15 Smart Ways to Vet a Potential Investor Before Partnering

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What’s one smart way to vet a potential investor before sealing the deal?

1. Talk to Other Companies They Have Invested In

Diana GoodwinBy reaching out to Founders and executives at other companies that your potential investor has invested in, you’ll be able to get a sense of how hands on they will be, what type of advice or value-add they provide (aside from cash), and overall whether or not it was a good experience. This type of information will help you decide whether that particular investor will match what you are looking for.

– Diana GoodwinAquaMobile Swim School

2. Find Out What Value They Provide Beyond Money

Andrew ThomasAsk your investor to articulate exactly what value they will provide beyond writing a check.  If they can’t confidently and clearly articulate their value, you should not move forward in working toward terms. Ask them to explain how they delivered this value to other investments and how they can do the same specifically for your startup.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Video Doorbell

3. See How They Handle Negative News

Sean KellyThe only way to truly know a potential investor’s character is to go through tough times with him or her. To simulate that, strategically surface negative news and gauge their reaction. How they handle it will speak volumes.

– Sean KellySnackNation


4. Research the Investor Online

Shawn SchulzeIt’s amazing what you can find out about a person or entity by doing some thorough searches online. Research their background, prior investments, LinkedIn, business websites, online articles, press mentions, etc. Look for any red flags and validate any statements made. With social media and the amount of content published online, you can verify and uncover a lot about most individuals or entities.

– Shawn SchulzeSeniorCare.com

5. Break Bread Together

Nick BraunAlways meet in person before taking on a new investor. I recommend dinner or drinks to allow enough time for a thoughtful conversation. Too many entrepreneurs rely solely on email, social media and conference calls, but that will only tell you part of the story and can get you burned. I know it’s old school and a bit inconvenient, but all the research in the world can’t replace a handshake.

– Nick BraunPetInsuranceQuotes.com

6. Consider a Lawyer

Elle KaplanWhat many fail to realize is that you usually aren’t your own boss after getting funding. Investors can say that they’re on board with your company’s vision and core values, but might be singing a completely different tune after you sign the papers. That’s why I’m a huge fan of bootstrapping. If you really must get funding, do the research and consider a lawyer to make sure you retain control.

– Elle KaplanLexION Capital

7. Ask for References

Jordan FliegelIt’s important to ask for references of entrepreneurs the investor has previously backed. Set up calls with the founders to get the inside scoop on their experiences with the investor. A good investor will open up their Rolodex of contacts and offer to make an email introduction. If they are not willing to do so, it is a huge red flag.

– Jordan FliegelCoachUp, Inc.

8. Back Channel References

Joseph WallaAsk a lot of questions. If you really want to do a full vet, find out who they’ve invested in and do back channel references on them. You’d be surprised, not all VCs have sterling reputations within the community. Conversely, there are a lot of less well-known VCs who are both extremely helpful and have amazing reputations. The only way to find out is by doing back channel references.

– Joseph WallaHelloSign

9. Find Out if They Want to Learn From You

Julien PhamThere should be an obvious pattern. Look at their portfolio and the relationships they’ve maintained with the people they’ve invested in. A good investor is first and foremost a people person — someone with broad knowledge or experience and a thirst to learn through you. A good investor will trade their money and experience in exchange for an opportunity to grow and learn from you.

– Julien PhamRubiconMD

10. Discover if They Have a Willingness to Participate in Follow-on Rounds

Vishal ShahUnless your startup is witnessing hockey-stick growth, expect to raise multiple ‘bridge’ and/or ‘seed’ rounds before you raise Series A. If existing investors decide not to join a follow-on round, it sends a negative signal to other investors. Dig into the investor’s past track record and measure how often they have participated and/or led subsequent bridge rounds. Stay away from the one-timers.

– Vishal ShahNoPaperForms

11. Know Whether They Can Take on a Lead Role for You

Andy KaruzaInvestors typically know and work with other investors. Should you have to raise more money, they should be willing to take the lead on helping you raise. This type of investor is very important to have early on in your company as it will dictate success in future rounds.

– Andy Karuzabrandbuddee

12. Flip the Script

Aron SusmanAsk them how they view your company, what they see your company accomplishing, and their ultimate growth goal with your company. It’s ideal to find an active investor, instead of one who plans to put in some money and leave it at that.

– Aron SusmanTheSquareFoot


13. Talk to a Previous Company That Had A Period of Failure

Trevor SummersThe true test of a great investor is how they react when times are tough. Do they disengage? Provide helpful guidance and introductions? Do they redouble their efforts? Every investor has had struggling investments. Find out who in their portfolio went through tough times and getthe skinny about what it’s going to be like for you when you face your most important challenges.

– Trevor SumnerLocalVox

14. Focus on Investors Who Grasp Your Business Quickly

David CiccarelliHaving raised around $5,000,000 from a variety of investors, I’ve learned that those who grasp the business quickly will be the bestinvestors. Don’t waste time explaining your business model, including your value proposition, profit model, key resources and core processes to an uninformed investor. Instead, focus your time and energy with those who intuitively appreciate the opportunity.

– David CiccarelliVoices.com

15. Share Your Vision

Shilpi SharmaDo you share your vision with the VCs you are looking to get money from? Two things you would get to know: 1) Whether the VC would be a partner in your vision and help you refine it as you progress, and 2) If there is disagreement regarding the vision of the company, how would you two sort it out? It is very important for you to be open and transparent with VCs since you are looking for a partner for next three or four years with them.

– Shilpi SharmaKvantum Inc.

11 Instances When You Should Ignore Advice From an Investor or Advisor

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

When should you ignore advice from an investor or advisor?

1. It Isn’t True to Your Mission

Michael SpinosaIgnoring advice is never easy, but it is necessary when people blindly apply detailed actions or tasks to a situation/model you know they haven’t fully comprehended. Large scale recommendations that go against the very principles of why you embarked on this journey should be disregarded. Stay true to your mission. Keep external advice focused around common occurrences.

– Michael SpinosaUnleashed Technologies

2. The Context It’s Based on Is Outdated

Michael KleinmannSometimes investors/advisors think because they have 30 or more years of experience than you, they know how to handle situations. While many situations are the same as they used to be once you peel back the layers of the onion, many are not. Reframing the advice in the context of modern business and listening to your gut are very important.

– Michael KleinmannThe Underwear Expert, Inc.

3. They Can’t Substantiate It

Andrew ThomasIf you receive advice from an investor or advisor that just doesn’t feel right, ask them to support their position. If they can’t articulate exactly why they advocate for a certain decision or can’t substantiate their position with past experiences, then you should consider passing on the advice. When asking, politely state that you want additional insight so you can better understand.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Video Doorbell

4. Their Background Isn’t Aligned With What You‘re Doing

Brandon StapperI also consider the background of the investor/advisor and take their advice accordingly. Everyone wants to give you advice, and there is such a thing as bad advice. If you are taking business advice, make sure they’ve personally been there and done that.

– Brandon Stapper858 Graphics


5. It Doesn’t Resonate

Erica EasleySavvy leaders are good listeners, but that doesn’t mean they take all advice they are given. If advice, even from a key advisor, doesn’t resonate with you, than it isn’t the right move for your business. That said, ignoring advice from respected sources is sloppy. Reflect on what you don’t agree with, and why you are choosing a different path. That reflection will make you and your company stronger.

– Erica EasleyGumball Poodle

6. They Interfere in Day-to-Day Activities

Piyush JainInvestors and advisors are there to support long-term goals and management, not for micromanagement. As a business owner, youshould have full freedom for day-to-day operation. If investors/advisors are meddling with your daily work or tend to advise you on trivial items, you want toignore them or express your displeasure. You can listen to them, but be the final decision maker.

– Piyush JainSIMpalm

7. It’s Hard and Fast

Dan GoldenAdvice, whether paid or free, is just that — advice. It’s never a “must do.” It’s a “Hmm, maybe I should.” When it comes to not taking advice, any that comes hard and fast is usually worth turning down. “Dan, you have to change;” or “Dan, I’ve seen this a million times, you‘re doing it wrong!” I still consider the source, but most often, I won’t implement.

– Dan GoldenBe Found Online

8. It’s Short-Term

Elle KaplanAt LexION Capital, I advise a long-term approach to investing, and the same holds true for entrepreneurship. Chasing short term gains will not ensure long-term success. You should always be looking at how advice will affect you years down the road, because any gains now could be ruined out by potential damage in the future. Any advice that doesn’t follow this should be thrown out the window.

– Elle KaplanLexION Capital

9. They Are a “Check-in Advisor”

Roger BryanThe number one thing to look out for is advisors or mentors that are assigned to you via an incubator or accelerator that seem to jump in, have a bunch of ideas, and then jump out of conversations. These advisors are very easy to spot after about one or two meetings. They want you to make major critical changes but then don’t respond to emails when you have questions. Fire them fast (you can).

– Roger BryanEnfusen Digital Marketing

10. Never Ignore Advice

Mark SamuelNever ignore advice. The real question is whether or not you use that advice or act upon that advice, but you can’t do either if yousimply ignore it. If someone is offering guidance, be happy to receive it, whether or not it’s in line with your own thoughts. It allows you to look at it from another position and evaluate which direction to choose.

– Mark SamuelFitmark

11. It Ignores Customer Data

Adam RootInvestors and advisors provide invaluable expertise, but they can be wrong. If you suffer from the HIPPO complex (i.g., Highest-Paid-Person’s Opinion counts most), remember: that’s not your customer. If investors ignore customer data, ignore them. Following such advice shows your customers, employees and colleagues that you cower when things get tough.

– Adam RootSocialCentiv

12 Ways to Come Across as More Trustworthy During a Startup Pitch

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What’s your No. 1 tip for coming across as more trustworthy during a startup pitch?

1. Be Aware of Your Body Language

Darrah BrusteinYour body language says a lot without you saying anything. Be sure to maintain eye contact, face your body toward your audience, and if it’s natural for you, express your passion through your hands. Don’t cross your arms and legs, as it makes you seem uncomfortable and could come off as though you’re hiding something.

– Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

2. Acknowledge the Risks

Kevon SaberThe best entrepreneurs don’t pretend their startup doesn’t have any risk. Instead, they manage risk better than everyone else. When you articulate your biggest risks and your plan for mitigating them, you demonstrate you’re a critical thinker who will manage their cash and the opportunity in a disciplined way.

– Kevon SaberJellyTelly

3. Listen and Don’t Interrupt

Andrew ThomasListening is a great way to earn their trust. By listening, we demonstrate a willingness to receive and learn from feedback. Also, don’t interrupt. This shows respect for the other person and their ideas. Investors hear plenty of pitches from hyperbolic founders who interrupt them or always have an answer for every question. Be humble.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Video Doorbell

4. Don’t Fake It

Corey BlakeIf you want to build trustworthiness, stop pretending you have all the answers. Acknowledge what you don’t know, and be honest about the fear you have as you embark on this journey. Being honest goes a long way to extending trust. It doesn’t mean that you’ll win every time, but when you do, you’ll be in alignment with your investor.

– Corey BlakeRound Table Companies

5. Show Solid Data

Nicolas GremionDemonstrate that your research and ideas are based on strong foundation of solid data. Make sure your info is recent, from reliable sources and compatible. Avoid vague statements and numbers. Be precise when you can and use supporting evidence. If your proclamations and numbers seem dodgy, so will you. If you come across as well prepared and researched, it will add to your credibility.

– Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

6. Bring Someone Experienced Along

Matt DoyleWhether it’s someone close to you who’s willing to help you through this stage, or someone you’ve paid for their consulting services, a veteran always looks good on your side of the table. Bringing experience into the leadership early is reliable proof to investors that you are taking this venture seriously.

– Matt DoyleExcel Builders

7. Relax

jared-brownAny nervous tics you have will come out during a startup pitch if you don’t relax. Many of these tics, like failing to make eye contact, sweating, talking too much or too fast, or not talking enough, are often interpreted as a lack of trustworthiness. People respond much better to relaxed people than to someone who’s wound up, so find a technique you like and practice it as much as you can.

– Jared BrownHubstaff

8. Don’t Come Across as Too Eager or Desperate

Shawn PoratWhile you naturally want to be enthusiastic and persuasive, don’t be too attached to the outcome of any one meeting with a potential investor. Think of it as a conversation where you’re explaining your idea. If the other person is interested, great; if not, you can always approach others who are more suitable. If you are too eager, the other person can sense this and trust you less.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

9. Stay Levelheaded

Mark SamuelIt’s very important to remember that when you’re pitching your idea, you’ll always be the most passionate person in the room. If you’re already fired up, take a step back and slow it down a little. Most people making the decisions will remain very levelheaded, so you want to passionately convey your idea without overkill, or you’ll scare them off. Make them believe in your idea.

– Mark SamuelFitmark

10. Share a Compelling Story

Lauren PerkinsWhether that means admitting something you’ve been wrong about or sharing a story from your past, investors are people, and they invest in people. Share a compelling story of how and why your idea came to be and why you are the best team for the opportunity. It helps to admit what you need to validate or learn to get to the big win.

– Lauren PerkinsPerks Consulting

11. Make Them Part of the Equation

Miles JenningsInvestors and venture capitalists don’t want to be treated solely as a source of funding. They want to know that they can be a part of your vision too! When pitching, make the story about them. Involve them in the outcome and success of your company and show that they can be an integral part of your dream in the future. They will be able to see much more value in this kind of opportunity.

– Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

12. Be Overprepared

SathvikTantryThe best way to garner confidence and trust in your startup is to anticipate and prepare for any curveballs ahead of time. To do this, you need to poke holes in your own business plan and understand all the risks associated with your startup ahead of time. Then you need to figure out how to either accept or mitigate each one of those risks and back them up with solid numbers and market research.

– Sathvik TantryFormSwift

11 Tips for Starting a Conversation With a Potential Investor

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

I landed a short meeting with a potential investor thanks to a warm introduction. Where do I start the conversation?

1. Get to Know Them

Diana GoodwinBefore diving into the details of your business, start with some lighter conversation topics, perhaps by bringing up the person who made the introduction. And let the conversation naturally flow to business talk. The meeting shouldn’t just be about money — it’s important to make sure you get along on a personal level as well.

– Diana GoodwinAquaMobile Swim School

2. Be Clear and Concise

Zachary BurkesLook, we’re all incredibly busy — imagine having people pulling you in every direction to invest in their next great idea. It has to be exhausting. One way to separate yourself from the pack is to be clear, concise and effective in how you communicate your company and product. If you can’t explain your company in 30 seconds, it’s either too complex or you don’t understand it well enough.

– Zachary BurkesGatekeeper Innovation Inc.

3. Start With Background

Mark CenicolaThe first step is getting to know each other. Find out as much about the investor’s background as possible and provide them with your background. Keep in mind that an investment doesn’t happen in a single meeting. Finding common ground can create mutual trust, create a basis for an ongoing relationship and ultimately lead to an investment.

– Mark CenicolaBannerView.com

4. Sell Your Method, Not Your Product

Murray NewlandsTell the investor how big the market is and how much money they are going to make from investing in your company that is inevitably going to succeed. Far to many founders start with demonstrating the product and talking about functionality without selling the problem and the business case first. If there is no problem or business case, it doesn’t matter how great your product is.

– Murray NewlandsDue.com

5. Ask Questions to Build Trust

Joseph WallaYou’re either raising or you’re not raising. And unless you’re having five investor meetings a day for weeks on end, you’re probably not raising. In this case you should use the meeting as an opportunity to build the relationship without indicating that you want money. Ask the investorsquestions to qualify them. Building trust in a genuine way is priceless, so take advantage of the not-raising mindset.

– Joseph WallaHelloSign

6. Discuss the Person Who Made the Introduction

Jason LaYou should start the conversation by talking about how you know the person who made the introduction, including why the person thought you and the investor should meet. You want to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by displaying knowledge of the investor’s past projects. The next step is to present your pitch. Investors are busy, so don’t waste time.

Jason LaMerchant Service Group, LLC

7. Find Out What Caught Their Eye

David CiccarelliInvestors hear about thousands of ideas each year and sit through hundreds of pitches; they’ve seen it all. The fact that you’ve landed an in-person meeting means that you are doing something new or have a unique approach. Find out what that is. I’d open the meeting with, “Before we get started, can I ask what specifically caught your eye?” That becomes your hook for future meetings.

– David CiccarelliVoices.com

8. Ask Questions About Past Investments

Jayna CookeIt is so important to understand what the potential investor is looking to invest in. Ask them questions about their past investments that have done really well. Find a way to compare yourself and your ideas with them. Take this as a launching point and have your deck ready with information that you know they will want to talk about.

– Jayna CookeEVENTup

9. Build Rapport

Joshua LeeStart by building rapport. They’re already warm to you so let them get to know who you are and what you’re about outside of your company. Investors want to know your character and a big part of that is what you stand for outside the business arena. They’re looking to reduce risk. Knowing the reason you’ll fight so hard for your business and your big “why” signals to them how serious you are.

– Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

10. Find Common Ground

Christopher KellyFind some common ground and keep the conversation lighthearted before diving into business. After you have established a personal connection, the investor is more apt to help you. This help could come in the form of honest feedback, connections, added time or maybe even funding.

– Christopher KellyConvene

11. Be Prepared

Alfredo AtanacioBecause investors have limited time, you need to be prepared with a pitch that explains your business or idea in 30 seconds. You need to show the value you will deliver to the market and how the investor will get his money back. Remember that the meeting is not about you; it’s about the investor and what can you offer them.

– Alfredo AtanacioUassist.ME

10 Signs Your Are Relying Too Heavily on Technology to Run Your Business

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

At what point are you relying too much on technology to run your business? Why?

1. When Automation Replaces Personal Interaction

Shawn PoratIf all or most of your communication with customers and prospects consists of automated messages, you are missing out on the chance to connect with people in a more direct manner. Smaller companies in particular should take the time to answer social media comments and emails personally whenever possible, especially regarding specific comments, questions and inquiries.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

2. When No One Has Work if the Internet Goes Down

john ramptonWhen the Internet goes down and you have 100 people in your office doing nothing but twiddling their thumbs, this is a problem. People should know that they can still get some of their job done, have leads to call, etc.

– John RamptonDue


3. When You Begin to Lose Business

Nicole MunozOccasionally, a client will contact us with a confusing issue. They switched to online services and lost a lot of business. Simply, online marketing means you’ve moved to a digital format, not that you can take the human element out of your operations. You’ll need to invest in educating customers on the new way to work with you, especially if it’s an older customer base.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

4. When You Don’t Understand Your Business

Adam Roozen“Too much” technology is not inherently a bad thing. It’s possible that your business can be fully automated and you can disappear. The risk comes in when you no longer understand your business because the technology is beyond your understanding. Without understanding, you don’t have control. Without control, you can’t mitigate risk.

– Adam RoozenEchidna, Inc.

5. When it Replaces Higher Level Decision Making

Randy RayessMany times technology and data allow us to make smarter decisions and can be very useful. However, there are still many higher level decisions that we have to make based on intuition and experience that will allow us to innovate and be creative.

– Randy RayessVenturePact


6. When You Don’t Talk to People to Sell Your Service

Andy KaruzaToo many entrepreneurs are trying to automate lead generation through CPC advertising. However, the best and most proven way of closing the deal will always be talking to people directly. This will not only create a better connection with your customer, but it will allow you to walk them through the solution and answer any objections.

– Andy KaruzaSpotSurvey

7. When You Can’t Remember Meeting Your Last Client

Nicolas GremionFor those of us that live online, it’s not often you get to meet clients or business associates in person. And while a lot can be said and done via email or even video chat, it’s not always the same. So try to get out to the odd industry event, conference or even try to get together with some clients from time to time. It will can be refreshing, inspiring and beneficial.

– Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

8. When Buying New Tech Becomes the Answer to Every Problem

Manpreet SinghAdopting new tech is costly; it drains productivity as teams retrain. So, if you’re the early adopter with all the latest tech solutions (to problems you discovered during a sales pitch) like a kid watching too much TV, you may lack imagination for problem solving. Low ROI, team management, inefficiencies, CRM: there’s an app for all of that and more, but they aren’t always the answer.

– Manpreet SinghTalkLocal

9. When You’re Messaging a Colleague Right Next to You

Kofi KankamWhen you’re sitting three feet or a cubicle over from one of your colleagues who is not in a meeting and you decide to use a messaging platform to ask a quick question or have a 15-second dialogue, you know technology has taken over your business by eroding face-to-face interaction.

– Kofi KankamAdmit.me

10. When You Start to Misuse It

Thomas MinieriTechnology is about one thing: speed! Modern business moves at the speed of light. So the question is: what are you trying to make faster? If you use technology to connect with and service customers faster, then you can’t have enough of it. If you use technology to replace connecting with and servicing customers, then you’re going to have problems.

– Thomas MinieriPlanet Ballroom International, Inc.

11 Ways to Handle Objections When Selling Your Product

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

How do you handle objections during the sales process?

1. Stay Positive and Focus on Your Strengths

When discussing capabilities and differences with clients about competitors, always highlight the competitive advantages and increased capabilities of what your company offers. If your focus is degrading your competitors, it comes across as petty and focuses the client on the wrong brand, partner and service provider.

– Parker PowersBig Brand Media

2. Explain That You’re the Expert

It happens often; a client doesn’t want to sign on for a marketing service that I know they need. When this happens, I make sure to fully establish that they are the fill-in-the-blank expert, but I’m the marketing expert. I know what I’m doing, I know what works and I am going to be honest about that. I’m not selling frisbees here — I’m selling services that get leads.

– Maren HoganRed Branch Media

3. Pause, Listen and Address

Naturally, hearing “no” can induce anxiety. Personally, I pause to ensure I provide a composed reaction. But before I do that, I also listen carefully to what the prospective customer is genuinely hesitant about. In many cases, they are not upfront with their true reservations. After digging deeper and identifying the real underlying problems, I address each and every one honestly and openly.

– Firas KittanehAmerisleep

4. Discuss Specific Cases

During a sales call or meeting, the potential client might disagree with an idea or method of doing things. I like to bring up facts to support my team’s methods. Talk about how you’ve helped past clients in a way that relates to them. If they still object, take a moment to listen to their reasons. It’s better to keep the relationship solid than to force something upon your potential client.

– Michael QuinnYellow Bridge Interactive

5. Build Crediblity by Telling Prospects Not to Hire You

To build trust with a prospect, simply state that you may not be the right partner for them. Provide suggestions for other types of services they can hire instead. This way you’re still providing value even if you don’t end up working with them. Most prospects will be surprised at this answer and will genuinely come to trust your organization. This will help possibly land the sale either now or in the future.

– Brian HonigmanBrianHonigman.com

6. Identify the Nature of Their Objections and Respond Accordingly

First, I try to determine if the person I’m talking to is really a qualified prospect. If the person objects because they really aren’t a good match for what I’m selling, I acknowledge this and politely end the discussion. On the other hand, if the objection is due to a misunderstanding, I try to supply the missing information that will help them understand what I have to offer.

– Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising

7. Prepare Answers

Most objections you encounter are the same: it’s too expensive, now is not a good time, etc. Prepare for them by coming up with succinct answers (1-3 sentences). When the client brings up that objection, you can respond promptly without having to mentally compute your answer. Embrace objections. They move the sales process forward and help you better understand the prospect.

– Steli EftiClose.io

8. Find the Real Reason for the Objection

A customer will often give you two reasons for an objection: the reason that sounds good and the real reason. Most people dance with the first. The key is to listen and ask guided questions to help understand the real reason they are reluctant to move forward. Perhaps it’s something you can address and help them understand for themselves.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

9. Be Proactive

The truth is we likely know what the objections or challenges will be if we have done our homework. Rather than exclusively selling with the positive, I address these possible objections head-on. It shows I’m paying attention and truly want more than their business — I want a relationship. On their end, it builds trust and allows them to be open to other concerns.

– Suzanne SmithSocial Impact Architects

10. (Re)connect With Success Metrics

If someone is unsure at the end of a sales call, I like to ask, “What results would you need to achieve from our engagement to make it a priceless, grand slam investment?” That question directly connects them to what might make the financial commitment worth it, and has a great secondary benefit: it will help us get crystal clear on exactly how to proceed if/when they do enroll.

– Jenny BlakeJenny Blake

11. Sell Your Knowledge, Not Your Product

Personalize your sales pitch using your potential customer’s concerns as a refining tool. Listen to what they are saying and acknowledge that they have a legitimate concern by repeating it back to them. This may feel strange at first, but studies show that hearing someone else say a problem aloud conveys a sense of understanding. Finally, tailor a solution to the specific situation.

– Simon CasutoeLearning Mind

The Top Qualities to Look for in Your Very First Hire

Your company is up and running – or at least crawling – and now you get to hire your first employee. You’ve probably worked with a lot of people, maybe you’ve even hired a few, but this is a whole new ball game. This person is patient zero of your startup. You need to make sure you get it right! So what should your startup look for in a great hire?

What is the no. 1 quality I should look for in my very first hire and why?

Kelly Azevedo1. Amazing Communication Skills

No matter your industry or the position for your very first hire, you absolutely need someone who can communicate well. When instructions are unclear or incomplete, you’ll want an employee who asks for clarification. If there’s an error or you haven’t accounted for something in the business, you need a team member who speaks up with confidence. And if this hire is customer facing in any way, respectful communication is critical.

– Kelly AzevedoShe’s Got Systems

Phil Chen

2. Work Ethic
Your first hire sets the tone for future hires, so it’s important to find someone with a great work ethic. Having such a quality ensures you can depend on this person and he or she will not need constant encouragement to complete tasks and duties. Small organizations don’t allow to much time for continual guidance, so having an employee who works hard and pushes through is key.

– Phil ChenSystems Watch

Oisin Hanrahan

3. Smarts (That Exceed Your Own)

We have the motto at Handybook: “Recruit smarter than you.”  We believe in hiring the best and the brightest and we admit what we don’t know all. That’s crucial for both the first hire and every hire after that.

Oisin HanrahanHandybook

Mike McGee

4. A Growth Mindset

The No. 1 quality I look for when hiring is someone with a growth mindset. A person with a growth mindset understands that learning never stops. They can always get better at their craft and improve in other areas. A person with a fixed mindset believes that they’ve learned everything they need to and is not open to change. This can not only hamper the quality of their work, but can cause team dynamic issues in the long term.

– Mike McGeeThe Starter League

5. Coachable Foresight

Joshua Lee
The No. 1 quality I look for is ‘coachable foresight,’ whether I’m hiring an employee or contractor. I want them to be able to see where they’re going. I will share with them where the company’s going. Then, if they have foresight, they’ll see in their mind’s eye how they fit in. They’ll have an idea what steps they need to take and be coachable enough to achieve the outcome they want.

– Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

Kim Kaupe
6. Humility

Your first hire should be humble and willing to learn along side of you. At a startup where dynamics and work is changing day to day, it is important to have someone who is humble enough to say, “I don’t know the answer but I will spend the next two hours figuring it out.” Having a know-it-all or someone who is bullheaded will cause your growing company to miss out on opportunities to engage in faster, stronger and bigger developments.

– Kim KaupeZinePak

Kevin Xu7. Consistency

One of the most important characteristics for me is consistency. It is important to evaluate a person’s working ethic based on how much he respects and is serious about a job opportunity. Choosing between ability and faith, I will first look into faith and how you can retain the person by giving him faith in you.

– Kevin XuMebo international

john rampton8. A Complementary Skill Set

hire someone just like you because you get along perfectly. Hire someone who is different than you. If you’re an introvert, you will need an extrovert. If you’re a marketing guy, hire a programmer. Hire someone with different skills.

– John RamptonAdogy

Manpreet Singh9. Complete the Puzzle

First, picture the qualities most important to  your business. Then, look for each of those qualities in yourself. If you’re being honest, you won’t find all of them. The missing ones are the qualities you should look for in your first hire. In fact, that same principle can be applied to every other hire after that. The hiring process is like completing the puzzle you envision. Fill openings with what’s missing.

– Manpreet SinghSeva Call

Phil Dumontet

10. Hunger

People can learn your business, but a genuine drive to achieve great things comes from within.

– Phil DumontetDASHED


Jeff Mcgregor
11. Experience

My co-founder and I burned a lot of valuable time trying to learn the ropes on our own. Once we started hiring more experienced talent, we realized that we were spending less time shooting in the dark, and more time building a stronger healthier business. If there’s one thing that allows me to sleep better at night, it’s knowing I’ve hired the right people to run their respective divisions within the company.

– Jeff McGregorDash

Andrew Thomas12. Passion

For your first hire, consider hiring someone who has similar levels of passion. This is not just limited to the product or industry. This person should share your same passion for working hard, creating something amazing and delivering the very best experience or benefits to customers. They should share a passion for the process, not just the destination.

– Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

David Ehrenberg13. Sales Skills

Look for a rainmaker who can sell your company’s vision when you’re looking to build traction and start generating users. Technical skills will always be available, but sales and relationship-building skills are much tougher to find.

– David EhrenbergEarly Growth Financial Services

Andrew Schrage14. Flexibility

Things often change at a moment’s notice in today’s business world. Plus, the very first hire will probably be asked to complete many different responsibilities and tasks, some of which they might not possess much knowledge about. In order to be productive, workers must be able to adapt to change rapidly and think quickly on their feet.

– Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

Step Back to Move Forward

It’s a difficult notion to comprehend, and an even harder realization to experience at a personal level: sometimes, the path to progress requires us to pause, assess the path we’re on, and decide that the best move forward might be an entirely new one. StepBackMoveForward

And when we’re pushing in multiple directions at once, the knowledge gained from stepping back for a second can prove invaluable.

I have some exciting news for you today, Verge nation!

After 9 months as your executive director, I and the Verge team have learned a lot. After adding a few key contributors, and once Matt jumped back into Verge activities more extensively a few months ago, we’ve seen tons of forward progress. It’s shown us that the most exciting path forward is a wide one, and will require many hands.

I’m thrilled to announce that Verge will continue to move forward by growing our team, and that I’m taking on a new role with the team.

Matt Hunckler will focus on some exciting new initiatives and supporting our Verge Hubs in other cities. Tim Hickle will continue to help us create online content (and will be on stage more, too). And several other members of our community are stepping into new Verge roles.

And we’re hiring! If you know of a Project Manager-type who would be interested in joining the Verge team as our full-time Operations lead, drop me or Matt a line.

Ohanian Synnestvedt HuncklerStepping back and finding new ways to approach opportunities has yielded improved strategies and tools for the Verge team to provide the most value we can to you, the community we care so deeply about. And, by stepping back, I’ve found something of a new path of my own, too.

In addition to continuing my work with Verge in an editor and volunteer capacity, I’m:

  • Building a solution for autism therapy I hope to tell you more about from the Verge stage soon
  • Working with awesome clients to launch products and market online
  • Looking for my next adventure in marketing and sales

So, it’s with immense gratitude that I would like to thank you for being a member of our amazing community, and for allowing me to serve as your executive director for this past year. You’ll continue to see posts and updates from me here, I’ll continue to help you and Verge however I can, and together, we’ll keep moving forward!

Synnestvedt Verge Team

14 Things We’d Tell Our Younger Selves About Entrepreneurship Today

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

If you could tell yourself one thing before you started your business, what would you say?

Charles Gaudet1. Spend 80 Percent of Time Working on Your Business

Most people spend 80 percent of their time taking care of the everyday operational activities in their business, but growth happens during the other 20 percent of the time you’re working on your business. In order to dominate your market, the roles must be reversed. You must spend 80 percent of the time working on your business and 20 percent working in your business. Build a team to support that action.
Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits

Phil Chen2. Remember That You’re Not Always Right

By nature, starting a business means you feel you have the right answers to bring a product or service people will want to market. Otherwise, you would never attempt such a big endeavor. It’s critical, however, to understand that you are more often wrong than right in your business decisions, and identifying and adapting quickly to being wrong will increase your odds of success.
Phil Chen, Givit

Divya Dhar3. Think About Meals

It’s crucial to have team members who are not only exceptionally smart at what they do, but who are also very easy and fun to work with. You should ask yourself, “Can I have a drink or meal with this person on a regular basis and still find the conversation riveting?” You will spend a lot of time with these people, so you want them to be your friends.
Divya Dhar, Seratis

Nicolas Gremion4. Hang Tough

When starting out, people are usually tremendously excited about their prospects. But excitement often turns to despair if expectations of early success were exaggerated. Remember, the road to prosperity is often a winding one. Perseverance is key, and you should never to lose your passion.
Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net


Natalie McNeil5. Trust Your Intuition

When you start your first business, it’s easy to feel like everyone knows so much more than you do — especially your advisors and mentors. It’s true that a great advisory board or a few amazing mentors can take you far, but you still need to trust your gut. There were times when I ignored my gut feeling and opted to listen to those with more experience than I had, and it never ended well.
Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

Dan Price6. Stay True to Your Culture

Stay as true to your core values and culture as you possibly can. Make sure that hiring and promoting happen internally as much as possible.
Dan Price, Gravity Payments


Marjorie Adams7. Write It Down

Document everything. Take 10 or 15 minutes to record a video or do a write-up, so when someone else needs to do it again, you have the directions. This provides the thing that the majority of employees request more of when surveyed — training.
Marjorie Adams, AQB


Amanda Barbara8. Form a Strong Focus and Plan

Make sure you have a clear business plan and goals you want to achieve each year. Have a strong focus and a plan that forecasts how you plan to grow. It’s okay to evolve as you learn, but know who your audience is and what the needs are in the industry.
Amanda Barbara, Pubslush


Sean Marszalek9. Don’t Let the ‘Nos’ Break You

Everything begins with “no.” To me, that’s when the game begins. In the beginning, all you hear from potential investors and clients is “no.” Don’t let the “nos” break you down; let them motivate you to succeed.
Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.


Tarek Pertew10. Have Patience

Have the patience to see your vision through. Too often, people react negatively to early signals. If you stay in the game long enough, you’ll learn so many things and meet so many people that it services as a growing hedge against failure.
Tarek Pertew, Wakefield Media


Chris Cancialosi11. Make the Leap

To grow in a sustainable way, you have to be willing and able to give up doing the work yourself to spend time and energy growing your company. Thankfully, this came naturally to me, and the transition was smooth. I know a lot of people who started a business because they loved doing the work and failed to make the leap to leader because they couldn’t give up the technical work.
Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

Aron Schoenfeld12. Life Happens

Building a business is hard work and people often forget that there is a real world outside of their startup. Make sure to take advantage of life and the opportunities it presents, both good and bad. Allow life to happen and don’t try to be all work all the time. Enjoy your friends, family and everything that is thrown at you. It will make you a better person and help you in the long run.
Aron Schoenfeld, Do It In Person LLC

Ryan-Stoner13. Slice Goals to Achieve ‘Wins’

You have to manufacture wins and set achievable goals to move forward. Every project in a startup should take no more than six to 10 weeks. First, focus on small wins and breaking down your goals. By having small goals and stringing them together, you create momentum. Small wins lead to bigger wins. In my experience, startups are successful because of a long string of small wins.
Ryan Stoner, ryanstoner.com

allie siarto14. Prepare for the Worst and the Best

It’s hard to imagine exactly what will happen with your company when you’re just getting started, but it’s important to invest the time up front and go through various scenarios around the future of your company — especially if you have partners. Write out a plan together for how you will handle worst- and best-case scenarios. For example, what happens if someone wants to buy your company some day?
Allie Siarto, Fare Oak

The Music Marketing and Technology Festival that isn’t for Jerks

If you’re familiar with the Indiana technology and marketing crowd,  you may already know Douglas Karr. He’s worked for over a decade in  Indianapolis to drive innovation and growth through the doors of some of Indy’s most exciting startups.

For those who haven’t met Doug, well, he’s outspoken. And his voice carries. He’s been called arrogant and a jerk before, especially the occasional target of one of Doug’s spectacularly sarcastic tweets or Facebook debates.

But for those of us that do know him, he’s humorous, kind-hearted and has helped many individuals find employment, many companies find customers, many technologists find solutions and he continues to open his door to anyone in need.

Case in point is the upcoming Music Marketing Tech Midwest (MTMW) event that Doug is leading.


Musicians, Marketers and Technologists Rally for Blood Cancers

What is #MTMW? Well, in a nutshell – it’s a music and technology festival with a charitable twist.

This musical and tech jamboree will mesh together live music performed by today’s hottest local bands, duets and singers (Kaleidostars, Bleedingkeys and The Whipstitch Sallies), while showcasing the city’s most promising marketing and technology companies.

It’s even rallied support from PERQ, Right On Interactive, Digital Relevance,  TechPoint,  Angies List and Tinder Box. Packed with all the essentials every memorable party requires, hundreds of Hoosiers will drink, eat and dance to the groovin’ musical styles of small town favorite bands. And it’s all happening on Sunday, April 27 at The Rathskeller.

And every dollar raised from ticketing, sponsorships, sales and donations will go directly to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Indiana to support blood cancer research.Leukemia Lymphonma Society

You see, our city possesses this amazing relentless ability to create change in society. Sometimes it takes just one man (maybe Doug Karr) to put a little plan into action. And since Doug has spent years examining the drive and potential Indianapolis possesses, he wanted to create a city-wide movement towards forever impacting the way blood cancer is viewed.

He doesn’t seem like a jerk now, right?

So, unless you’ve worked or partied with Douglas, you probably don’t know him. It’s time to party with Douglas. And there’s no better place to do that than at #MTMW.

Because when you support MTMW, you’re not just supporting Doug. And you’re not just supporting the Indianapolis Music, Technology and Marketing communities, too. When you support MTMW, you support Hoosiers in need – which means you’re not a jerk, either.

Eager to get involved with #MTMW? For up-to-the-minute updates on MTinMW, like the event on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.