13 Ways to Keep Investors Interested Post-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 best tip for keeping the conversation open with investors post-pitch?

 

1. Treat Your Followup Like a Sales Campaign

Send them a follow-up email using a tool like Yesware to ensure that the email is active and they opened it. A couple weeks later, send another email with a link to exciting news about your company. Did they click on the link? This will help gauge their interest level, even if they don’t respond right away. – Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

 

2. Forecast and Track

To keep the conversation open with investors post initial pitch, emphasize a key business metric and the near-term forecast. In a follow-up communication, be sure to compare how the business is tracking to that forecasted key metric. This will not only give investors something to look forward to, but it will show how you are executing the plan. – Eddie LouShiftgig 

 

3. Keep Them Updated, But Don’t Be in Pursuit

After your meeting, make sure to keep these investors updated but don’t pursue them. Let them know your process (e.g., “We’re in meetings for two more weeks and then we’ll make decisions”) and try to gain the power in the relationship. The more they need to chase you, the more likely you can raise money. – Aaron SchwartzModify Watches 

 

4. Understand Their Doubts and Address Them

By showing that you are cognizant of their doubts and are working to address them, you show you’re willing to listen and will adjust your strategies to fit their concerns. If they see progress in the areas where they had doubts, they’ll be more willing to work with you and to trust your vision. – Marcela De VivoBrilliance 

 

 

5. Get Creative With Your Followup

With so many emails being exchanged in a day, I prefer to follow up with investors in a unique and creative way. Sending a video message helps convey more of my personality than can come through in an email and adds a more human element to the conversion. – Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

 

6. Offer to Help Your Investors

Keep the conversation going with investors by looking for ways that you can actually help them. Investors won’t usually expect this type of behavior, and it fosters a much better relationship than if you follow up just to hound them for an investment in your company. Before asking for an individual to invest in you, put forth a helping effort to show them you are worth investing in. – Arian RadmandTurnGram 

 

7. Always Determine the Next Step

To keep the conversation going, you need a reason to follow up. Ask, “What would our next step be?” If they say they’ll get back to you, offer to follow up in a week if you don’t hear from them. If the investor asks you to send over some financial projections or market research, get on it right away. Keep up that momentum until you get the term sheet! – David CiccarelliVoices.com 

 

8. Be Nice

Investors are people, too. They want to invest in entrepreneurs almost as much as they do in companies. Be kind and gentle to investors, even if they do not respond in kind. If you are turned down by a fund, don’t be belligerent or resentful. Instead, be grateful and thank them for the opportunity. You never know when they have a portfolio company that is looking for something like you have. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

9. Send Updates on Progress

Share the progress you’ve made in an email update that shows quantitative progress when it’s made. The focus on results is an excuse to contact them while illustrating your value and worth if they were to invest in your startup. – Angela RuthDue 

 

 

10. Be Emphatic, Not Desperate

Being energetic, motivated and positive about your company and its goals can keep an investor engaged. Be careful, however, to keep the dialogue emphatic, rather than desperate. It can be very easy to go off-rails and start coming off as an owner who is in need, rather than one who wants support and a true partnership. Neediness is not an attractive quality to an investor. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

 

11. Connect at Networking Events

While you don’t want to stalk your potential investors, you can find out where they will be and participate in those events to get more face time away from presenting and pitching. This can stimulate further discussion. – Zach BinderRanklab 

 

 

12. Plan Out a Series of Announcements to Send

You pitched a new investor — now it’s time to keep them hooked by showing them momentum, even after your initial chat. Before you work to raise funding, develop a month-by-month plan with a series of announcements — whether it be ARR growth, customer additions or product expansions — that can show company momentum and act as a touchpoint to keep those conversations going after the pitch. – Stan GarberScout RFP 

 

13. Tell Them What They Want to Know

If an investor is interested in your company, you don’t need to keep the conversation going because they will stay actively engaged. If an investor isn’t really sold on what you’re doing but is close, you need to leave the pitch meeting with a solid grasp of the one milestone the investor cares about. Hold off on updates until you can tell them you have blown past the milestone in record time. – Jacob ChapmanGelt Venture Capital 

17 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Business 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.

What one tip should entrepreneurs keep in mind when seeking out a business advisor?

 

1. Prioritize Experience Over Academic Credentials

Academic credentials are valuable shortcuts to judging someone’s capability. But when building a team to support and help them grow a company, experience trumps credentials every time. Someone who’s built or worked at a company before will have encountered many of the immediate issues you’re likely to encounter. Their experience can help you avoid issues in the first place. – Brennan WhiteCortex 

 

2. Leverage Your Company’s Equity

The best business advisors are extremely busy. Be prepared to offer them 0.1 to 0.5 percent of your company’s equity, depending on how much time they will be investing in your company and how big of a rockstar they are. Then have that equity vest over time to keep the business advisor incentivized to keep on adding value to you and your company. – Doug BendBend Law Group, PC 

 

3. Know Your Own Style

Are you a person who responds to suggestions or a person who responds to straight talk? Your advisor should advise in a way that works for your own personal style. If you need straight talk and your advisor gives gentle suggestions, you will not get as much out of the relationship. If you need suggestions and nudges and your advisor “beats you down,” you will not benefit. – Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design 

 

4. Aim for Someone With Questions, Not Answers

Rather than seeking someone who is going to fix your problems for you, look for someone who can ask deep, probing questions to help you reflect on your own situation. You want someone who can inspire you to solve your own problems by getting you to understand yourself better. Thinking you’ll find a sage with all the answers to your business’ issues is a fallacy. – Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark 

 

5. Find Someone Willing to Help

The most important aspect of an advisor is how much time they’re willing to devote to helping you. It doesn’t do any good to have a mentor who doesn’t answer emails or pick up the phone when you call. Before selecting an advisor, make sure they’re willing and able to give you the availability you need. – Arian RadmandTurnGram 

 

 

6. Get Referrals

Go with business advisors who have been referred to you by others, because you can use their experience to shape your own expectations and potential results. This also provides a way to validate that the advisor has a proven track record and is credible for helping you. – Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

 

7. Make Sure Your Priorities Align

A business advisor model should mirror a mentor. Your priorities should align or be complementary. For example, if you have children and your business advisor is single, they may not factor certain amounts of time that necessarily must go to your family. – Matthew CapalaSearch Decoder 

 

 

8. Take Their Advice With a Grain of Salt

The best business advisors realize that their own experience doesn’t necessarily translate directly to new businesses. You’ll come across advisors who have had success, but who lack the flexibility to analyze each business as a unique situation. Listen to what they have to say, but don’t follow their advice slavishly. Think for yourself. – Vik PatelFuture Hosting 

 

9. Find Someone Who Has Done What You Want to Do

Find a business advisor who already has successful experience doing what you want to do. Looking for an advisor who has closed a major round of funding? Make sure your coach has done so before hiring them. Looking for someone who has hired top-tier talent? Check that yours has done so beforehand. Experience is the best indicator. They might cost more, but you’ll get the results you want – faster. – Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc. 

 

10. Look for a True Advisor, Not a Parent

Advisors and mentors can be unbelievably beneficial to your long-term growth and can assist you in overcoming challenges that you may run into on your entrepreneurial journey. However, be careful to seek out and adopt an advisor and not a parent. Be responsible for your own actions; seek guidance, but don’t rely on your advisor to hold your hand or make decisions for you. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

 

11. Find Someone Who Really Cares

There are hundreds if not thousands of potential advisors for every business endeavor you can imagine. But the key to success with an advisor is finding someone who really cares about you and what you are trying to create. If your advisor has a personal connection to you and your goals, they are much more likely to go above and beyond and deliver far more than the minimum. – Beth DoaneMain & Rose 

 

12. Join a Network for Entrepreneurs

I have joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) to find business advisors. It is a very good professional group of entrepreneurs from various domains who provide business advice on various topics. It is like building a small board for your company. You are not tied to one advisor, and multiple people will give you input. You can join EO or any other similar group to get the advice to grow your business. – Piyush JainSIMpalm 

 

13. Consider Their Reputation

What are people saying about them? Do they have good reviews and a good reputation? Do they have client testimonials and case studies to back up their claims? Also, what types of businesses have they helped in the past? Are any of them similar to yours? – Ismael WrixenFE International 

 

 

14. Find Strengths That Counter Your Weaknesses

You want to find someone who understands your world, has been there and brings strength to the table where you may have a weakness. Your advisor should make a positive, noticeable impact on your business. Look for a wealth of experience that will mesh well with your team and mission. – Abhilash PatelAbhilash.co 

 

 

15. Look Within Your Market

Just because you find a person with lots of business experience doesn’t mean they are the right advisor for your business. Finding an advisor in your specific space will serve not only with practical information but potentially connections that could help you grow your market share, too. Experts who already know your space can bring more value than others who are not familiar with your product. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

16. Match Your Advisor to the Stage of Your Company’s Growth

When looking for a business advisor, it is important to keep in mind your current company state and where you want it to be in the foreseeable future. Different advisors can be helpful at different stages of your business’ life. Those who are best for early growth companies might not work for established mid-market companies that want to go public. – Andrey KudievskiyDistillery 

 

17. Find Your ‘Fairy Godparent’

Every super successful entrepreneur has a “fairy godparent” advisor in the early days of their success. Mark Zuckerberg had Peter Theil and Sean Parker. Travis Kalenick had Bill Gurley. This advisor is the person you simultaneously use as a sounding board for all of your major ideas, and also expect to help you fundraise, build sales, and execute on your growth strategy. – Paul GrossingerGaingels 

15 Tech Pairings to Create the Ultimate User Experience

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.

Airbnb recently integrated reservation service, Resy, into its platform to enhance user experience. If you could choose to merge any two technology-based services or products, which would you choose and how would they work together to create the ultimate UX?

 

1. Wikipedia and a News Application

I would love to see a news app, such as BBC or CNN, merge with Wikipedia. Since the majority of people use their phones to access the news, the UX isn’t conducive to looking up people/places/facts while reading. However, if one of the apps integrated with Wikipedia, they could institute some scroll over/popup that would pop out of the content if the reader wanted more information. Bryce Welker, Crush The CPA Exam

2. Clothing Sizing App and Shopping Marketplace

I love having a clothing sizing app that tells me what fits me in different styles and brands, but it would be even better if this integrated with some type of marketplace like Bluefly, Amazon and other online clothing stores. Even better would be to show me how it looked on me before I ordered. If a drone delivered it, even better. Angela Ruth, Due

 

3. Zapier and Google Cloud Platform

I’ve used Zapier‘s SaaS integration service for many years now and also hosted several servers on Google Cloud Platform. I’d love the ability to orchestrate event-driven, cross-product workflows within Google’s Cloud Console. There would be far more incentive to leverage the cloud functions, machine-learning engine, code deployment, etc. if I could easily sequence them with a Zapier-esque UI. Brian Fritton, Patch of Land

4. Facebook and Amazon

Building buyer confidence is a key factor for Amazon sellers. Amazon and its sellers rely heavily on social proof by way of product reviews. Amazon should share its data with Facebook to build social proof around its items with suggestions such as “Two Facebook friends bought this product.” Without sharing private details, Amazon could let you know when your network buys a product. Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

5. Uber and Expedia

Whenever I travel, I find myself using Uber and Expedia on almost every trip. No one has nailed the travel experience from start to finish. I’d love it if I could simply start with my home address, enter my travel destination, and have the entire thing packaged together. That way, every part of your trip would be taken care of and automatically updated on late/early flight arrivals. Ruben Gamez, Docsketch

 

6. LinkedIn and AR Application

It would be amazing to meet someone and instantly connect with them on LinkedIn. No more business cards or jotting down emails. You can instantly see their biography and mutual connections. Google is working on an augmented reality (AR) app that lets you tag things in real life — this would be a great feature to have.

Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS


7. eBay and PayPal

If eBay and PayPal merged to where consumers had to actually pay for items before purchasing them, it would make it a lot easier for sellers to collect money, and buyers could complete purchases and transactions in one step instead of two.Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

 

8. Evernote and Instacart

I love a great culinary experience, whether at a restaurant or at home. If I could go to dinner and scan my favorite menu items into Evernote and have it automatically create a grocery list on Instacart for me to replicate that dish, I’d be thrilled. Instacart, being the more complex app, could handle the back-end operations, while Evernote would focus on the functionality of simplicity. David Bensoussan, StartHub Accelerator


9. LinkedIn and Crowdfunding

There’s obviously quite a bit of overlap between LinkedIn members and people who set up crowdfunding campaigns, especially on business-centered platforms such as AngelList. While there are ways to integrate LinkedIn with crowdfunding platforms, it would be even better if LinkedIn actually partnered with an existing crowdfunding site or launched one of its own. Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

 

10. VR Tours and Travel Bookings

I would love to have high-quality virtual reality tours of locations and destinations integrated with travel itinerary planning and booking. When you have a customer that wants to see their dream destination, you can show them an interactive VR tour. That’s such a great service for the customer, to be able to give them a taste of what it’s like so they know they’ve made the right choice. Jürgen Himmelmann, The Global Work & Travel Co.

11. HubSpot and Postable

We love HubSpot for its simple CRM and email tracking. Separately, Postable is a lovely platform from where we can “handwrite” and auto-send thoughtful, snail-mail cards. It’d be fantastic if we could pull our clients’ birthdays and work events from the Facebook and LinkedIn APIs and automatically deliver appropriate cards to our clients. Perfect combo to surprise and delight!Cooper Harris, Klickly


12. Uber and OpenTable

In a perfect world, I would merge OpenTable with Uber. If at least there was a funnel option and ride ahead at the checkout of OpenTable, it would make a great deal of sense on a date to be able to plan it door-to-door. The amount of money spent on dating apps should meet the demand of on-demand dates. OpenTable combined with Uber could really simplify planning for a man or woman. Matthew Capala, Search Decoder

 

13. Groupon and Tinder

A dating app that combines Tinder‘s matchmaking services with Groupon’s discounts for local venues/outings. This would be a great way to promote small and medium-sized businesses, establish repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing. (Think about the “how we met while Airbnb’ing” stories.) The idea would be to use Tinder’s interface and, once matched, coupons will be made available for venues geared toward first dates. Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

14. Google Docs and Grammarly

My team and I collaborate on a majority of projects and utilize Google Docs to do so. It’s a great way for everyone to stay on the same page and organize our work. The only feature it’s missing is an advanced spelling and grammar application such as Grammarly. This would be an amazing integration of two different apps because we could do all our work in one place and check it there as well. Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

 

15. The iPhone and All Home Appliances

I think being able to control your whole home with your phone should be entirely possible. Music, lights, TV, oven, microwave, garage door, AC, security system, your kids’ phones, maybe even your car! It seems crazy how many remote controls are still around. Shouldn’t these be gone by now? Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

12 Things All Business Owners Should Know About the Net Neutrality U-Turn

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.

The FCC is considering a plan to reverse Obama’s 2015 net neutrality order. What one thing should all business owners know about net neutrality and how this could affect entrepreneurs?

 

1. Sometimes it’s all about money.

Without net neutrality, the internet will be an unequal playing field for big and small online businesses, with big businesses clearly having the advantage. It’s unfair for internet companies to accept money from companies that are able to hand over large payments and shut out small businesses in the process. This affects entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of money to give. Zev Herman, Superior Lighting

 

2. It can be harder for startups to gain momentum.

If net neutrality is gone, it will be much harder for startups that are bootstrapping to gain momentum online. Ultimately, it will come down to who holds financial power. I believe the main tenets of good business won’t change. You will always need to have a strong product needed by the market, but it will be much harder for new businesses to hack their growth formula. Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

 

3. You might get new partners.

I don’t think many of us disagree that this was a bad decision. As far as living with it, we’re going to have to be prepared to build relationships with companies that provide these connections. They’ll likely be working with their own content and ad platforms if they aren’t already, and we need to be paying attention and making decisions about which one is the best funnel to our market.Adam Steele, The Magistrate

 

4. Marketing costs will increase.

By losing net neutrality, entrepreneurs should expect their marketing fees to increase. In particular, because marketing today increasingly involves video and other bandwidth-hogging material, internet service providers (ISPs) will start billing for this higher use of their services. By allowing ISPs to decide who they can bill for their use and discriminate based on volume, businesses should expect a new bill. Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

 

5. SEO may become impractical for smaller companies.

Net neutrality, at least in theory, gives everyone equal access to the internet. If this is no longer enforced, it will favor larger companies who will be able to dominate the search engines. This may compel smaller businesses to rely more on paid advertising as they won’t be able to compete using SEO. However, this has been happening anyway over the last few years. Shawn Porat, Scorely

 

6. It’s about discrimination.

Net neutrality prevents web discrimination. For entrepreneurs, this means that the internet is a fair playing field. If net neutrality is abolished, it can put smaller startups at a disadvantage to established players with deep resources. What makes the internet an amazing place for entrepreneurs is that the biggest websites and the smallest are currently treated equally. Gregory Raiz, Raizlabs

 

7. You may have to pay a fee.

If you sell or market a lot online, you might want to begin investigating offline methods for advertising or generating sales. If the order is overturned in part or as a whole, you could possibly have to pay a significant fee so your customers can use your website at high speed. Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

 

 

8. The reversal will stifle innovation.

Reversing the order will stifle innovation and entrepreneurship by reducing competition and giving more control to incumbent corporations. Entrepreneurs can make their voices heard by joining non-profits, industry coalitions, PACs, and events to oppose the change. Check out Engine, a network of startups and innovators, and the internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality on July 12, 2017. Erik Bullen, MageMail

  

9. We’ll have limited access to information.

Without net neutrality, we don’t have access to all information that’s available on the internet, plain and simple. If this ever comes to fruition, we’ll all need to ensure we have access to the best sources of information possible. If you’re doing all your research on the internet, that may not be the most reliable source anymore.  Ismael Wrixen, FE International

 

  

10. Net neutrality limits opportunities.

On the surface, net neutrality may seem like a good idea. However, it actually throttles the incentive to invest in new bandwidth and limits opportunities for entrepreneurs. By allowing network providers to control how bandwidth is priced, startups could be charged at lower rates, allowing them to enter competitive markets, and niche applications that require special bandwidth could be created. Peter Bonac, Bonac Innovation Corp.

 

  

11. It will make the internet a luxury.

In the digital age, the internet is as necessary to the well-being of our citizens as any other utility. If the FCC reverses net neutrality, it means that the government’s official stance will be that the internet is a luxury, not a utility. No one buys that. The only ones who pretend to believe that also get wheelbarrows full of campaign contributions from Comcast, et al. Coincidence? Tim Chaves, ZipBooks

 

 

12. Don’t rely on organic search traffic.

If net neutrality is reversed, small companies that have worked hard on their SEO and rely on this free search traffic to generate a large portion of their revenue could be at the mercy of big corporations and in big trouble. With constant Google algorithm updates and the threat of reversing net neutrality, it’s more important than ever to have a reliable paid advertising strategy.

 

Scott Baxter, PlayYourCourse

11 Quick Ways to Further Your Education

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.

 

In what ways have you successfully furthered your education or training with minimal time?

1. Listen to audiobooks. Every morning when I cook breakfast and get ready to go to our office, I listen to an audiobook on some aspect of business that can improve my ability to be an effective CEO. I love it because I don’t lose any time since I can get mundane tasks done at the same time. Pro tip: You can listen to books at 1.5 to 2 times the speed so you can get more information in less time.- Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

 

2. Block off learning times each week. I block off one afternoon per week for reading. This is my opportunity to learn about trends or new topics that could help further my business. I’ve found that this type of informal education has been the most valuable to me. Having a consistent chunk of time where I can go deep has made concepts more sticky, and has enabled me to come up with some big ideas.- Diana GoodwinAquaMobile 

 

3. Attend virtual conferences. 

There is a slew of new virtual conferences that don’t require travel time and logistics. They are structured similar to regular conferences, with keynotes, workshops and panels, just with all content online. They are typically lower in cost and can deliver content as good as in-person ones, especially since you can jump out of a boring virtual session easily.

– Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS 

 

4. Take part in panel discussions. 

There is always a lot of new information to take away from panel discussions at conferences. Whether I am participating in them or simply taking it in as a viewer, hearing the top experts in a field share their stories and experiences has aided in my growth.

– Renato LibricBouxtie Inc 

 

5. Spend more time reading daily. 

The best way to learn is by reading and using your time wisely to do so. I think to some extent we are all guilty of spending unnecessary time on social media and don’t realize the time we spend on it. I’d rather use my time efficiently and learn more about my industry. After forming this habit, I was amazed at how much knowledge I was gaining.

– Russell KommereSoftware Associates Inc 

 

6. Surround yourself with the right people. 

“You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” Be intentional about who those people are so that you’re learning and growing together. I’ve gotten my “MBA on the streets” through a number of piecemeal efforts, most of which stems back to being surrounded by the right people (they’re the ones who suggest the right conferences, books, tools and insights).

– Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 

 

7. Minimize searching for new content. 

There’s always the next best business book to read. I found myself spending hours a month researching the next book to read versus actually reading. I stick with one author and try to digest everything they’ve written. This month, it’s Simon Sinek. When searching for the next book or interview to consume, I listen for the people he references and buy those books.

– Krish ChopraUnited Medical Rotations 

 

8. Take courses online. 

Websites like lynda.com and udemy.com offer thousands of online courses you can take in your spare time. It’s a great way to learn new skills and further my education without committing to a strict and demanding schedule. I like to offer these courses to my employees, as well.

– Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc. 

 

9. Listen to podcasts. 

Podcasts are a great way to further your education while optimizing your time during lulls in your day like your commute to work. Some podcasts, like Tim Ferriss, can seem overwhelming due to their longer length format. However, there are shorter casts such as On Being, which only lasts 50 minutes. Both podcasts include interviews with world-class entrepreneurs, philosophers and thought leaders.

– Kim KaupeZinePak 

 

10. Participate in entrepreneur Slack channels. 

I’ve explored and joined quite a few entrepreneur-based Slack channels (I’ve also created one). Visiting these channels in the day takes very little time, but offers big benefits as far as instant access to opinions and experience. I like to drop by when I have a free moment to ask a question or to see what today’s big discussion is. It’s easy to jump in and give it more time if needed.

– Adam SteeleThe Magistrate 

 

11. Buy videos from conferences. 

Twice I have saved myself a ton of time (and money for flights and hotel stays) by buying the videos from conferences that I wanted to attend and just did not have time to go to in person. There was also the added benefit of being able to watch the videos on my own time (and watch them more than once). This may only be an option if you have attended the conference in person previously.

– Kevin ConnerVast Bridges 

10 Tips for Purchasing an Existing Domain

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.

 

Purchasing a domain from someone else can be tricky. What one tip can you provide for a smooth transition?

 

1. Look into the history of the domain name. 

Great domain names come with history and that’s not always a good thing. Look into the domain from a search engine optimization perspective and hire an expert if necessary. How many websites link to this domain determines how well Google will show it in their search results. You may also find tens of thousands of spammy links that may get your new website penalized down the line.

– Karl KangurMRR Media 

 

2. Email the seller from another account. 

Anytime you buy a domain name, the seller will always look you up first. You better believe that if you have a business and they see dollar signs, the price instantly goes up. I always send the initial email from “another” email address with a different name. It separates the initial price jack from the beginning.

– Chris BrissonSalesmsg 

 

3. Ask about use.

Find out from the seller about how they used it and if there is anything they can tell you that will help you build it out. It makes the transition smooth because there is a better understanding of how it was used.

– Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media 

 

4. Look into leasing the site first. 

We worked on a new idea a few years ago and wanted to buy a specific domain. Before we got into the discussions of a very high dollar amount, we built a contract with the partner to lease the domain. Working with them on a contract, as well as seeing the transfer go through smoothly, gave us the ultimate confidence that we could buy this domain and trust that there would be no funny business!

– Aaron SchwartzModify Watches 

 

5. Let a business broker facilitate the transaction. 

If you are buying an existing online business, make sure you use a competent business broker (like digitalexits.com) to facilitate the valuation, transaction, and purchase agreement. If you are just buying an existing domain and not a whole business, make sure to check any IP — like trademarks or copyrights — so that there are no conflicts. Check that the domain wasn’t ever blacklisted anywhere.

– Austin FeltonEntrecloud 

 

6. Use a third party to prevent fraud. 

I always use Escrow.com, which acts as a third party between the buyer and seller, in order to make sure that the domain is properly transferred over to the buyer and the agreed upon amount is received by the seller. Especially when dealing with large amounts of money and someone you don’t know, a third-party service provides peace of mind.

– Diana GoodwinAquaMobile 

 

7. Work with an attorney to avoid surprise liabilities. 

Be sure to work with an attorney so the purchase agreement is clear that you are not responsible for any potential debts or liabilities from before you take over the domain. The last thing you want to buy are any outstanding legal disputes involving the domain.

– Doug BendBend Law Group, PC 

 

8. Have a written agreement. 

Any sale should have a contract or agreement form that formalizes the process and provides protection from any type of fraudulent activity. At least you then have a basis for any legal action, should it come to that.

– Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

9. Make sure the business, not an individual, owns the domain afterward. 

Of course, you should use escrow to make sure you get what you pay for, but the number one domain-buying error startups make is to allow an employee or partner to register the domain in their name. It’s expensive, and likely futile, to attempt to have a domain reassigned if relationships go south. If you’re going to invest in building a brand around a domain, make sure it’s under your control.

– Vik PatelFuture Hosting 

 

10. Be prepared to walk away.

Many domain owners ask for ridiculous amounts of money for a domain they know a company wants, but however much you might like a domain, it’s not worth busting the bank for. A “.com” is nice to have, but in an era of thousands of generic top-level domains, it’s not going to make a massive difference to the success of your business.

– Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc. 

10 Ways to Make Your ROI More Measurable

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.

Some customer service ROI figures are too broad and unusable. What’s one way to make it small, measurable and impactful?

 

1. Start with a Net Promoter Score.

The Net Promoter Score is a very easy way to measure customer satisfaction. Customers can rate their likeliness to recommend a company on a 1-to-10 score. It’s very easy to implement and there are public benchmarks for every industry. An NPS tracked over time lets a customer service team and the company see how they are performing over time, as well as whether any changes have a positive impact.

– Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS 

 

2. Look to retention and growth.

Every interaction holds an opportunity to understand the impact of customer success. The most important will always be retention and growth, but every interaction holds the opportunity to understand the impact of customer success or service. CSAT surveys after any significant interaction give you the opportunity to get a pulse on your customer and respond to their feedback. Trends will emerge and you can adjust quickly ahead of the lagging indicators of retention and growth.

– Kristine SteuartAllocadia 

 

3. Segment the ROI data.

All ROI data is broad until you segment your clients by certain parameters. Examples of some could be age, area, referrals, clients who purchased within the year, ones who didn’t and so on. Once you start segmenting the data, those broad numbers become laser focused, which will give you the most impactful data needed.

– Raymond KishkInterstate Air Conditioning & Heating 

 

4. Focus on the biggest failures.

Don’t get overwhelmed by too much data. Instead, focus on the area where you know that you’re having the most problems and use the data to look for specific insights that might help you solve your problems. For example, how long it takes for customers to hear back on an issue they’ve complained about, or how satisfied they are that their problem was solved via a customer service call.

– Adam SteeleThe Magistrate 

 

5. Tie it directly to a KPI.

Customer service is about satisfaction and problem-solving. Train your people to be able to set specific objectives for the ideal result of a customer service interaction. Track those ideal outcomes as KPIs. Then you will be able to convince clients or upper management about the significance of such measures.

– Duran InciOptimum7 

 

6. Let the CEO answer some calls.

Identifying value in customer service requires everyone getting involved. Being in the trenches provides unusual insight into what customers are saying about your company. Identifying the best return on your customer service dollars will become more evident when the CEO gets to answer calls. Armed with real customer experiences, your team will be able to identify the best ROI opportunities.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

7. Choose one area to study.

Pick one area of customer service, such as timely responses, and measure that to see if the tactics implemented have made improvements or more needs to be done. Too many companies generalize customer service and do not segment these based on response time, assistance level or customer return rate, for example.

– John RamptonDue 

 

8. Call a few customers each month.

There are plenty of systems out there that harvest and harness reviews from customers. While these services are vital, to truly find out if your customer service is generating ROI, pick up the phone and call a few customers each month and actually speak with them. Not only will you see what is working, you will build an amazing level of loyalty to your brand.

– Ryan BradleyKoester & Bradley, LLP 

 

9. Ask users specific questions in polls.

Get customer reviews, but make sure they aren’t broad questions. Don’t ask “Are you satisfied with our service?,” but instead ask, “Are you satisfied with the way X product has improved X part of your life?” Be as specific as possible and target a specific audience. Change your questions and ask on a regular schedule. That way, you can track and use the results in advertising, etc.

– Kevin ConnerVast Bridges 

 

10. Measure real results.

As is the case with most metrics, the numbers aren’t always telling the full story. Oftentimes, you’ll find there is a lot of unsubstantiated claims being made about the accuracy of ROI data, and so it’s important to sift through the false data and dig into the real results. If something seems difficult to quantify or prove, it likely is and should be ignored.

– Blair ThomasFirst American Merchant

15 Ways to Keep Customer Conversations Productive

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 technique to keep conversations with your customers productive and positive?

 

1. Be an active listener.

It’s not just important to effectively listen to your customers. You should strive to demonstrate to them that you have heard what they are trying to say. By often repeating a section of their comment or question back to them, you clearly demonstrate that you are following their thought process and not simply waiting to interject your own.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

2. Share good news.

We are highly consultative, so results are not achieved overnight. I’m a firm believer in telling my clients what they need to hear versus what they want to hear. I also understand that they are paying me for a service, so it’s important to share good news with them anytime it’s available, no matter how small it is.

– Duran InciOptimum7 

 

3. Put your customers’ needs first.

Many businesses want to sell the customer a product or service at any cost, whether it’s in their best interest or not. Putting your customers’ needs first means only selling them something that they’ll really benefit from. In the long run, this keeps your customers happy and improves your reputation. You don’t have to make everyone your customer. Focus on those you can really help.

– Kalin KassabovProTexting 

 

4. Remember that the customer is always right.

It can be trying at times to maintain a positive attitude when speaking with difficult customers, but remember that just as you are a pro in your field, they are a pro at what they do as well. At the end of the day, the customer is always right and you’re there to make their lives easier with your product or service.

– Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production 

 

5. Empathize and then move forward.

Customers are people and have bad days just like the rest of us. Listen to their feedback, let them finish, then empathize and move the conversation in a more positive direction, focusing on where you can help fix their problem or how you can use their feedback to improve your products or services.

– Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design 

 

6. Imagine you’re speaking to a friend.

A strategy we use at our company when we are faced with difficult interactions with customers is to imagine that we are speaking to a friend. We treat friends with respect and value what we will get out of them long-term. This behavior sets you up for positive and productive interactions with your customers. This way you will have a guiding behavior that can be extended through your organization.

– Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

7. Prepare alternatives.

Be extremely detail-oriented, empathetic and understanding. Try to see things from the client’s perspective, but also envision all possible outcomes of every situation ahead of time. If for any reason you have to deliver bad news, be sure to have other comparable options and solutions ready to present at the same time, rather than just saying you can’t deliver on a certain request.

– Justin LefkovitchMirrored Media 

 

8. Don’t make them feel like a number.

A good company actually helps their customers and doesn’t just look at people as financial opportunities. Using words like “product,” “transaction” and “value” will make a person feel like just a line on a profit and loss sheet. Remember that you should be offering a helpful, worthwhile service in exchange for their money and time, and your tone and vocabulary should reflect that.

– Roger LeeCaptain401 

 

9. Talk about mutual benefits and achievements.

Focus the conversations on the mutual benefits and achievements to date. Also emphasize your interest in always seeking improvements, which is a good way to introduce the idea of “what can I do better” into the conversation without turning it into a negative.

– Murray NewlandsSighted 

 

10. Focus on their long-term goals.

To provide the best service to customers, your service needs to fit their long-term needs and not just the immediate ones they hired you for. They won’t always share this information when hiring your business, especially if it’s intended to be a short relationship. Figuring out their goals and talking honestly to them about how you could improve on them can build a basis for a long relationship.

– Matt DoyleExcel Builders 

 

11. Build a personal relationship.

Get to know your customers on a personal level. Building a real relationship is the best deterrent to customer issues and negativity. If customers feel as though they can reach you when needed to have a candid and honest conversation, they’re much less likely to get to the point where they’re truly unhappy.

– Kyle GoguenPawstruck 

 

12. Understand their intentions.

It’s important to know the difference between someone bringing up a legitimate concern and someone who is trying to stir up trouble. If your customer has good intentions, a productive and positive conversation should naturally flow. If someone is simply making comments just for the sake of it, chances of having a productive conversation are slim to none, so steer clear.

– Dave NevogtHubstaff.com 

 

13. Finish the conversation with a list of action items.

Finish the conversation with quick bullet points summarizing everything you discussed and all the action items moving forward. This will keep you focused during the conversation and convey to the customer that you heard everything they had to say and have a clear plan on what to do next.

– Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc. 

 

14. Ask about the future.

In the future, all things are possible. That’s not literally true, but I’ve found the best customer conversations focus on the future. Speak in the future tense about what you will do, how you will help, how your products provide value. Ask questions about what they want for the future and their goals. Don’t talk about what you have done or are doing. Talk about what you can do.

– Vik PatelFuture Hosting 

 

15. Choose to be helpful over being right.

Do you care more about being right? Or would you rather concede and keep your customer? There’s little you can gain by pointing out that a customer is wrong. When confronted with an argument, choose to feed your business and not your ego.

– Sam SaxtonParagon Stairs 

13 Side Jobs That Can Help Startup Founders Pay the Bills

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 are some ideas for making money on the side (that have worked for you) as you ramp up your startup?

1. Tap into the Gig Economy

With the gig economy on the rise there are multiple avenues on how to make some side cash. Working for companies like Uber or GrubHub, for instance, will bring in extra cash along with the flexibility of working when you want. I’ve picked up some cool gigs like bartending weddings, being an event captain at the BCS College Football Semi-final, and proofreading a start-up business plan.

Eddie LouShiftgig

 

2. Look into Online Freelancing

This works best if you already have technical skills. But there is still lots of freelancing work available, from web design and WordPress work, to social media and writing jobs.

Ismael WrixenFE International

 

3. Teach an Online Course

Teach others some of your unique skill sets or insights. Identify what you’re really good at and put together a course to help others get good at it too. It could be a skill to perform certain tasks better — such as Facebook ads, sewing, etc. — or it could be based on an insight that you’ve gained from your experience that most people are unlikely to know, such as how to get upgraded in first class.

Rahul VarshneyaArkenea

 

4. Do Consulting Work

Typically most entrepreneurs have at least one primary area of expertise, among other skills. Use this area of expertise to get small consulting contracts on Upwork, Craigslist, Freelancer.com, and through your own personal and professional networks. A few small consulting contracts can keep the money coming in without distracting you while you focus primarily on your new startup.

Andy KaruzaFenSens

 

5. Coordinate Valuable Events for People to Connect

When I was growing my first business in the credit card processing space, I started throwing monthly events to help people make friends and business contacts. I did it because I love to connect people and I know relationships are so important. I charged a nominal fee of -20 and then, by accident, started attracting sponsors and hundreds of people to each event. Six figures resulted on the side.

Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40

 

6. Use Google Ads

Google Ads don’t generate a ton of money, but it can be a consistent revenue resource. It can also be partnered with your small business website, so you can track and monitor it as you grow your business, making it easier to achieve modest success.

Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

 

7. Leverage Your Hobbies

I have put my hobbies to work to make money, selling items I make or repair on Craigslist and eBay, or through apps that let me market my hobby items to locals that might be interested in what I make. Anyone can do this with what they like to spend time doing, from photography and artwork to crafts and furniture.

Drew HendricksButtercup

 

8. Get A Door-to-Door Sales Job

We kept our jobs as door-to-door cable salesmen for 10 months after launch. While it was hardly a fun job, it allowed us to set our own schedules, which meant freedom to revolve our day jobs around our new business. It also gave us sufficient income to bootstrap without going into debt. Depending on the opportunity, door-to-door sales can be a great way to support yourself while taking the leap.

Jesse LearV.I.P. Waste Services, LLC

 

9. Stay Part-Time at Your Job

As you ramp up your startup company doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave your previous work or devote full-time effort. At the end of the day, you still have bills to pay. In my experience, I stayed on as a part-time contractor for the company I was employed, which helped me fund my personal needs and also a bit of the start up company.

Shalyn DeverChatter Buzz

 

10. Sell a Niche Product That’s in High Demand

Selling a commodity with a need that essentially sells itself is easier than you think! As an Internet marketer, I’ve discovered items no one ever thinks of selling, yet use on a daily basis. By finding a niche product and building an attractive website with precision optimization, you can build capital for your start-up easily.

Duran InciOptimum7

 

11. Participate in User Research

There are great opportunities to make money on the side by participating in user research and offering your experience to test a new product. Sites like Respondent.io and UserTesting.com can connect you with surveys and phone interviews that are relevant to your background that can have some serious payouts without too much of a time commitment.

Christopher SwenorEast Coast Product

 

12. Wait Tables

I’ve waited tables for many years while working on my early startup days. Being a waiter gives you the flexibility of working at odd hours, for short lengths of time and making good money. Making some extra cash on the side while you are starting a business will help reduce the level of stress while your business is not producing. Being a server affords you the flexibility to tend to your startup.

Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

 

13. Create Affiliate Marketing

I have been doing affiliate marketing, so I realize that you can make good money with it. If you have a passion for generating content or advertising, it is a no-brainer. Pick a niche that you enjoy writing or making videos about, and make a blog or social media page centered around it. You will be surprised how quickly and easily you can make some good extra money.

Scott KacmarskiReps Direct

How to Bolster Your Brand Influence in 2017

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 are some key ways to bolster your online brand’s influence in 2017?

1. Tell Original Stories

Businesses that conduct original research and investigate interesting topics in their niche will have a powerful advantage in 2017. That’s because everyone remembers a good story. So, to bolster your brand’s online influence, you should invest in in-depth storytelling to educate and surprise your audience with new information, backed by data, unique anecdotes and hard facts.

Firas KittanehAmerisleep

 

2. Post About Successes and Failures

 Post about your successes and your failures. People are just as apt to click on something to find out what not to do as they are on a success story. Another crucial key is to start sending the ladder back down. Are you actively trying to promote new voices? Show points of view that may differ from your own? That’s how to make it to the top.

Maren HoganRed Branch Media

 

3. Gather Data

 In a world where most of your influence and marketing are digital, you need to be gathering data to optimize. Figure out which messages resonate with which demographics, which platforms are best at which times of day, and what kinds of visual content have the biggest impact. Make better underlying decisions to have a better overall outcome.

Brennan WhiteCortex

 

4. Optimize for Search Engines

I expect SEO to continue to be an even stronger channel for many of the top brands in 2017. Nailing the basics will bolster brands online presence and, in turn, their influence. By publishing great content — eg; thought leadership, Q&As and data-centered pieces — customers will naturally gravitate towards your brand more and more. And, thankfully, Google will reward you for it.

Corey EulasFactorial Digital

 

5. Create Collaborative Content

 Partner with complimentary brands in a collaborative article to boost each other’s traffic and influence. Create a piece of content, whether it be a contest or an article that spotlights actionable tips for the readers. Each brand shares the content to their subscribers and followers. Everyone benefits by gaining exposure to each others followers, gaining traffic and broader influence.

Aggie BurnettAB Creative

 

6. Cater to Your Core

 First of all, you have to cater to your core customers. If you are developing an app geared toward millennials or teens who are often on Facebook and Instagram, then LinkedIn is probably not your best platform. You have to be knowledgeable about who and where your core audience is, and then you need to increase your ability to capture that audience by using the right social media outlets.

Fabio VivianiFabio Viviani Hospitality LLC,

 

7. Tap into Immersive Experiences

 With innovative technologies like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear and Pokemon GO, virtual reality and augmented reality should be on every brand’s radar for 2017. Clients all want in on the action of the next best thing, so positioning your company as an early adopter of AR or VR will help you stay relevant. Not to mention AR and VR are popular on social media, and make for great content marketing.

Robert De Los SantosSky High Party Rentals

 

8. Speak at Conferences

 Speaking at popular conferences is huge in two ways. You establish your brand and expertise with your peers and potential leads in the audience. And, perhaps even more importantly, video of your presentation will be uploaded to YouTube. This video will be publicized via the conference organizer’s social media channels, and, if you’re lucky, by attendees who were impressed by what you said.

Vik PatelFuture Hosting

 

9. Produce Videos

 Producing creative videos — whether it’s informative, for a product, or pure entertainment — will definitely capture the attention of more browsers than text, even those with big, colorful letters! Don’t overthink the video. Just focus on the objective, keep it simple and, most importantly, produce a quality production. Unless it’s breaking news, steer clear of phone video.

Duran InciOptimum7

 

10. Establish Yourself Through Podcasts

 Podcasts can be a great branding tool. Whether you have your own podcast or you appear as a guest on one, it’s a growing trend in building your brand’s digital influence. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs starting out to establish themselves as thought leaders and experts in their field.

Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc.

 

11. Develop an Influencer Network

 When I started reaching out to influencers, I was shocked to discover how accessible and friendly they were. Reaching out to influencers and developing relationships has directly led me to guest blogging opportunities, critical introductions, and even to having my own Inc. column. None of those would have been possible without some old fashioned, strategic networking.

Peter KozodoyGEM Advertising

 

12. Budget for It

Set aside a budget to use on digital promotion. More and more sites are adhering to the “pay for play” model, so it’s important to not get left behind due to a lack of proper budgeting.

Leila LewisBe Inspired PR

 

 

13. Spotlight Customers

 Something I recently started for my business is taking the spotlight off of us and putting it instead on our customers. We really want to show potential clients what we can do, and we are doing this by illustrating what we have done. We turn the attention on one client each month in our “Customer Spotlight” series, and showcase how our business is benefiting the client for years to come.

Zev HermanSuperior Lighting

 

14. Write a Book

 The most powerful way to build your brand’s influence is to help educate and empower your potential customers. Many companies do this through thought leadership articles and speeches, but today, nothing has more power than a book. Even in the internet age, there is no other medium that displays authority, impacts and influences others, and spreads a message the way that a book does.

Zach ObrontBook in a Box