What Is an Economic Moat?

The term economic moat, coined and popularized by Warren Buffett, refers to a business ability to maintain competitive advantages over its competitors in order to protect its long-term profits and market share from competing firms. Imagine McDonald’s without cost, convenience and golden arches, Nike without technological and trademarked innovation, or Amazon without its timely customer service innovations. They would be relatively unpopular companies struggling to survive in their respective industries. Business mogul, Warren Buffet has introduced the world to many of his lifelong lessons over the decades. One of the lessons that seems to have stayed relevant throughout the years is related to the coined term, “economic moat”.

As the age-old saying goes: Being the best is great because you’re number one, but being unique is greater because you’re the only one. Buffet has explained the importance of economic moats specifically when describing his investment strategy. His strategy centers on companies with strong economic moats, as they are more likely to withstand their competitors, and remain successful and unique. A company having a competitive advantage that further differentiates it from the competition will help through the highs and lows of operating a business. In its most basic form, a company without an economic moat is like a movie without an engaging hero, or storyline. In such a situation, there would be no way of creating a loyal consumer following, and subsequently no way of overcoming challenges that arise over time. On the other end of the spectrum, companies with competitive advantages can be threatened by competitors who replicate their methods. Establishing economic moats can therefore help companies protect long-term profits.

Thankfully for today’s business leaders, Buffet didn’t simply coin a theory-based term that required a bunch of scholarly analysis. The concept of building economic moats is a tangible one that can be leveraged through different business strategies. For instance, economic moats can be achieved in five ways: cost advantages, the network effect, high customer switching cost, efficient scale and intangible assets. The way you choose to build your economic moats all depends on the nature of your business. Think about what would be a good fit for the strategy you plan to execute. Buffet emphasizes the economic moat as an institution. It is not the mere elements that customers will like. Companies that build moats carve them around their businesses to keep competitors at bay. For instance, people loved Coca-Cola 50 years ago, and it’s fair to assume that they will 50 years from now. This is because Coca-Cola utilized the five sources of economic moats in order to create a loyal consumer base.

Let’s use the example of low-cost advantage. Suppose you have decided to make your fortune by running a lemonade stand. If you buy lemons in bulk once a week instead of every morning, you can reduce your expenses by 30%. This allows you to undercut prices of competing lemonade stands. While profits would increase, it wouldn’t take long for competitors to notice your method and replicate it. However, suppose you develop and patent a juicing technology. This technology would allow you to get 30% more juice out of the average lemon. This time, it would be a lot more difficult for the competition to duplicate. In this example, your economic moat is the patent that you hold on your proprietary technology.

The nature of capitalism is that others will want to come in and take what you have built. The goal for every business should be to build a durable fort around its castle.  The goal is to protect it from any attack that would come from the competition. Sometimes an economic moat is having more talent, other times it’s establishing legally protected patents. Just remember to remain patient. You should stay persistent because it may even take a few tries until you get your strategy right.

 

PME Mentor: David Horowitz

As the saying goes, the best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people. Mentorship is an essential part of the PME Program. On this 18th anniversary, it would only be appropriate to give thanks to our mentors. We may not have all the answers, but what we can do is introduce you to someone who does. We recently got the chance to catch up with our longtime mentor, David Horowitz. David is a seasoned executive always interested in promoting entrepreneurship and international business. With over 30 years at Senior Management level, involved in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution, David wishes to pass on his knowledge gained from 10 years of teaching experience to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Q: What aspects of mentorship do you enjoy most?
A: Gaining the intrinsic rewards of helping others. When you decide to mentor someone, you really do not know how far they will go, but mentoring does make a difference. Whether you help shape the next great entrepreneur or help someone achieve their dreams, making a difference is all that matters. It feels great to know that you are a positive influence in someone else’s life.

Q: How can an entrepreneur make the best out of their relationship with their mentor?
A: Be prepared. Yes, the mentor’s time is valuable, but take advantage by being well prepared. Have an agenda. You want to use the time with mentor on your most pressing business issues. Be humble. Ask for criticism and feedback. Sometimes questions the mentee has are needed to be answered sooner than the planned meeting. Keep a swinging door policy so that ‘smaller but important decisions’ that need answering quickly are just an email away. These fast answers can save the entrepreneur time, but more importantly, can save the young firm money.

Q: What advice would you give an entrepreneur thinking of working with a mentor?
A: The relationship has to be authentic and there should be a baseline chemistry between the mentor and mentee, so pick your mentor accordingly. Be prepared to act on the advice given, rather than think the mentor is there to validate your shenanigans. Always remember the benefits a mentor can bring to the table, and never forget the statistics of small business failure- 80% of business start-ups do not make it past their 5th year. So don’t be shy to ask questions, listen and absorb as much as you can, and you can hopefully avoid getting as many scars as us mentors have had to endure.

Our mentors are passionate people dedicated to helping others. With their help, entrepreneurs have been able to reach great heights. Thanks to the efforts of people like David, we look forward to what the next 18 years has in store for PME.

 

 

Businesses You Didn’t Know PME Helped Propel

Over the past 18 years PME has helped guide many diverse businesses to success. Often, entrepreneurs come to us with just an outline of what they aim to achieve. With added assistance from our program leaders, mentors, and committee members, we are able to turn this vision into reality. Here are just a few notable mentions of companies that have been able to turn ideas into lucrative business opportunities with help from PME.

Budge Studios

Not only do they have millions of downloads for their games, they have become members of the PME committee. The mission of Budge Studios is to thrill, educate, and entertain children around the world through creative and innovative apps. They have won numerous notable awards for their accomplishments. This includes the Google Play ‘Best of 2016’ App Selection Award for their app, My Little Pony: Harmony Quest. Additionally, they won the Apple Store Best of 2016 for Miss Hollywood Vacation Canada. Budge Studios may be in the business of creating games but their business strategy and objective is rigid and direct. It’s all about being family friendly and universally playable.

Naked and Famous Denim

Naked and Famous Jeans has come a long way since we first met Brandon Svarc. Simply put, the company focuses on one thing only. As they so eloquently state: “No marketing, no washes, no pre-distressing, no nonsense. Just excellent denim at a reasonable price.” Naked and Famous Jeans uses Japanese selvedge denim which is woven slowly and painstakingly on old shuttle looms. Svarc travels to Japan numerous times a year to find new fabrics, and denim mills. Nicknamed the Willy Wonka of denim, he has been interviewed by popular publications such as GQ to share knowledge about his expertise. With all their products made and sewn in Canada,their sole purpose is to sell the highest level of quality to their end-user.

Copower

CoPower is where impact investment meets Wall Street. We met founders David Berliner, Larry Markowitz and Raphael Bouskila in 2013. Since then, CoPower has continued to strive and make the world a greener and more sustainable place. CoPower’s team works with clean energy firms to identify clean energy and energy efficient projects that generate steady and predictable revenue streams. CoPower is all about impact investing. For those of you who are unsure of what this is, impact investing is a strategy that involves the investing in companies and projects with the intention of generating measurable, positive, and environmental benefits alongside financial returns.

Revols

Not only are Navi and Daniel kick-ass entrepreneurs, but did you know they had the biggest kickstarter campaign in Canadian history? Revols has come a long way since its founding in 2014. Navi and Daniel were endlessly frustrated with finding the perfect pair of earphones. While they understood that ears are as unique as fingerprints, all custom-fit earphones came with a high price-point and long wait times. The dynamic duo decided to take matters into their own hands and create Revols: a pair of wireless customized earphones that provide the same comfort and sound benefits as traditional custom-fits, at a fraction of the cost and time.

All in all, PME has had some pretty driven, and ambitious entrepreneurs come through its doors. This is just a glimpse of many of our success stories. We provide them with the most essential tools entrepreneurs need in order to succeed.

Funding Rounds: What Are They?

You see it in the media all the time: Company X raised X amount of dollars at X$ valuation. If you don’t work in finance, have a business background, or have knowledge of venture capital, this may sound foreign to you. It’s pretty simple when broken down. Funding rounds and entrepreneurial jargon can seem intimidating to many. All it takes to understand is a step-by-step explanation of its different components, and that’s exactly what we want to do to alleviate your worries.

What is a funding round?

First off, what is a funding round, exactly? A funding round is what occurs because of a company’s need to raise money with help of investors. This means that new partners enter by acquiring part of the company’s share capital. Subsequently, this entails them having control over a part of it. In return for funding, investors expect the company to grow and succeed, and recover more than what they had invested. There are different types of funding (i.e. seed, series A, series B and series C). But, before going into all of that, let’s cover the basics.

Why is it important for startups to get the money?

When investors give money to startups they receive ownership stake in return. What increased investments does is that it can increase marketing budget, affect your speed to market, increase your visibility, and decrease your personal risk. Most investors usually join the project as partners. Having motivated, smart, and connected partners on your team comes with benefits beyond money.

Does the money have to be paid back?

No. If the startup fails, the investors lose out. But if the company gets acquired or goes public, they could potentially make a lot of money. Investors that take equity stake in a startup expect to reap large returns and rewards.

Why not just take a loan?

Although it is very smart not to dilute your business when you are first starting out, taking out a loan can be challenging for a new business. If you are an entrepreneur looking to keep all equity of your business, loans are the way to go. But, it is important to keep in mind that while loans don’t dilute ownership, they have to be paid back with added interest. All in all, many entrepreneurs opt for loans, in addition to funding rounds.

What’s a valuation? And how is it determined?

Startup valuation isn’t an exact science. A valuation is how much the company is worth. Determining this can get complicated, especially for early stage startups. Many startups raise funding when they are pre-revenue, so it’s really just a bet on how big the company can be in the future.  There are many different valuation tools and method that can be used. They can vary in the amount of assumptions you need to make about a company’s future, relative to past performance. Most startups take into account the estimated market size for their product or service, revenue, growth trajectory, and the likelihood of IPO or acquisition.

The higher the valuation, the better?

Not necessarily. Raising the valuation raises the stakes. Not only can valuations be ambiguous, a high valuation doesn’t mean much if a company decides to sell for less than it initially raised. Investors would then lose money on the deal. Also, assuming a company isn’t in their last round of funding, what a high valuation has done is set an extremely high bar for the business to reach before being able to raise more funds. This can also mean bad news for employees with equity compensation.

What is seed vs. Series A, B and C?

These designations relate to the stage of investment. “Seed” refers to the startup’s very first funding round. The subsequent rounds have the letters “A”, “B” and “C” attached respectively. There are investors that specialize in different stages of investment. They often label themselves as “seed-stage funds” or “late-stage funds.”

Is there a difference between an angel investor and a venture capitalist?

Yes. The difference is pretty clean cut. Angel investors are individuals who invest their personal finances in a startup. On the other hand, venture capitalists are institutional investors. They manage other people’s money, which they use to invest in business ventures. Many venture firms have limited life cycles, and are expected to provide returns to their contributors at the end of the period. It is expected that most startups will fail, but that the best ones will provide enough returns to cover all the losses and then some.

What do startups do with the money?

Simply put, the money is used to accelerate growth. It can be used to hire new employees, sales & marketing efforts and any sort of production costs. Obviously, this also depends on the nature of the business.

When and how often should a startup raise money?

This varies from business to business. Generally, startups raise funding every 1-2 years. It all depends on how much money is in the bank, how much more is needed and how much investors want to invest in you. Smart entrepreneurs raise funds before the money is needed, running out of cash is death for businesses. Don’t forget that fundraising is a long and arduous process.

How do you get investors?

Of course you should have a solid business proposal, but forming connections with investors is just as important. There is so much value to be gained by networking. Other than investing in someone with an attractive business, investors look for people they can trust to get the work done. Make an effort to go to industry events, build relationships, and introduce yourselves to people who can help make your goals happen.

How should you pick investors?

Whether you are working with an angel investor or a venture capitalist, one thing is for sure: money isn’t the only thing that makes an investor a right option. If your investor plans to be an active member of your business, it is crucial that there is trust in that relationship. It is also important that you find an investor in line with your interests, and that can solve your current problem. Additionally, keep in mind that diversity matters. In other words, you want investors with a complimentary skill set.

So you’ve raised millions. Does that mean you’re going to succeed?

Unfortunately, probably not. Starting a company is always a gamble. Some win and some loose. It requires much more than money raised. It entails consistent pace of innovation, and an immense will to persevere through hard times. Smart and hardworking people can run into various challenges at different stages. The key is knowing how to solve problems that arise, putting in the hours, being patient, and knowing when to pull the plug.

Hopefully this has covered some of the basic questions you had about funding rounds and why they matter. While your investments don’t necessarily determine how successful your business will be, funding rounds have great impact on your business’ potential. Funding rounds don’t provide automatic solutions to your problem, what you do as a result is what matters.

Taglit’s Startup Innovation Center

In its short history, Israel has managed to become one of the world’s few startup capitals. It has become the startup nation with the third most companies listed on NASDAQ. Given Israel’s population of 9 million, various internal and external conflicts, and lack of natural resources, it has accomplished what most would consider to be impossible. Tel Aviv has built a reputation that reflects more than its beautiful beaches. Just go visit Taglit’s Innovation Center to see exactly what we are talking about.

The Innovation Center at the heart of Tel Aviv aims to display new advancements of Israeli Start-Ups in different fields. In collaboration with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Taglit-Birthright built the “State of Mind” Innovation Center. It provides an opportunity to talk about the fact that this sliver of land has over 4,000 operating startups. Visitors can learn about Israel as an international leader in technology, engineering, and philanthropy. More specifically, ground-breaking inventions for agriculture, medicine, transportation, security, and outer space are displayed. What is unique about the Innovation Center is that it emboldens user interaction. The center puts up touch screens, tutorials and prototypes, allowing for visitors to explore and understand various innovations. This way people can understand exactly why the country is deserving of its “Startup Nation” title.

Each Taglit-Birthright group that visits the Innovation Center begins by exploring the interactive exhibition, and continues with a meet-up with a Ieading Israeli entrepreneur. Here are the names of just a few start-ups displayed at the Innovation Center that is destined to make revolutionary impact.

  • Electroad: This technology uses energy from the road to power electric vehicles using that road. Copper chains are inserted into grooves in the asphalt, then connected to a power converter on the side of the road that links to the city’s electric grid. This will revolutionize transport.

  • Pillcam: A tiny camera in a capsule. After the patient swallows the capsule, the camera can reveal any abnormalities and supplies essential medical diagnosis. A tiny wireless camera contained in an easy-to-swallow and disposable capsule about the size of a vitamin pill transmits images as it travels through the human body. This inventions makes excruciating exams, such as colonoscopies, much more endurable.

  • Skyfi: It is the world’s most advanced nanosatellite with larger cover area and bandwidth. This allows for better connection between more people, allowing us to become part of a global village. Basically, this is a much cheaper way of spreading internet globally.

Each startup begins with a need. Taglit Birthright had an unmet need to show groups the innovation side of Israel; and thus the center was born. The center was originally intended for Taglit participants, but curiosity and interest arose quickly. Now the center also hosts governmental and business delegations from all over the world, a variety of private and group tourist organizations, and all kinds of people who want a glimpse into the Israeli innovation scene.

Former Prime Minister Golda Meir famously said the God had made a mistake in sending the Jews to the only country in the Middle East with no oil. While it is true that oil may have made things easier, lack thereof has, without a doubt, forced Israel to find new and innovative ways to survive and transcend all expectations.

Instagram for Small Businesses

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

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

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

  1. Visuals

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

 

  1. Hashtags

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

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

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

Understanding Your KPIs

KPI, start-upKey performance indicators, also known as KPIs, are measurable values that showcase how effectively a company is achieving business objectives. Businesses set benchmarks early on and use KPIs in order to determine if they are achieving the goals they set out. KPIs can either be high-level or low-level. In other words, they can encompass the company as a whole, or focus on departmental goals. Monitoring KPIs is crucial for measuring progress and making necessary modifications to your business strategy. However, the focus should not be on the KPIs themselves. It should be on their significance and knowing their impacts. Let’s review some of the KPIs that are important for founders to thoroughly understand for strategic purposes. Please note that not all KPIs are relevant to all types of businesses.

  1. Customer acquisition cost (CAC):

CAC is the amount of money you need to spend on sales, marketing and related expenses, on average, to acquire a new customer. This tells you about the efficiency of your marketing efforts, although it’s much more meaningful when combined with some of the other metrics below, and when compared to competitors’ CAC.

 

  1. Customer Retention Rate

Acquiring new customers is one thing, but retaining them is even more important. Your customer retention rate indicates the percentage of paying customers who remain paying customers during a given period of time. The converse to retention rate is churn (or attrition), which is the percentage of customers you lose in a given period of time. When we see high retention rates over an indicative time period, you know the company has a sticky product and that is keeping its customers happy. This is also an indicator of capital efficiency.

 

  1. Lifetime value (LTV)

LTV is the measurement of the net value of an average customer to your business over the estimated life of their relationship with your company. Understanding this number, especially in its relation to CAC, is critical to building a sustainable company. Consider the ratio of CAC to LTV to be the golden metric. This is a true indicator of the sustainability of a company.

  1. Cash Flow

Cash flow will give founders indication on the state of their sales and margins. In order to determine your cash flow forecast you have to add the total cash your business has in its savings to the projected cash value for the next four weeks. Then, subtract the projected cash-out for the next four weeks. Cash flow forecasts allow entrepreneurs to notice issues with cash flow at early stages and make the appropriate modifications.  Understanding your revenue and monthly expenses (fixed and variable) enables you to calculate the company’s monthly burn. If the company starts the month with $100,000 in cash and ends the month with $90,000 in cash, its burn rate is $10,000. If a company’s monthly net cash flow is positive, it is not burning cash. A keen focus on runway is critical to the survival of any startup. Runway is the measure of the amount of time until the company runs out of cash, expressed in terms of months. Runway is computed by dividing remaining cash by monthly burn.

 

  1. Inventory Turnover-
Inventory turnover is a ratio that shows the amount of times a company’s inventory is sold and replaced over a given period. This is especially important in the retail industry. Basically, it is how fast a company is selling their products. This is then compared to the industry average. Inventory turnover is important because it indicates the quality of your inventory planning methods and controlling techniques. Additionally, by improving inventory turnover a retailer can easily increase its profitability by carrying fewer inventories.

 

  1. Accounts Payable Turnover-
Accounts payable turnover is the ratio that measure how quick a company can pay its suppliers. When the turnover rate declines, it means that the company is taking longer to pay its suppliers. This may imply deteriorating financial situation. It can also mean a change in payment terms with suppliers. If a company seems to be paying fairly quickly this can be due to suppliers’ demand for fast payment, or that a business is taking advantage of early payment discounts.

 

  1. Revenue Growth Rate-
Having an understanding of how fast your company is growing is critical for analysis. There are many accounting rules that apply as to when and how you should declare revenue. As an entrepreneur understand that your actions as a businessperson can have direct effect on how your business is portrayed. You can control when contracts are signed, how the contracts are structured, in order to affect how much revenue is declared in a given quarter.

 

  1. Market share-
Market share is main tool used in order to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns compared to the competition. More specifically it can be calculated with shares of unit sales, share of customers served, share of total industry revenue, share of dollar volume, etc. Market share is important because it ranks you with your competitors. It gives you the most tangible indication of market growth, the quality of your CRM programs and branding initiatives. Make sure to also determine the value of your market share as well. For instance, having 60% market share in an industry that is slowly deteriorating is a red flag.

KPIs, like metrics, are crucial for business owners to monitor. Different companies monitor different KPIs, depending on their business goals. However, these KPIs should be understood by all business owners. Though you may not be dealing with technical accounting, understanding how these affect the way your business is perceived is of priority.

 

The Importance of Brand Building

brand startup

As Jeff Bezos so eloquently said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” The statement seems straightforward. But the process of building your brand is the difficult part. As an entrepreneur, you should commit to building a brand identity that resonates with your target market. So many people forget that businesses, especially those that are B2C, must have and portray a brand identity that will be the foundation of all future marketing initiatives. There are essentially 3 ways to build a brand: creating brand elements, secondary associations and marketing programs. However, before you start pouring your heart into your marketing strategy, take a moment and devise a market research plan. Investing in thorough market research is the only way to brand successfully.

How does an entrepreneur build a brand that will resonate with my customers? Though large corporations have more resources to create and develop a brand identity and conduct appropriate research, the process is practically the same. There are 6 steps to the marketing research process (click on the hyperlink for more details). (1) Defining the objective and problem (2) Determining research design (3) Designing and preparing the research instruments (4) Sampling and collecting data (5) Analyzing data and (6) Visualizing and communicating results. Though this seems complex, the hassle is definitely worth the effort. Following these steps, by conducting quantitative and qualitative research, will let you get to know your customers and their expectations of you. This implies conducting surveys, looking into credible secondary data, running focus groups, conducting interviews, testing for brand recognition, testing for recall, and associations. The goal is to know your customer enough to develop a brand identity that will appeal to them, compared to that of the competition.

If you don’t present your brand identity to the right people in the right manner,  you missed the opportunity to acquire them. This will be time consuming and costly to reverse the associations people have already made with your brand. This is not to say that you can’t change your brand identity in the future. To the contrary, many successful companies have had to make brand-related changes in order to remain relevant over time. For instance, Victoria’s Secret was rebranded countless times before their angel wings took over retail, Apple nearly went bankrupt before becoming a staple in tech, and UPS used to be big and boring before it became personal and innovative. But, changing your brand image is costly and takes time. Keep in mind that you are a start-up, and will likely have a  limited budget. Doing it right early on, will save you money, time and stress.

Whether you are an established business or start-up, there really only is one way to start off the branding process, and that is through market research and knowing exactly who you are targeting. We can’t stress this enough. Get to really know your customer early on. Drafting a brand narrative is strongly recommended. The objective of marketing is to create a lasting relationship, called customer retention, with the customer after the actual transaction has been made . You will only be able to do this once you’ve identified your customer’s problem, their expectations, and built a brand identity that they value.

 

Comment Etsy peut aider votre petite entreprise

EtsyPour ceux d’entre vous qui ne sont pas familiarisés avec Etsy, il s’agit d’une communauté d’acheteurs et de vendeurs en ligne qui se concentrent surtout sur des produits faits à la main et des articles millésimés. Etsy permet aux vendeurs de personnaliser des boutiques en ligne avec des solutions complètes de commerce électronique. Cette plateforme a permis à plusieurs personnes de transformer un passe-temps en une entreprise à plein régime. Si vous êtes une petite entreprise ou une personne qui veut tout simplement métamorphoser un passe-temps en une source de revenus, voici quelques raisons pour lesquelles vous devriez avoir une boutique Etsy.

  1. C’est facile à utiliser

Il n’est pas nécessaire de posséder de grandes connaissances technologiques pour exploiter une boutique Etsy. Créer un site Internet avec une mise en page aussi claire et professionnelle que celle que vous offre Etsy nécessiterait beaucoup de travail de conception et de codage. Pour démarrer votre boutique, il vous suffit de suivre quelques étapes simples en quelques minutes. Le plus difficile est d’établir une gamme de prix, de décider quand offrir des promotions, à quelle fréquence ajouter de nouveaux produits, etc. Mais ce sont là des décisions difficiles que vous aurez à prendre, peu importe la plateforme que vous choisissez. Etsy offre également une application iPhone, Sell on Etsy, qui vous aide à gérer votre boutique et à rester organisé. Les caractéristiques de l’application vous permettent de gérer vos commandes, d’accéder à des données statistiques concernant votre boutique, de communiquer avec d’autres acheteurs, de gérer des listes, de recevoir des alertes lorsqu’il y a une vente, et bien plus encore.

  1. C’est abordable

Démarrer une boutique sur Etsy est gratuit. Cependant, il y a trois frais minimaux reliés aux ventes. Vous avez des frais d’inscription d’un produit, des frais de transaction et des frais de traitement des paiements. Mettre un produit en vente vous coûtera 0,26 $. Pour chaque article mis en vente, la publication est valide pour 4 mois. Lorsque l’article est vendu, une commission de 3,5 %, des frais de traitement de paiements de 3,4 %, ainsi que 0,25 $ CA sont facturés.

  1. Accès à une vaste clientèle ciblée

Etsy compte environ 54 millions de membres, tous spécifiquement à la recherche de produits faits à la main, et plus de 2 milliards de visites chaque mois. La consommatrice moyenne d’Etsy est une femme adulte âgée entre 18 et 34 ans. Elle est membre de la classe ouvrière ou classe moyenne. Annuellement, la plupart de ses achats sur Etsy comprennent des bijoux qui coûtent entre 21 $ et 40 $, et qui sont souvent achetés comme cadeaux. Elle aime la variété de produits faits à la main et respectueux de l’environnement. Si votre produit répond le moindrement à ces tendances démographiques, il n’y a pas de meilleure plateforme qui atteindra votre clientèle d’une manière mieux ciblée.

  1. Testez vos nouvelles idées

Une présence sur Etsy est un bon moyen de voir comment les gens réagissent à vos nouvelles idées. Vous vous sentirez moins obligé de garder des produits qui ne se vendent pas puisque vous n’avez pas à contacter des concepteurs ou développeurs Web pour apporter les modifications nécessaires à votre plateforme. Par ailleurs, si vous avez une entreprise et un site Web existant et que vous êtes incertain au sujet d’une ligne de produits ou d’un produit particulier, effectuer des tests sur Etsy et lire les avis publiés dans les forums de discussion peut vous aider à prendre des décisions.

  1. Etsy peut être utilisé comme un outil de commercialisation économique
Contrairement à la croyance populaire, vous n’êtes pas obligé d’utiliser Etsy exclusivement. Votre site Web et votre boutique Etsy peuvent fonctionner conjointement. Une fois que vous avez gagné du terrain avec votre boutique Etsy, vous pouvez réorienter vos visiteurs vers votre site. Si vous obtenez une quantité intéressante de vente sur Etsy, vous pouvez décider que cela vous convient parfaitement tout en choisissant de travailler aussi sur votre site Web en coulisses. Offrez un incitatif à vos clients pour les amener vers votre site Web – il peut s’agir d’articles à prix plus bas sur votre site, de cartes promotionnelles expédiées avec les commandes des clients provenant du site d’Etsy, ou d’inclure des URL de votre site dans les descriptions des produits que vous présentez sur Etsy.

Si votre marché cible est constitué de personnes qui visitent Etsy régulièrement, faites-en l’essai. Que vous soyez artiste, une personne avec un passe-temps, ou que vous exploitiez déjà une entreprise, vous pouvez profiter des nombreux avantages et beaucoup apprendre en administrant une boutique Etsy. Le pire qui puisse arriver serait que vous n’aimiez pas l’expérience. Mais même dans ce cas, vous aurez essayé une plateforme et vous aurez appris ce qui fonctionne et ce qui ne fonctionne pas pour vous.

How to Find Investors for Your Business

investors, business, start-upsFinding the right investor for your business, let alone any investor, is a difficult task. You have to know where to look, who to network with, and the kind of resources your business needs. The last thing you want is an investor who can only provide financial support. You will likely speak to over a dozen of investors before finding the right one for you. It will be a tiring process, but meticulousness is necessary if compatibility is what you’re looking for. Here are 4 tips on how to find investors for your business when the time is right.

  1. Get an introduction from a mutual acquaintance

Asking members of your professional and social networks if they know any investors should be your first step. Entrepreneurs will have an easier time to get a meeting with an investor when introduced by a mutual acquaintance that the investor trusts. It is important you network constantly and consistently. Networking, whether in a social or professional setting brings about many advantages. The more good relationships you build, the better your chances of being introduced to an investor that is willing to give you his time. Remember that when networking you are not just gaining exposure, you are building connections with the networks of others as well. If someone they know has a need that matches your business, or vice versa, and you’ve made a good impression, chances are you will get a referral.

 

  1. Research where they’re going to be

If you have particular investors in mind, research where they are going to be. Many investors spend time at speaker series and conferences open to the public. In order to get the attention of your prospects make sure to attend these events, and have your elevator pitch ready. You might just have a small window of opportunity to speak to them, so make sure you provide them with just enough information to spark their interest, and provide them with your business card. Make sure to get permission to contact your prospect in order to continue the discussion further.

 

  1. Understand your KPIs and market

Your KPIs and market will help you determine exactly what kind of investment your business needs. This is what will lead you to the finding the right investor for your business. Understanding your KPIs will showcase precisely where your business is lagging and where it is prospering. You will therefore be able to identify your selling points to your investor. Additionally, understanding your market will indicate the kind of experience you need your investor to have. Which companies have they invested in? What industries are they most interested in? how does their investment track record look? What do they provide the companies they invest in?

 

  1. Research credible online communities

LinkedIn is a great online platform to find investors. It is, however, not the only one. There are many social networks that connect you directly with investors from other countries. These investors are usually interested in contributing to the global business environment. Such platforms include Crunchbase, AngelListXing, Plaxo, Startup Nation, and Meetup. While it will take much more work and precautions to assess compatibility with an investor you met this way, it should not prevent you from expanding your search to online resources.

 

Finding investors for your business will be a difficult task. Especially at the beginning stages of business development when your business hasn’t gained much traction yet. Just keep in mind that your relationship with your investor is worth more than a business transaction. Therefore, make sure you know exactly where you are looking and what you are looking for.