Learn To Be

How to Build a Perfect Pitch-Deck

When you see about 20 pitch decks a week over 15 years, you see A LOT of repeat mistakes. Many argue that there are different ways to create a pitch deck. This, however, is only half true. There is actually only one right way of building a pitch deck. Think about building a house. Every house needs a foundation, frame, walls, windows, paint, etc. A house can have its unique design and characteristics, but without the proper structure it can collapse. This too applies to your pitch deck. It’s all about the Story. Entrepreneurs often are confused by the term “Story”.  A story is not adding meaningless details, jokes or anecdotes.   Stories captivate, inspire and influence the audience you are pitching to. If done right it will get you closer to getting the deal you are hoping for.  For maximum impact, here are the slides you must have in your pitch deck.

The Introductory Slide:

Captivate your audience by introducing your company, explaining what you do and why you do it!

The Need:

The need is caused by the problem you are aiming to solve with your product. Essentially, the problem is the villain of your story. As seen in any superhero movie, the villain is a very complex and multifaceted character. The same goes for the problem you have identified. Here is where you, the entrepreneur, explain the gap/problem/challenge that must be solved. This is best told in a story. You can choose to tell your own story, that of a friend, family member, or the user persona. You can even frame your presentation in a way that permits for a story telling technique. Include a clear and concise problem statement.

The External Environment and Market Potential:

This slide is crucial for your deck. Basically, it explains, why you and why now. Going into detail about the external environment and market potential also includes some number crunching. The TAM (Total Addressable Markets), SAM (Segmented Addressable Markets) and SOM (Share of Market) will give an indication of the market size. Don’t forget to address the values of the markets, what was spent on similar solutions in previous years, etc.  Additionally, go over market trends among users that show a shift in behaviour. What is essential to highlight is that you’re working within a growing and profitable market!

Competitive analysis:

The goal here is to showcase your understanding of the market and its competitors. In order to do this in the best light you must highlight how you differentiate yourself from the competition. Visually, you can do so by preparing a quadrant or petal-diagram showing how you measure up to your competitors, listing them by name. More specifically, explain why you are better, what you understand that they don’t, what makes your product better, and what is your unfair advantage against them. Your differentiation statement will be the highlight.

The Solution:

Your solution is the “hero” of your story. For every quality your villain possesses, your hero embodies a counterpart. Not only does a hero come save the day, but it has also earned the trust and respect of a loyal group of people that rely on the hero. Describe how you are solving the issue with a simple solution sentence. A solution sentence should be formulated as such: we’re doing X (solving a problem), for Y (for a specific audience) by Z (what are you? A Platform/app/solution/tool, etc.). Don’t forget to mention your secret ingredient that is allowing you to do this. When showcasing your demo make sure to clearly portray the user experience, all relevant features, and what makes it beneficial to specific users. But remember, keep it simple!

The Business Model:

When presenting your business model the purpose is to describe your main revenue model (ex. Subscription, ads, affiliate, revenue share, etc.) Additional revenue streams should be mentioned as well. Describe the milestones you’ve reached in funding, product, users, revenue, growth, endorsements, partnerships, etc. If you haven’t reached any major milestones yet, that too is okay. Make sure to give a truthful depiction of where you are at, and use some metrics to help illustrate this.

Go-to-Market Plan:

You must showcase the strategies that will allow you to penetrate the market and gain users. More specifically, if you are a dealing with different consumer groups you must indicate the different channels you plan to use to acquire each customer. Specify the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for all. Even though you might not have money at the start, you may have plans of putting together a sales team, establish strategic partnerships, distribution channels, content market and social campaigns. Makes sure to vocalize all of these elements.

Moving forward:

Here is where you get to the aftermath, hoping your hero is triumphant. You present a short-term and long-term plan for your business moving forward. Any exciting additional features or products in that you intend to explore? Plan on using new revenue streams? This is where you showcase the bigger vision you have for your business! Don’t forget to present your KPIs.

Roadmap and Round Objectives:

When going over your funding requirements, list the main allocations such as R&D, Sales and Marketing, Team Expansion, etc. Your “round objective” should indicate where you wish to be when you get to the next round of funding (for example: this will take us X months and X users/revenue/downloads, to breakeven and have positive cash flow).

The Team:

The Conclusion:

 

Whether your presentation has many, or very little slides is not of importance. Some superhero get one movie, while others get numerous sequels. This does not make one better than the other. What is important is that you have communicated your ideas simply and efficiently. Utilizing storytelling, while also using the essential founding elements for a pitch deck is the only way of getting the investor interested.

 

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Top 5 Legal Advice for Startups

legal. advice startupsStarting your own business is an overwhelming process. In addition to all tasks you must accomplish in building your product or service, there are certain legal concepts you must understand. This will help you make the best decisions for your start-up. What may seem minor at the moment can have a large impact on your business in the future. Here is our list of the most important legal concepts entrepreneurs need to understand.

1. Why incorporation is necessary:

Incorporating your business has countless advantages. For one, it limits your personal liabilities. Limited liability means that a shareholder is not liable for the debts incurred by the company. To add, when your company is incorporated, shareholders usually only have rights against the corporation itself and not its owner. Of course, unless fraud is committed. Incorporating comes with advantages tax-wise as well. This includes lower income tax rates. It is also important for you to understand the difference between federal and provincial incorporation. One is not necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the nature of your business and the vision you have for it. The main difference between both is that federal incorporation will allow for you to do business across the country under a same business name, even if some other company is already using a similar name in a given province or territory. However, you are only able to operate from a given jurisdiction if you have incorporated provincially. So incorporating in Quebec, for instance, doesn’t mean you can’t do business nationally. It just means that you are required to operate your business from Quebec.

2. Why a shareholders agreement is needed:

While everything can go as planned at the early stages of business development, this may not always be the case. You and your business partner may disagree on issues like how to grow your business, what to do when unable to make a unanimous decision, or what would happen in a time of death or injury. A shareholders agreement is way to minimize potential business disputes between owners by clarifying how decisions are to be made. It also sets the stage for the procedure during a dispute resolution. Because it portrays a sense of stability, having a shareholders agreement also assists with funding from investors and potential business partners.

3. Why trademarks are important:

Protecting your business name and logo is crucial. If you don’t protect your name and logo at the very least, any business founded after yours has the right to use it and, more importantly, trademark it as their own. Having your name and logo trademarked will allow for legal recourse against those trying to use a same or similar logo or name. Your trademark will also appear when other entrepreneurs conduct a trademark search. The Canadian trademark registration process is fairly straightforward. All information can be found on the Government of Canada website. Remember that in order to trademark a logo or name, you must use it. Use it or lose it!

4. Avoiding legal problems with my employees

Navigating through the basics of employment law is necessary to avoid costly lawsuits. This should come with the understanding that company founders, like all others working in the company, should be classified as either contractors, or employees, and be compensated as such. For instance, founders can be paid with options, shares and restricted stock units only if they are classified as contractors. Otherwise, all people classified as employees must be paid minimum wage at the very least. In many cases, start-ups often look to hire unpaid interns. Though this may seem like a financially sound decision, hiring unpaid interns comes with its own set of guidelines and details. Unpaid internships are not permitted in Quebec, unless they fall under the three narrow circumstances listed in Quebec’s ALS (An Act Respecting Labor Standards). Because unpaid internships are becoming more popular you must ensure that you are complying with the regulations of the ALS. With labor laws constantly changing you must also remain informed on employment contracts, workplace injuries, and regulation on overtime.

5. Understand equity financing:
If you’re going down the route of equity financing you must understand the difference between equity and preference shares. Equity shares are ordinary company shares. Meaning that the amount of shares held by an owner is the portion of their ownership in the company. On the other hand, preference shares get priority over equity shares. This means that preference share owners get precedence on matters like distribution of dividend, and repayment of capital during liquidation. There are however, different types of preference shares depending on the amount of power you are willing to give away. This includes, participating preference shares, non-participating preference shares, convertible shares, non-convertible shares, cumulative shares and non-cumulative shares. Since equity financing involves trading partial ownership for capital, your control may be more diluted as a result. The real question is how much influence you’re willing to give up and legal repercussions involved.

You may be wondering whether spending money on a lawyer so early in the game is necessary. You may also contemplate taking on the legal work on your own. What you should keep in mind is that there are certain aspects of running a business that should not be compromised. You should not be looking to save money when it comes to legal activity. It is may be costly now, but suffering the consequences of lack of legal expertise will cost you a lot more later on.

Instagram for Small Businesses

instagram, businessWe all know the power of Instagram. It’s filled with big corporations competing for the attention of millions of Millennials, and members of Generation Z. Small businesses will be intimidated by big corporations with unlimited marketing budget, large following and quality content. But this is the beauty of social media. Though all of these things can seem like deterrents at first, they are also the reason why you must give Instagram a try. But how can you use Instagram for small business? Instagram can be a great way to promote your brand, connect the physical world with the online world and launch a new product or service. What you use and how you use it will depend on your goals and your organization.

Instagram has about 800 million active daily users, Instagram is the fourth-most downloaded app in the US. So, if you are a business owner intimidated by entering such a crowded platform, keep in mind that capturing even the smallest percentage of your audience is still a significant amount of people. As a social media platform Instagram is unique because it’s all about visuals and aesthetics. All you need is your smartphone camera, and an idea of how you would like your brand to be represented. Instagram is also reported to have higher levels of interactivity between customers than other social media platforms. In other words, a smaller number of Instagram followers are more likely to share your content than a large group of Facebook follows. If you are running a business that targets customers based on lifestyle or income, as opposed to age, this works in your favor. With Instagram the chances of all members of your audience seeing your content increases as well. Because Instagram allows you to share your Instagram posts on Facebook automatically, your Facebook followers will be exposed to your Instagram content as well.

Instagram has its share of benefits. However, it is important not to have a same objective for all social media platform. Instagram is not Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or any other platform you are using. Its goal is to drive interaction with customers, website traffic, and sales through appealing visual content. So if you are a small business owner, unsure about how to use Instagram effectively, here are a few things to look out for.

  1. Visuals

    Visuals are the main currency of Instagram. Be relevant! Post compelling content your followers won’t be able to find anywhere. such as, business and industry-related material. Feel free to post staff pictures, behind-the-scene pictures of how your product is created, relevant quotes, community events etc. Whatever your brand image may be, create visual consistency. There should be a clear idea of brand and messaging. This is important. Having this nailed down with what your brand represents is key before undertaking any social media outlet. An example can be to Use the same filter for every post. this allows you to establish a style that becomes recognizable to your followers. One of your goals on Instagram is to get users to stop scrolling when they get to your image. You want followers to like or leave a comment, which means your visuals have to be compelling and recognizable. If you have a strong driven mission you can post visuals that embody this as well. You also don’t have to be a graphic designer to have visually appealing content. Affordable platforms such as Canva are easy to use and offer great quality work.

 

  1. Hashtags

    Creating a hashtag for your business is a must. Encourage your customers to post pictures of your products with this hashtag. To increase customer interaction, have hashtag sharing contests and ask your business partners to use it through cross-promotion. Don’t be afraid to include other hashtags relevant to national holidays or mainstream news. This can drive new customers to your page. You will be intimidated at first but don’t be! You can Check out what similar businesses are posting and the hashtags they are using. Having this information will make your page noticeable to the right people who need your product or service.

  2. Followers: Of course, having many followers is beneficial. However, at your early stages focus on having the right followers, as opposed to the number of followers. Some businesses have opted to buy Instagram followers. While this may be appealing at first, there are no long-term added benefits. This means no added interaction, exchange, or purchases just money that could have been spent elsewhere. The goal is to increase the conversation rate, not just the amount of followers. So make sure you follow and interact with your targeted followers, business partners and industry leaders.
  3. Consistency: Consistency works hand-in-hand with timing. This does not mean you have to post every day. Posting often and at the right time is key. Posting when your audience is likely to be online is best. Of course, this depends on your industry and customers. Posting quality content a few times a week is better than posting every day for the sake of meeting a quota.
  4. Effectiveness: There are several free platforms and metrics used in order to measure the effectiveness of the way you are using your platform. Other than the number of likes and shares, Iconosquare and Sumall are a few sites that can measure your effectiveness for free!

We hope this helped you shed some light into Instagram. Think of it as an affordable way to continue interacting with your audience. There is little to lose and much to gain. Worst case, you realize the platform isn’t for you. Even so, you learned a valuable lesson about your business along the way.

Mettre fin aux mythes au sujet des introvertis

introvertisHillary Clinton a un jour dit qu’elle n’est ni extravertie ni introvertie. Elle affirme qu’elle est «extra-introvertie.» Peu importe ce que cela peut signifier, une chose est certaine, c’est que de s’identifier en tant que l’un ou l’autre semble provoquer la peur d’être jugé. Si vous acceptez d’être extraverti, vous pouvez être perçu comme intimidant et désagréable. D’autre part, si vous déclarez que vous êtes introverti, vous risquez d’être jugé comme une personne qui est timide et qui préfère être seule. Malheureusement, ces idées fausses sont fréquemment rencontrées dans le monde des affaires et il arrive souvent que les introvertis soient désavantagés.

Dans un monde où les entrepreneurs doivent constamment réseauter, s’adresser à de grandes foules, et chercher à accroître leurs activités, il peut sembler préférable, dans le domaine de l’entrepreneuriat, d’être extraverti. Dans un sondage mené par USA Today, les résultats ont montré que 65 % des cadres croient que l’introversion est un obstacle au leadership. Par contre, si l’on y regarde plus à fond, certains des entrepreneurs les plus prospères du monde proclament être des introvertis. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, et Warren Buffet ne sont que quelques noms qui viennent à l’esprit. Il arrive souvent que les raisons pour lesquelles les gens déclarent les introvertis comme moins compétents soient précisément la raison de leur succès.

Mythe n° 1 : Les extravertis sont meilleurs pour prendre la parole en public

Malcolm Gladwell est habile à encourager les gens à réfléchir à leurs actions. Introverti qui réussit fort bien, il peut séduire des milliers de personnes sur scène tout comme il peut le faire à la table du dîner tout en demeurant totalement calme. Pour lui, parler en public, ou faire une présentation ne sont pas des actes réservés aux extravertis. Il s’agit plutôt de technique de narration. En outre, les craintes des introvertis à propos

à propos de présentations publiques sont exactement les mêmes que celles redoutées par les extravertis. La peur de l’hostilité de la foule, ne pas se souvenir de ses lignes, et le niveau général d’anxiété peuvent se retrouver chez tout le monde.

Mythe n° 2 : Les extravertis réussissent mieux au réseautage

Il est bien connu que les introvertis aiment analyser leurs pensées intérieurement. Cependant, vous n’êtes pas obligé d’être aussi ouvert et expressif que les personnes extraverties pour réussir à créer des liens sociaux et professionnels. Ce mythe suppose également que toutes les personnes présentes à des événements de réseautage sont extraverties, ce qui est fort peu probable. S’adapter à des comportements variés et tisser des liens, c’est ce en quoi consiste le réseautage. Les introvertis ont tendance à ne pas aimer les banalités et ils préfèrent de conversations plus approfondies en tête-à-tête. Cette attitude peut s’avérer être un avantage dans une salle remplie de gens qui sont passionnés par leurs entreprises en démarrage et leurs projets.

Mythe n° 3 : Les extravertis font de meilleurs chefs d’entreprise

Ce n’est pas que les extravertis soient de meilleurs chefs d’entreprise, c’est simplement que les extravertis et les introvertis ont des approches de gestion différentes. Il n’est pas question de bonne ou de mauvaise façon. Posséder de bonnes aptitudes analytiques, et permettre aux autres de s’exprimer pendant que vous écoutez peut ouvrir la porte à des stratégies plus riches. Avoir de bonnes capacités d’écoute, démontrer de l’empathie et aimer passer du temps seul sont des caractéristiques qui peuvent contribuer positivement au leadership.

En tant qu’entrepreneur, votre succès ne dépend pas de votre façon de vous définir, en tant qu’introverti, extraverti ou «extra-introverti». Il faut surtout retenir que les grands entrepreneurs restent fidèles à eux-mêmes. Ils ne cherchent pas à être quelqu’un qu’ils ne sont pas. Mais, et cela est encore plus important, de bons entrepreneurs connaissent leurs points forts autant que leurs faiblesses. Si vous êtes un entrepreneur astucieux, vous pouvez vous associer avec quelqu’un dont les forces complètent les vôtres. Malheureusement, à cause de plusieurs mythes, les introvertis sentent qu’ils doivent rivaliser avec les extravertis alors que ce qui importe vraiment c’est l’adaptation aux différents contextes. Heureusement pour nous, introvertis, ces mythes sont erronés.

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

startup, entrepreneurship, stress

There’s a maxim out there; failure is not an option.  It’s not that it’s an option that you choose, but failure is a reality. There is a tremendous amount of pressure that entrepreneurs put on themselves that, unfortunately, negatively affect their mental health. Being an entrepreneur comes with early mornings, late nights and unexpected outcomes. What you must keep in mind is that despite your hard work, things may not always go the way you want them to and may in some cases, not work out. For these very reasons it is important that you learn to set limits early on and that you surround yourself with a circle of trusted advisors that should be made up of other entrepreneurs.  Failure is sometimes the price you have to pay to eventually be a successful entrepreneur, however set yourself up so that it doesn’t destroy you. Here are 3 things entrepreneurs should keep in mind when starting their business venture.

  1. Starting a business can take a while and cause you tremendous stress-

You may have a timeline or particular process in mind when starting your business, as you should. But chances of things not going at your preferred pace, or as planned, are quite high.  A lot of things can go wrong between ideation and execution in business: Too much money, not enough money, bad advice, wrong approach, too early, not early enough, wrong place and wrong time, etc.  Because entrepreneurs must endure stress and uncertainty alone, it is important to have an outlet. Have a trusted mentor that you can lean on for unbiased advice. Be willing to wait and realize that some things may be out of your control.

  1. Comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs-

When people, or the media for that matter, speak about entrepreneurship they often tend to point to the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. What they don’t grasp is the amount of work that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur. Understand that Marc Zuckerberg was just Marc before he became ‘Marc Zuckerberg’. Using these popular and successful entrepreneurs as inspiration is one thing. However, many entrepreneurs become preoccupied with imitating their success instead of imitating their work ethic. Having a model to look up to is great, but remember that creating your own path, on your terms, should be your goal.

  1. Don’t take things personally-

As an entrepreneur you will come across some failures. After much hard work, your business may not be achieving the results you hoped for. Simply put, it requires that you accept the fact that in spite of one’s efforts, the end result is beyond one’s control. Entrepreneurship requires tough skin. it really isn’t personal. It’s strictly business. Of course, it’s hard not to feel discouraged when you are so passionate about your business. take that failure and learn from it, do not allow yourself to be defined by it. use it as a stepping stone for your next venture, it is a tough lesson but an invaluable one to have.

Resilience is the most necessary trait for success. It is also important for entrepreneurs to have a good support system and surround themselves with people they feel comfortable opening up to. The process will be difficult; understanding what you’ve learned in the process will be of great use to you for your future projects.