Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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16 reasons why your investment proposal won’t get read!

16 reasons why your investment proposal won’t get read! | Competitive Edge |
Increase your chances, improve your investment proposal or presentation to get business funding.

Check your business plan, executive summary or investment proposal for the following shortcomings.

These errors are made all the time and keep you guessing why you don't receive any responses. Read more: click image or title.



FREE Business Plan Template here:



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

These common errors are some very real reasons why #funding sources do NOT look at your #businessplan

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What kills startups? | BusinessDay

We’ve all heard the statistic that half of all startups fail within their first five years. The actual number is even bleaker. In a study of US firms formed in 1998, only 44% were still around only four years later, according to the Small Business Administration.

Risk and reward

What do we mean when we talk about risk? Simply stated, risk exists in any situation where there is a possibility of an outcome that we would rather avoid.

Unforeseen circumstances and their negative consequences are the very essence of risk. If we could predict the future, there would be no uncertainty, and there would be no risk.

Risk surrounds us. The flip side of risk is opportunity. There is a direct relationship between risk and reward: the greater the potential upside, the greater the risks involved. (As an aside, it’s worth noting that the converse is not necessarily true: situations that involve great risk sometimes have little or no upside. These are stupid risks to take.)

For entrepreneurs, this means that if you want to have a chance at success, you have to take significant risks. Entrepreneurship is neither easy nor risk free. And that’s exactly why more than half of all startups fail within a few years.

While risk is an integral part of entrepreneurship, it doesn’t have to get the better of you. Great entrepreneurs achieve success through keen awareness and management of risks.

The risk management framework

“Risk Management” is the art and science of thinking about what could go wrong, and what should be done to mitigate those risks in a cost-effective manner.

In order to identify risks and figure out how best to mitigate them, we first need a framework for classifying risks.

All risks have two dimensions to them: likelihood of occurrence, and severity of the potential consequences. These two dimensions form four quadrants, which in turn suggest how we might attempt to mitigate those risks:

Once we know the severity and likelihood of a given risk, we can answer the question: Does the benefit of mitigating a risk outweigh the cost of doing so?

Identifying & mitigating the Company killers

Companies flatline when the cash runs out and total current liabilities (i.e., bills due now) exceed total liquid assets. Risk management is all about identifying and mitigating the uncertainties – especially the company killers – that surround cash flows.

Uncertainty plagues businesses in countless ways, but we can group most company killers into the following categories:

These categories are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive. Some risks span several categories. Let’s look at some examples.

Market risks

Market risks refer to whether or not there is sufficient demand for what you have to offer at the price you set. Many inventors have died penniless, clinging to the belief that the market would beat a path to his door if he designed the better mousetrap.

Fortune 500 companies spend billions on market research, and every year, they introduce products that are an instant flop. On the other hand, in 1943, the president of IBM allegedly predicted, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Unless what you sell is a commodity, there is no easy way to know how the market will receive any new product. Feedback from friends, surveys of potential customers, focus group testing, and beta testing are all useful techniques for helping to gauge market acceptance. However, nobody – not you, not your best friend, not your venture capitalist – can know for sure whether people will spend money on your solution until you actually try to sell it.

One way for entrepreneurs to mitigate market risk is to avoid perfection. It’s a fallacy to think that any product will ever be “finished” in the sense that it will make all users completely happy. When your product becomes good enough to make some customers reasonably happy, get it into the market where it can start generating cash flow and feedback.

As Steve Jobs put it, “Real artists ship.” Until real customers start using and talking about your actual product – as opposed to some mock-up you test in a focus group – you have no real way of knowing what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. Release – observe – improve – repeat.

Competitive risks

Every venture has more competitors and fewer competitive advantages than it thinks. If there is money to be made by satisfying a pressing need in the marketplace (is there any other way to make money?), you can be sure that plenty of others are gunning for that same consumer dollar.

To stay ahead of your competition, you must continuously ask yourself – and your trusted advisors – what others might do to try to beat you, and then develop appropriate defenses. Know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – S.W.O.T analysis isn’t just a business school exercise. Figure out what you do better than all of your competitors – whether it be price, features, quality, or some other advantage – and focus on maintaining your leadership in that category.

Technology & operational risks

It’s one thing to say you’re going into the business of making and selling widgets. It’s quite another thing to master the actual mechanics of making and selling widgets.

Technology and operational risks broadly cover everything having to do with execution: Can your team finalize the product design on a limited R&D budget? Will your product work as intended? Can you find reliable vendors? Can you manufacture it? Can you optimize the logistics of product distribution? Can you create an effective product support infrastructure? Will your firewall prevent hackers from stealing customer credit card numbers? Do you have a backup plan to keep your company running when an accident destroys some key equipment in your data center?

Mistakes are inevitable; we all learn from our mistakes and become better over time. Learning from past mistakes is important, but if you really want to increase your chances of success, then find some co-founders who have succeeded in the past.

Financial risks

The end of the road for any business is running out of cash. Some days, when you’re an entrepreneur, it seems like all roads lead there.

For startups, the biggest financial risk stems from not having a Plan B in case investors and lenders say no (or don’t say yes quickly enough). Many entrepreneurs fail because they make the mistake of betting everything on being able to secure outside financing.

Financial risks don’t disappear once your business is up and running. Any number of things can adversely affect the cash flows of operating ventures: Customers can default on your invoices (credit risk). The cost of your raw materials could skyrocket (commodity price risk). A strengthening dollar can reduce the net profits from your international customers, or a weakening dollar can jack up the cost of your offshore manufacturing operations (exchange rate risk). A spike in interest rates could raise the cost of your working capital (interest rate risk). A plunge in the value of stocks or real estate you pledged as collateral could cause your bank to cut your credit lines (asset price risk).

People risks

People are, at the same time, the most crucial and least predictable element of any business.

The right combination of experience, contacts, and temperament among the founding team can vastly increase a venture’s odds of success. Failure to recruit, motivate, and retain the right partners can spell doom.

As an entrepreneur, one of your most important responsibilities is to establish a clear vision and culture that the entire team can rally behind. Everybody needs to row in the same direction. Everybody needs to be able to tolerate each other for eighty hours a week. You must manage strong egos, mediate personality clashes and disagreements, and rein in rogue team members.

A company is only as strong as its weakest link. Don’t let personal relationships cloud your judgment: your old college roommate might be a good marketer, but she may not be the best person to market your specific product to your specific target market. If you discover that a member of your team isn’t going to work out, you need to fix it quickly before the situation gets worse.

Legal & regulatory risks

The list of possible problems with legal or regulatory roots is almost endless: tax complications stemming from your choice of legal entity or state of incorporation; disputes arising from poorly structured agreements; lawsuits filed by a competitor alleging misappropriation of trade secrets by one of the hotshot programmers you recently recruited from them.

The first step towards mitigating legal and regulatory risk is to learn enough about the subject so that you can fully appreciate what you don’t know. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law by Constance Bagley and Craig Dauchy is a great place to start.

The second step is to retain the right attorneys – usually, one for corporate matters and another for intellectual property matters. You must manage them effectively and follow their counsel when it makes sense.

Systemic risks

Systemic risks are those that threaten the viability of entire markets, not just a single firm within a market. For example, rising default rates in the subprime mortgage market, and the subsequent domino effect among financial institutions created by linkages embedded in mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, have had a profound impact on the global financial system.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Risk is the main factor in funding evaluation. Risk analysis makes or breaks the funding odds. Learn more about risk before setting up your startup.

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50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management - Pamorama | Social Media Marketing Blog

50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics, and Management - Pamorama | Social Media Marketing Blog | Competitive Edge |
These 50 social media monitoring and management tools help you gather intelligence about your social media marketing efforts.

Some great new tools here.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Pick up your 'Free Businesss Plan Template' here:

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'The Emergence of Africa'

'The Emergence of Africa' | Competitive Edge |

Several interesting facts about Africa

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Do you take Africa into account in your marketing? Take a look at some of these numbers.

Several African listings on my site for investments:

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5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About People, Animated

5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About People, Animated | Competitive Edge |
On the art of moving words that move people.

"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up t
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This is excellent. Ever been worried about public speaking or presenting? Watch this.

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5 Techniques to Scare Competitors Out of the Market

5 Techniques to Scare Competitors Out of the Market | Competitive Edge |
On many levels, competition is good.For example, when you start a business, you want there to be competition.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

More free valuable tips, every day. Get Growthinks free email newsletter, lots of value. Worth the time.

Some reader's feedback:

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"I recently purged my email subscription list.
However, your newsletter and the New York Times are the only two I kept outside of my direct industry emails.
You are succinct and relevant in this info-jammed world.
Here's to your success!"

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What It’s Like to Be Owned by Berkshire Hathaway

What It’s Like to Be Owned by Berkshire Hathaway | Competitive Edge |

According to CEOs who know.

Warren Buffett is rightfully admired for his investment record as chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which has outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 10% annually during his 50-year tenure.

Much less attention is paid, however, to the manner in which Buffett manages the company itself. This is somewhat surprising, given that his management system is very different from those of other publicly traded companies.

Berkshire Hathaway is known for its extreme decentralization. The company’s more than 80 operating subsidiaries have complete independence and minimal oversight from headquarters, which requires little else besides regular financial statements and the return of excess cash that is not needed to sustain and grow the business. The company does not ask for budgets, financial forecasts, or strategy documents. It has no central marketing, procurement, sales, HR, IT, or legal department. It does not even have a General Counsel. This is for a corporation greater in size than General Electric, General Motors, IBM, or Chevron.

How exactly does such a structure work, given that it defies almost every major tenet taught in business school regarding management and governance?

We surveyed the CEOs of Berkshire Hathaway operating subsidiaries — almost all of whom report directly to Buffett — during the summer of 2015 to learn what it is like to manage a business for him. They represent a diverse mix of insurance and noninsurance subsidiaries of various sizes. We found the following three things: Read more: click on image or title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

These principles can be applied in any business. Managers need enough freedom to excel. There is always something to learn from Buffett.

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The Only Way to Get Really, Really Rich

The Only Way to Get Really, Really Rich | Competitive Edge |
No matter how you define rich, this is the only way to get there.

Want to be remarkably successful? Want to get really rich? (While there are many ways to feel "rich," in this case we're talking about monetary wealth.) Then check out this little gem of an investment opportunity.

It's a simple investment. You only have to invest almost all of your money. On the upside, after a year you might earn 3 percent more. The downside? Any day you could lose it all, for reasons usually outside your control and that you will almost never see coming.

Would you make that investment? Of course not.

Yet millions of people do--every day they go to work for someone else.

Of course the analogy isn't perfect. Until you're laid off or fired you do earn a salary. But when you work for someone else, your upside is always capped--sure, you might occasionally get a raise, but in most cases 3 to 4 percent is the best you can expect.

Yet your downside is always unlimited because getting fired or laid off can make your income disappear overnight--and with it the considerable investments you've made in time, effort, dedication, and sacrifice.

Extremely limited upside. Unlimited downside.

That's a terrible investment.

To read the full article and find the real way to get rich, click on the title or image.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Totally agree, this is the one and only best way to get rich.

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Yahoo Redesigns Flickr to Make It 'Awesome Again'

Yahoo Redesigns Flickr to Make It 'Awesome Again' | Competitive Edge |
At a press event, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer calls new design 'heart-stoppingly beautiful.'
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

She really makes a difference transforming Yahoo. I like what she's doing.

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Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.)

Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc.) | Competitive Edge |
Mike Del Ponte co-founded Soma, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter using virtual assistants and free apps. I first met Mike Del Ponte two years ago when he was running marketing at Bran...
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Fabulous advice from Tim Ferris. Check out this strategy if you're serious about a succesful crowdfunding campaign.

Some basics about crowdfunding:

Use the Crowdfunding Pitch Formula from Dave Lavinsky to top it all off, watch the presentation video:

Jose Gonzalez's curator insight, May 6, 2013 1:03 AM

Exactly my point !


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Want to slash 50% off your marketing budget? Try being nice

Want to slash 50% off your marketing budget? Try being nice | Competitive Edge |
Want to improve your marketing and drop your costs? Teach your employees to treat their customers one level above crap.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

I love this article. Finally, being nice is paying of.

Get the best marketing plan template anywhere. Watch the video, it's worth the time:

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