Geri Stengel

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The 5 W’s (and How) of Equity Startup Financing

Every business is different when it gets started, and therefore every business has different needs. Some need no funding at all, and can get off the ground with the same amount of time and money that it would take to sell lemonade on the street corner. But others need not only money to get started, but money at regular stages of its growth cycle, as the company transforms from startup into success.

Equity financing exists for the companies that need capital to grow and scale. And if your business needs to raise money in order survive, here are the essentials that you need to know.

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4 Overlooked Ways To Minimize The Risk Of Starting A Company

Striking out on your own is risky business. Within the first five years, 50% of businesses fail. But you can increase your chance of success with planning and preparation.

I asked Candace Klein what entrepreneurs overlook that could increase their chances of success. Who would know better? Klein has been part of three start-up companies and, through her Bad Girl Ventures nonprofit, has guided many women as they start companies. Bad Girl Ventures  provides training, connections and access to capital to female entrepreneurs in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Klein started SoMeLend, which closed its doors, and she is now the chief strategy officer of Dealstruck. Both companies are online alternative lenders to small businesses. 

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Which Shark on “Shark Tank” Should You Swim With?

Investors come in all shapes and sizes, and bring different types of value to the deals they make. It’s no different on Shark Tank, the ABC reality show that has become something of a cultural touchstone and ignited general interest in entrepreneurship. Even if you don’t plan to make an appearance on the show, you can learn a lot from the entrepreneurs who have dared to enter the Tank.

One of the most important takeaways from the show is that investors—televised or otherwise—offer more than money. Many offer connections to customers and vendors. They also offer strategic advice or even access to other investors.

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Power Up Your Business By Focusing on ‘Why’

Focusing on “Why” your company does what it does powers up your passion and your business. Inspirational leaders understand this. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers all started with why, according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer and author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Sinek’s TED speech offers specifics around how these leaders did began and how they applied their passionate “why” each step along the way.

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How To Turn a Pesky Problem Into A Billion Dollar Business

An “aha” moment leads to product innovation
Who would have thought that a mouse and a mishap would spawn a billion dollar company? While on a date with her farmer husband-to-be, Kari Warberg Block was asked to help start a stalled tractor, as she sat there a mouse ran up her leg into her crotch. Eek!

At the time, Warberg Block worked at a cosmetic counter at a local department store in North Dakota. Despite the fact that the perfume gave her headaches, she wore it to impress her date and had a bottle in her purse that day. Thinking that if the fragrance gave her a headache, it would also give the mouse one, she sprayed the critter. It immediately took off.

Warberg Block thought other farmers would like a product that didn’t harm mice, but sent them packing. The products available at the time were poisonous not just to rodents, but to people,  especially children, which was of great concern to her.

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6 Must-Have Personality Traits for an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs solve problems by creating new products or new ways of doing things. It takes a very special person to do this well—one with very specific personality traits. Based on personal observations and interviews, I’ve come up with six must-have traits for success as an entrepreneur. 

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5 Common Mistakes Companies Make When Seeking Financing

Whether you’re starting a new business or expanding an existing $50 million enterprise, you may need to raise outside financing. I was surprised when my accountant, Gary Topche of Topche & Company, told me the mistakes business owners make are similar no matter the size of their businesses.

His company specializes in serving the financial needs of businesses ranging from startups wanting to grow big in a hurry to companies already worth half a billion dollars. Naturally, I wanted to know more about these mistakes, and share insights from someone so close to ground zero.

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The Rise Of Women Tech Entrepreneurs In The South

Atlanta is setting a new standard for women in tech, offering them opportunities not found elsewhere. Women in Georgia, as elsewhere are less likely to start tech companies than men … but Atlanta is changing that.

Allyson Eman, Executive Director of Venture Atlanta, the premier tech conference in the Southeast, says women are seizing the opportunity to start tech companies in Atlanta’s key industries—fintech, health IT and IT security—as well as in emerging industries, such as marketing automation.

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How Starting with “Why?” Leads Entrepreneurs to Success

Why are some companies more innovative, more profitable, and inspire greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? It’s because they start by asking “why,” according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and speaker (his TED speech is among my favorites).

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Sinek. Your story and your passion make you stand out in a crowd and help you connect with like-minded people, the kind of people who will support you even when times are tough.

When you follow your heart and are passionate about what you do, you lay the foundation for creativity. That keeps you motivated. When obstacles get in your way, you have the strength to go on. Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing four start-up entrepreneurs whose passion and purpose inspire me, their customers, employees, suppliers, and investors.

Read all of How Starting with “Why?” Leads Entrepreneurs to Success on My Turnstone. 

Looking for Alternative Funding Sources? Go Online

If you’re a small business, you don’t need to be told that small businesses were hit harder than large ones during the financial crisis. Bank loans, especially those for less than $350,000, dried up. Small businesses—especially Main Street firms—couldn’t get the money they needed to maintain cash flowhire new employees orpurchase new inventory or equipment to grow their businesses.

But, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. “Emerging online players are filling the void left by many banks, and pushing innovation within the banking sector in the same ways in which other online upstarts such as changed retail and Square has changed the small business payments business,” wrote Karen Gordon Mills and Brayden McCarthy in The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access During the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game (PDF), a Harvard Business School working paper.

Whether online or offline, alternative lending caters to customers who need cash but might not qualify for traditional bank loans. It's even attracting some small businesses that would otherwise qualify for a cheaper traditional bank loan but don't want to deal with the traditional hassle. In these cases, some businesses determine that the flexibility that comes with alternative lending is worth the extra cost.

Read all of Looking for Alternative Funding Sources? Go Online on Quickbooks. 

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