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1. Protect your idea with a patent/copyright/trademark.
Depending on your business venture, you will need to take precautionary steps to protect your idea. This may involve filing a patent, copyright, or trademark. In any of these cases, it is important that you develop quality documents, easy to read figures, tables, and graphics so that the reviewer can determine the merit of your work. Venture capital investors may want to review these documents and along with your business plan, this might be the first impression of you and your capabilities.
Please remember that these protections do not keep someone else from trying to develop your idea, but they do give you the right to fight it out in court.
2. Write an excellent business plan.
Your business plan is a dynamic document. One investor group may need a particular format while another group may ask you to present the plan in their preferred review layout. The business plan needs to state who you are, what you are doing, why you need investment, the scope of the market (what is the valuation of the market), how you intend to proceed with the investment, and what the return on investment will be should someone invest. Most importantly, the business plan needs to be grammatically correct and have no spelling errors.
3. Have your business plan vetted and reviewed by experts in the field.
You need to take the time to have someone in your field read your business plan. Possibly a trusted colleague or a subject matter expert/reviewer/editor can help you with noticing the little things that are missing. These people can also help find areas of weakness in your business plan. With investors, you often have one opportunity to impress. Make sure that you put your best and most developed idea forward. In the business plan, it is important to point out how much you are investing of your own money into the idea.
4. Valuation is important.
Spend time thinking about the valuation and show that you did some real work on the projections. Find a banker or investor who might give you some time and help you develop the corporate valuation.
5. Develop a slide show.
To go along with your business plan you will need a slide deck that puts your business plan into pictures, graphs, text, and images that people can review. Many people are visual. Reading a long business plan may not be the first choice some individuals. Give them a slide show that they can scroll through and begin to “see” your idea.
6. Have your marketing plan developed and ready to show.
The success of many businesses comes with the marketing plan. It may seem like having your marketing plan all developed is not going to help you gain investment, but the truth is that investors will be far more impressed if you can show them the details of how you plan to make money on your idea and their investment.
Consider having flyers, a short video, and other items that will help you market to your target demographic. It is important to note that by developing your marketing, you will be able to fine-tune the demographic most likely to purchase your product or idea. Make sure to have all the documents, videos, and flyers proofread by multiple people. Nothing ruins a good marketing plan more than having bad grammar, typos, and spelling errors.
7. Invest your own money in the venture.
Invest at least a few thousand dollars in your new business. If you are not willing to invest, why will someone else want to loan you money? The capital investment you put in represents a material percentage of your net wealth and shows that you are dedicated to the success of the project.
Many entrepreneurs tell everyone about the sweat equity they are putting into the business. The truth is that everyone starting a new business is putting this type of effort in and potential investors expect this effort.
8. Have a working prototype available.
Investors do not want to take on product-development risk. If your idea is fabulous, they may take this risk but they will likely want a larger portion of your company. Have a working prototype available for review. A working prototype shows the investor that the development and proof-of-concept risk is mitigated.
9. Acquire Investment first from “friends and family.”
Many investors want to see that you have raised money from friends and family because it validates that people who know you think you are capable of making this idea come to life. How much should you seek from friends and family? This depends on your idea but $25,000 to $50,000 is a good sign that you are seen as capable and competent by family and friends.
10. Generate revenue.
This is a difficult task but very important. The company does not need to be making millions in the first month but a small amount of revenue will show that you have a good marketing plan and your idea is moving forward.
On a final note, raising capital is challenging and time consuming. If you take these ten steps, you will be better prepared to be a success in the capital investment round of funding.
10. Peter Benchley’s Jaws
Jaws (1975) became the preeminent summer blockbuster movie and the highest grossing movie ever at the time. Benchley based his book on some real life events and people that added to the intrigue, but Spielberg’s movie scared people out of the water and back into the theater to see it a second time. My parents took me to see this movie when I was 5 (no kidding), never dreaming the shock value involved even for adults.
9. Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is a marvelous adaptation of the work by Stephen King. Andy Dufresne is a character you root for and are not disappointed with the movie’s depiction. Dufresne triumphs over surprising corruption and cruelty that is shocking. But the payoff is huge!
8. Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men (2007) showcases the Coen Brothers’ quirky, magical touch, lifting this adaptation to the big screen. The bad guy’s musings reminded me of the first time I read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, showing depth and philosophical musings juxtaposed with cruel violence.
7. Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club
Fight Club (1999) has a tremendous twist preserved in the movie and captures the frustration of bureaucratic, corporate America. Most of us take out our frustrations on pints of Ben & Jerry’s best rather than each other thankfully. Fight Club actually leaves you thinking long after you watch its conclusion.
6. JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) was an adaption of one of the most beloved reads of my childhood. I was so pleased when I saw the film adaptation that it made me want to purchase the set for safekeeping. I was a bit surprised at the long shots of the evil minions building their army — not attractive folks. But I would say the worst part was the waiting inbetween releases of the three movies.
5.Charles Portis’ True Grit
True Grit (2010) is one of those movies that has it all: drama, revenge, underdogs, kid heroes, and cowboys. Jeff Bridges was amazing. My wife was so drawn in by the story and grit of the girl actress and didn’t mind some of the shocking violence. This tremendously successful western thrilled audiences even without John Wayne.
4. Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is truly scary to read and imagine in your own mind. Surely no movie could reach those levels of intensity? Anthony Hopkins is Mr. Intensity in this film and impacts audiences’ dreams weeks afterward with his portrayal of Lechter.
3. Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (1993) is another Spielberg blockbuster that both delighted and thrilled fans while avoiding too much of the lecturing on chaos theory. I still think of that cup of water, resonating with the footsteps of the approaching Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I don’t think I will forget the poor fellow meeting T-Rex — and his demise — in the outhouse.
2. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather
The Godfather (1972) is a brilliant masterpiece directed by Francis Ford Coppola, complete with violent moments that only a portrayal of the mob could allow. It replaced Gone with the Wind as the highest grossing movie when it premiered. Puzo assisted with the screenplay, no doubt lifting its production to the heights it achieved. And who can forget Marlon Brando? If you do, you may no longer be part of the family.
1. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (1939) is the number one movie of all time on the charts for prices adjusted for inflation. The movie was epic, sweeping, moving, and star studded. It premiered in a day when the running time was not the obstacle it is today. It was honored as the first film to ever receive 5 Academy Awards. I can still watch this movie and be enthralled with it for hours. But the shock of Rhett Butler’s final words lives on in movie history, and it was truly shocking to the audience of the day.
Written by Dr. William
If you write anything at all and you haven’t heard of or followed Library Lady Jane (aka, Jane the Librarian), start getting to know and follow her now. She’s a guru of grammar and a darn nice lady too! We’ve admired her work for quite some time, so we decided to connect with her and see if she’d grant us an interview. To our great delight, she did!
Edit911: Where did you get your love of grammar?
Jane: I got my love of language from my Mom, and from constant reading, another love that was bequeathed by her and pretty much every member of my extended family. Mom demanded perfect grammar and regular precision of vocabulary, and I loved being able to get it right. When she saw that, she had me read books on language really early; I remember reading The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way, by Bill Bryson, some time around fifth grade.
Edit911: Why do you think so many people have so much trouble with grammar?
Jane: People have difficulty with grammar because they hear it spoken and see it written imperfectly far too often, and they don’t have good models to imitate. Grammar is taught in very dry ways, and grammar in school would never have interested me in the slightest if it hadn’t been a key to decoding formulas I already knew from reading great books from a young age.
Edit911: What advice would you give people who want to improve their grammar?
Jane: If you want to improve your grammar, read your own writing aloud. Yes, it can be painful, but you will surprise yourself with what you catch if you add the sound of your own voice to the process of revision. Also, read more. Read good, well-written, entertaining books when you have the chance.
Edit911: Do you have a favorite grammar book and grammar website?
Jane: My favorite grammar book is The Elements of Style, affectionately referred to as “the Strunk and White.” It’s the only physical book I find myself reaching for for reference purposes on a semi-regular basis. I don’t have a particular favorite website, but I find myself agreeing with Grammar Girl a great deal of the time. I very rarely use only one resource for grammar or language questions, though, because when such questions arise they are often points that language experts have some disagreement on, or they’re points of definition of use and grammar terminology, so it is necessary to compare several resources. Google is my best friend for that kind of inquiry; it definitely helps to have mastered some advanced searching techniques.
Edit911: What else would you like our clients and visitors to know about you and your work?
Jane: I’m just a librarian with a passion for language! I got started working with Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) because I sent him a fan email about four years ago and offered to help him with proofreading, and that led to the creation of the semicolon comic (“How to Use a Semicolon“). We’ve never met in real life. He sends me comics, and I proofread them to the best of my ability and aim for a fast turnaround, because he often wants to publish as quickly as possible. Sometimes we collaborate a bit more closely on the text, especially when he is focusing on points of grammar, but we’re not perfect. I’ve overlooked some mistakes that make me cringe now, and wow, the internet is an unforgiving audience for that kind of thing.
Jane has some additional advice: if you want to improve your own writing, or if you have a document that needs another set of eyes, I would encourage you to seek out resources that you might have at your disposal that you may not have considered. Are you in college or graduate school? Utilize the writing center on campus. I worked at Auburn University’s writing center for almost three years while I was in school there. Out of school? Try the public library. As a public reference librarian, I helped people with papers, resumes, even contracts occasionally, for free.
And, if you have a longer document that absolutely has to be right, it is worth it to pay for professional editing and proofreading services. I have seen important documents that were poorly edited because someone didn’t want to pay an experienced professional for their time and expertise, and that only reflects poorly on you, the initial author. Don’t skimp for this kind of service!
Thanks for your wise words and friendly exchange, Jane! You can follow Jane on Twitter @libraryladyjane
Do you like novels and golf? On the Hole is an award-winning novel about golf—and so much more—by Jeff Bacot. On the Hole won the prestigious 2013 EVVY Merit Award for fiction in May, and just won the 2013 GOLD MEDAL Award for sports fiction, with a 5 star rating from the judges of the “Readers Favorite” group.
Regarding Edit911’s editing, Jeff has this to say: “Winning these awards was in no small part because of the brilliant editing help I had from you, Dr. Robert, and Dr. Dan. Edit911 was instrumental in helping me get my novel done. In fact, I literally couldn’t have ended up with my novel nearly as well-written as it is without having had your fantastic editing suggestions and guidance.”
On the Hole is a terrific story! Thanks for entrusting it to us, Jeff!
To learn more about Jeff and his award winning novel check out these resources:
1. Author: http://jeffbacot.com/
3. Blog: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/jeffbacot
4. Interview w/ Washington Times: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/written-word/2013/may/9/interview-hole-author-jeff-bacot/
6. Twitter: @jeffbacot
7. Clarion ForeWord: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/on-the-hole/