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Internet Startups - How to Go "All-In"

April 13, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 130

I've been a serial entrepreneur for over 20 years and love this lifestyle. Yes, I did work at large companies in management roles, but I prefer the risk / reward ratio of creating and taking to market, a new idea. The most important part of doing this is going "all-in" on your bet that you will succeed.

A half-baked approach, a spare time investment, or a wait and see attitude will not get you started, let alone finished. You have to believe in yourself, your product, your people, and your customers. Not everyone has what it takes to live this.

So, what does it mean to be "all in?" It means that all of your resources are pooled toward the goal of creating, refining and growing your idea. It includes your time, all of it, your money, all of it, and every bit of your talent plus those around you that you can convince to help you actualize your dream.

I have raised capital for my dreams. But, no one invests in a dream until it becomes real to them so you have to be really good at selling your dream before it's fully visualized. So there are steps on that path and definitely step one is to build a prototype. Most people are not visionary, let alone capable of seeing what's in your head. So, create a live, tangible example of your "widget."

Then after your widget is done and you can show and tell, do it with everyone you know. Don't hide it like many start-up beginners do, afraid someone will steal the idea. Quite frankly, that happens rarely because you are unique and only your idea will come from you in the way you have created it in your head. Of course there is someone (or more) people out there with your thinking style and are probably creating your idea right now. But that's okay and completely normal. Most likely only one of you will succeed anyway and your hope is that it's you.

During your journey of showing and telling (and asking for money) you will be introduced to people who will love your idea, have some money, and like you. They will invest. Don't take more than you need to get to the next level, so you don't have to give away 50% of your company out the gate. Instead, take what you need (times 2) to complete version one of your idea. The reason you take twice as much is because the rule of thumb is: anything you do takes twice as long and costs twice as much money as you, the optimistic entrepreneur thinks.

While you are building your widget for real, then go out and find yourself some trial clients who will test it for you, give you feedback, and help you get comfortable selling your product. These first test clients will probably use it for free in exchange for their feedback.

Finally, you are gearing up for market so now it's time to get suited up as a real business. You'll need real money, a real team, and a go-to-market plan. You need to figure out payroll and find insurance. Identify your team and pay them as little as possible out of your left-over money and compensate them with shares to get their buy-in. Be careful to hire a team that is fundable (track record of success). This next round is your round to get to market and should come from high net worth individuals who are more sophisticated investors but still not venture capital or fund managers. You have no proof of concept yet. Hire yourself an expert at fundraising who has experience raising capital for pre-revenue companies - startups with a cool idea but not yet proven. Raise enough to get you through your next year. Your Fundraiser will tell you how much that is after running some projections.

Finally, after you hit about the million dollar mark in sales, you are ready to go after serious money to grow your company fast - this is a whole different level and not really appropriate to address in this start-up "all-in" article. But, this is how you get here.

And you need to stay "all-in" until this round is raised and revenue is generated to then begin to compensate (and your team) for all of your hard work. It may seem like a very hard road but if you can't see yourself putting "all-in" for at least 2 - 3 years for your dream, then the entrepreneur's journey is probably not for you. Yes, some will do it faster; others will take over 5 years. It really comes down to how well you retrofitted your team, how close you were to estimating the money you needed and getting it, and the timing of your product's entry into the market -- and oh yes, luck.

Alexandrea Day, author, is the Founder & CEO of Webshoz, Inc. a software development company specializing in online instant-video preview for making the discovery of video titles a better user experience. The instant-play feature, with a rich tracking platform is also used to smartly insert videos into ad units. Contact me at for more information.

Source: EzineArticles
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