9) Projections & Metrics, (10) Status, Accomplishments & Timeline.  

These ten subjects give potential investors a comprehensive view of your company. They cover all the basics investors will need to know before they can consider further engagement. These slides function as the jump off point for additional engagement. The order of these slides isn’t important, and I would highly recommend changing the order to compliment your story.

Twenty minutes means you must be quick and deep. A quick and deep overview is always possible, but not usually easy. Refining your story will take practice, work and feedback from others. For practice, look into your local 1MillionCups groups. Investor pitch feedback is what those groups exist for!

Keep the presentation compelling, not exhaustive. If you do it right, investors will have follow up questions. An absence of questions means an absence of interest. In other words, the story isn’t compelling, or they had trouble following. Investor questions engage potential investors. It draws them into your story. Leave the bulk of your allotted time for their questions. The pitch will hook them; their questions will bring them on board. Do not vary from the 20 minutes! You can keep it to this time.

Thirty point font means don’t use any font less than 30. This is more important than it seems!  Thirty point font forces judicious use of slide space. It helps drive home important points, but keeps you focused on the story. With 30 point font, you can’t just read your slides, because there simply isn’t much text (don’t read slides anyway.  Bad form). Thirty point font complements a quick and deep approach because it doesn’t allow you to be exhaustive. 

Also, investors tend to be older, and they can’t see small font. An unreadable slide is a fast way to lose interest.

The 10-20-30 deck provides the structure that makes your story easy to follow. This has become an industry standard of sorts, and most investors expect this type of presentation. Use this to your advantage. Do not focus on the presentation! Use the presentation to focus on your story. Every slide should be telling the story of your traction, quick and deep, compelling and easy to follow.

Don’t focus on your idea. And don’t lose your story in your story’s structure (or slide deck). A compelling and easy to follow story maximizes investor engagement. Making a case that you are the smartest person in the room is not only problematic and difficult, but even if successful, it won’t have the effect you think it will. Stories do have that effect.

Mastering Investor Pitches (pt 2)

When assessing startups, look at the problem, look at the customer, and look at the market. The combination of those three categories will show you traction. There are many different definitions of traction. Whichever one you use, you’ll be in good shape. For today, we’ll go with: traction–your startup’s evidence of success within the market. 

So let’s talk about what traction looks like in a story: movement. 

Can you move people? Do people care about what you are doing? Do they sign up for more information? Do they gasp and smile once they “get” what you are doing? Do people want to give you money but can’t because you don’t have a product?

The more people you can move, and the more profoundly you can move those people, the more traction you have. This is the evidence investors look for in the context of problem, customer, and market. This is how investors identify opportunities.

Traction is the compelling force behind the story of your venture. In a presentation, the story is how you make traction matter. Here are some real investor stories of companies. Which do you find most compelling? 

“I am not a marketer or sales person, but with the few sales I have achieved, people come back and buy more. One in four customers returns and on average and buys 3x more the second time. Over half of our site’s new visitors come from entering the URL, not from search results or ads. How do they know our URL? People are talking, not searching. The product is sticky. I just need more places to stick it.

“I thought people would use this product because it was convenient.  They tell me they actually buy it to avoid interacting with our competitor!  It turns out our go-to-market strategy allows us to not only avoid 90% of our competitor’s overhead cost, but charge 3x the markup and get 8x more repeat customers.  Help us rescue customers from our competitors!”

“This market doesn’t resist change, it’s simply been skipped over for 30 years.  When we apply basic technology used elsewhere, and apply it to this niche, we see a 100% sales conversion rate even though our price point is 50% higher than their current costs. Without marketing we have more inquiries than we can service.  We don’t need help with sales, we need help with onboarding!”

Each example shows traction. Proof of traction builds investor confidence in the opportunity; the story builds investor confidence in the entrepreneur. Good business models are built on good information, not on good ideas. Investors invest in people, not ideas.

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Improve Their Personal Finances Immediately

Being an Entrepreneur comes with many challenges and hurdles to overcome.

Unfortunately, one of those prevalent challenges deals with your financial health.

Most entrepreneurs either fall behind with personal finances or neglect them entirely. This can put you in a position where you are burdened by financial stress.

The last thing any entrepreneur like yourself needs is just that; more stress.  

While it can be unsettling, it’s the reality. This is what you signed up for.

But just because you’re making daily sacrifices, doesn’t mean that you are not able to make important financial decisions.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. Now is the time to practice and refine good financial habits, and look for ways where you can improve your personal finances so that you don’t feel the financial burden any more than necessary.

Financial fatigue is a real thing that impacts many entrepreneurs, but also something you can improve with some discipline. 

Here are 5 ways you can improve your personal finances immediately.

1. Take control of your spending habits

In the early stages of building your company, it’s critical that you exercise complete control over your spending habits. Not just for your business and company related expenses, but for your own personal finances as well.

One of the biggest pitfalls that keeps entrepreneurs and others alike from achieving their financial goals is the lack of a plan in place for their personal spending and savings habits. The absence of structure and discipline in these two areas can end up leaving you in a difficult financial situation.

The root of the problem for most entrepreneurs comes from not tracking where your money outflows. This can be extremely detrimental to your financial plan and can undermine your  goals.

Chances are that you track your spending when it comes to your company expenses. Don’t neglect this when it comes to your own personal finances.

If you’re not sure exactly how to get control of this one, start with taking a look at your previous expenses and spending habits. Take a look back and review the last  three months of bank statements on everything you’ve purchased (personally) and start writing them down. 

Once you have them written down, start categorizing them by expense types  so you can better understand the nature of your spending. 

Doing this will give you a good indicator and baseline for your first month of budgeting.  Again, it’s important to keep in mind that it won’t be perfect. Most likely your budget will require some adjustments along the way.

Just like any exercise, the more you practice this, the easier it becomes. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where this becomes second nature. 

There’s a good chance that almost immediately you will notice areas where you are spending way too much. Start cutbacks on those expenses first.. Ideally, you will want to find ways where you can eliminate most of your variable expenses (or the ‘wants’) so that you can focus on saving more and increasing your savings rate.

2. Create (and stick to) a financial plan

Would you navigate your current business without any sort of plan, assumptions, or direction in place? Probably not.

That would only increase your chance of risk and failure.

Yet, most entrepreneurs are managing their personal finances completely blind. In fact, it’s more than just entrepreneurs. Most people are navigating their personal finances without having a proper financial plan in place to guide them.

Having a financial plan is necessary to ensure a successful financial outcome. Your plan is there to help guide your financial decisions with confidence so that you are continually working towards your  goals. 

There are a lot of reasons why entrepreneurs don’t currently have a financial plan. Traditionally, financial planning has been reserved for wealthy individuals, which excludes many  entrepreneurs just getting started. Additionally, financial planning has been known to be a time-consuming process, taking hours, days, and even weeks. This incentivizes  entrepreneurs to  choose running their business  over taking the time to build their financial plan.

Savology has good news. Now you don’t have to spend hours building a personal finance plan. 

Savology, which also happens to be a RevRoad portfolio company, provides free financial planning in just five minutes.

As an entrepreneur, having access to free, accurate, and personal financial planning tools is priceless. That’s why you need Savology.  

3. Get an accountability partner 

This one can be a real game changer and the additional motivation you need to help keep you focused and stay the course with your financial planning journey.

An accountability partner is exactly what it sounds like. It’s someone who helps you stay accountable to your financial goals.

Typically, this person ends up being a spouse or significant other. However, it can be any individual that you trust. Which means an accountability partner could end up being a close friend, a relative, or even your co-founder. Remember, trust and reliability is the most important thing with an accountability partner. 

Trust and reliability are important because you need to be able to share information (and likely details) of what you are working and be comfortable asking for their help to get you there.

If this is something that you’re considering, which we highly recommend setting up regular “check-ins”. This will allow you to have regular conversations about money, so that you can help one another stay motivated, focused, and working toward your goals.

4. Create and consistently review financial goals

Just as you would with your business, creating and reviewing personal financial goals is critical to your success.

The reason is simple. Setting goals is one of the best ways to create clarity around your personal finances, so that you understand what you are working towards and how you will get there. 

Remember, when you’re setting goals, don’t just focus on long-term goals. It’s equally important to set both short-term and long-term goals that work together. This is  comparable to setting monthly, quarterly and annual goals for your business.

Your long-term financial goals are there to keep you on track holistically, while your short-term financial goals are there to keep you on track day-to-day.. Both should complement one another and play a vital role in the financial decisions you are making.

Lastly, before you move ahead with any type of goals, it’s in your best interest to make sure that you are setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

5. Diversify your risk by generating new income streams

As an entrepreneur, protecting your income is a financial priority. There’s a good chance that you are not paying yourself market rates, at least not right away, which is why it’s critical that you protect what little income you might be earning.

While it’s important that you are devoting as much of your time and resources to building your company, it’s equally important to make sure that you are not jeopardizing your income and putting yourself in a position where going bankrupt is a possibility.

Because of this, you’ll want to focus on generating new income streams, whether that’s from a side hustle or passive income. This can provide you with earning opportunities that will help you pay your necessary bills, allow you to contribute to your monthly savings, and importantly extend your runway.

By establishing multiple income streams, you’ll be able to diversify and lower your personal financial risk. Ultimately, this gives  you more financial resources to build your business.

The concept of this is similar to creating additional revenue streams within your business. By selling through new channels or introducing new products, you create additional opportunities for sales growth. What you are doing is essentially protecting your business against financial risk. If one sales, or revenue, channel underperforms, your business still has a chance of surviving and thriving because of the established revenue and profitability derived from existing channels. 

Moving beyond financial fatigue 

Financial fatigue is real for the majority of entrepreneurs. But it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be the default option. By using the five tips above, you’ll be well on your way to making steady improvements to your personal finances. 
Importantly, it’s critical to focus on building a personal financial plan, before anything else. In just five minutes you can build a free, personal, and accurate financial plan with Savology. Your plan will show you your current financial trajectory and our strengths and weaknesses. That way you can focus on addressing the areas that need attention right away.  Build your free financial plan today!

6 TikTok Tips for Business

TikTok has quickly become a dominant platform in the world of social media marketing. Gathering user-generated content, cross-pollinating content, and advertising are some of the main reasons why your company may want to utilize TikTok. 

Getting started on a new social platform can be overwhelming, so here are a few tips to help you through the process. 

  1. Be Fun & Vulnerable
    People are on TikTok for a lot of reasons, but the common denominator is to be entertained. If your content is not entertaining or interesting, then it is a waste of time. Be fun, real, and vulnerable.
  1. Keep it Short
    Videos can only be up to 60 seconds on TikTok; however, many gravitate to stay within the 15-second range.
  2. Focus on the Music
    Music is a critical piece of creating shareable, popular content on TikTok. Utilize the trending music and original sounds in your videos.
  3. Maintain Consistency
    When you consistently create content around a specific topic, you generate interest. If users find your content relevant, useful, and interesting, they start following you. Gradually, you start getting more likes, shares, and engagement..
  4. Collaborate
    Every industry has influencers. Find out who they are and make something happen. Reach out to them, duet or react to their videos, and participate in their challenges.
  5. Use Trends & Hashtags
    Check out the “Discover” tab for trends. If you see something relevant that you like, copy it. Make it your own. Expound on the creativity of others. Find trending hashtags that are relevant to your business.

Download your “TikTok Tips” sheet here. Enjoy!

Watch the free TikTok workshop here.