Monday, March 11, 2013

Stronger Startups and Angels' Wings

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of young people taking an entrepreneurship course in the Jane-Finch area of northwest Toronto. I found them quite knowledgeable about business, engaged and curious. We had a good discussion about business successes and failures, and the traits that mark the best entrepreneurs. Part of that discussion turned up in my column in the National Post March 4, under the title “Do you have what it takes to run your own business?”

It’s a fairly basic look at entrepreneurship, but I heard from a lot of senior business people who said they liked it. The story features a list of the seven personality traits most required of startup entrepreneurs, as well as the seven biggest challenges they’re most likely to face. Here’s an excerpt;
Challenge No. 2: Communicating your unique selling proposition. Once you understand your competitive advantage, you have to articulate it. My advice is to create a three-part mission statement that clearly describes what you do, who you do it for and how customers benefit from dealing with you. Example: “I’m a technology consultant who helps manufacturers out-compete Asian producers.” When you know your audience and how you can help them, the right people will flock to your door.

The full story is here:

My column the previous week took an inside look at Halifax-based First Angel Network, a funding  program that had been criticized by prominent tech entrepreneur David Crow for soaking clients with inappropriate presentation fees. My story looked at both sides and found… a few things that need changing.
Excerpt: Crow contends angel groups should maximize value for entrepreneurs, not middlemen and no company should pay hefty fees just to pitch. He doesn’t like to see what he calls “brokers,” especially those who have taken government funding to help source deals, taking a slice of equity at such an early stage: “The alignment of interests is not there.”

Bonus story: A startup entrepreneur called me recently to ask how his company could reach more people with its online content. I dared them to think bigger.


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