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Mentors, angels and
business off the ground is not an easy task. Many projects
never amount to much because they are not taken seriously, or
because they lack adequate follow-up or support. You will
increase your chances of success considerably by seeking
advice from someone with business experience, often called a
Only a very small minority of business projects
actually materialize. Many do not even get past the first
phase due to the type of project or the general presentation
of the business plan.
Lack of clarity, poor
information, and the absence of a strategic orientation are
the main deficiencies in most business plans. It doesn't take
long for the axe to fall, since financing companies tend to
back projects that are viable at first glance.
maximum 10% of business plans that are given serious
consideration, two thirds are rejected after analysis.
Projects developed with the help of an expert in the target
market get the best reception.
to find a mentor
A number of junior
chambers of commerce have mentoring programs designed to
facilitate contacts between business leaders and project
developers. Local economic development centres and some
business leaders' associations offer similar sponsorship
Inc. has developed a mentoring pilot project.
to discuss mentoring programs.
Taking their mentoring role
seriously, business leaders provide management advice, suggest
sources of financing, and frequently offer their young
protégés internship opportunities to hone leadership qualities
in the field.
Mentors are not the only business people to
give advice to young entrepreneurs. In addition to providing
financial support, banks and venture capital companies also
offer management consulting.
from active retirees, or
"Angels" are private
investors, some of whom are retired company executives. In
addition to investing in promising new businesses, some angels
are willing to give you a lot of their time.
usually invest between $25,000 and $250,000 and rarely take
more than 60% of the company's equity. Angels are leaders in
their own field who not only contribute their experience, but
also their technical and/or management knowledge as well as
their network of contacts.
In return for risking their
money, they reserve the right to supervise the company's
management practices. In concrete terms, this consists of a
seat on the board of directors and an assurance of
Angels usually keep a low profile. To
meet them, you have to contact specialized associations or
search for Web sites on angels. Masari, Inc. can help put
entrepreneurs in touch with Venture Capital
Business incubators (or 'accelerators')
generally focus on the high-tech sector by providing another
type of support for new businesses in various stages of
Commonly, incubators will invite future
businesses and other fledgling companies to share their
premises, as well as their administrative, logistical, and
technical resources. For example, an incubator might share the
use of its laboratories so that a new business can develop and
test its products more cheaply before beginning
The incubation phase can last up to two
years. Once the product is ready, the business usually leaves
the incubator's premises to enter its industrial production
phase and is on its own.
Businesses that receive this
kind of support often operate within state-of-the-art sectors
such as biotechnology, information technology, multimedia, or
industrial technology. Businesses that were supported by an
incubator have a better success rate over five years.
In recent years, the
public-relations aspect of launching a new business has been
handled through institutionalized meetings between business
promoters and investors. Chambers of commerce, venture capital
companies, and sector-based business associations organize
investors' fairs in order to give future business leaders the
opportunity to present their projects.
same formula is used everywhere: the would-be entrepreneurs
have about fifteen minutes to convince specialized investors
that their project has everything it takes to be a winner in a
rapidly expanding market.
The presentations rarely
result in an immediate investment, but they provide the
opportunity to make contacts that can be explored and
developed later on.
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