In this report: prepping investor presentations, using academic journals, serving on a nonprofit's board, and paying your vendors when times get tough
Prepare an Investor Presentation
Do this even if you aren't actively searching for cash or haven't identified prospective investors. That's what Ryan Donnelly and Stephen Betts of William Paterson University argued at a recent entrepreneurship conference. "Practice the plan over and over again, in front of different audiences," they advised. "This will get you comfortable with whatever investors or banks will throw out [at you]." That presentation should probably be 15 to 25 slides.
When You Really Must Have Primary Academic Research
If your market research takes you into the obscure world of academic journals, here's some help. Not surprisingly, some academic journals are more respected than others, and at Harzing.com you'll find assessments and rankings, assembled by Australian academics, of hundreds of journals. Among the subjects covered: business history, tourism, psychology, and entrepreneurship.
How Much Will It Cost You to Serve On the Board of a Small Nonprofit?
That's the question Jon Boroshok, head of TechMarcom, a Westford, Mass. public relations firm, had when he was asked to serve on a couple of nonprofit boards. He thought "that having the free services/counsel of a marketing communications/public relations professional with 20 years of experience would be a big help, particularly for any early-stage nonprofit." Not so simple. "I was a bit surprised when told by one organization that their expectations of each board member includes a financial contribution," he says. "They declined to elaborate [on the amount] when I asked."
My experience with nonprofit boards is that the expectation of a contribution shouldn't be a surprise. Small nonprofits almost by their nature are cash-starved, and their visions of well-heeled directors are often clouded by dollar signs. A Web site about nonprofit boards states that among the responsibilities of board members of nonprofit organizations is "to make a personal contribution."
Sometimes the nonprofits aren't sure what to ask for in terms of contributions. When they do get specific, the amounts can be sizable. I know an entrepreneur who quit the board of a major museum when the directors were informed that they were expected to contribute a minimum of $10,000 annually.
Books: When Times Are Tough, Which Vendors Get Paid First—Your Three Biggest Vendors or the Many Small Outfits?
You're better off somewhere in between, argues Michael Gonnerman, a part-time chief financial officer and small-company director in his new book, Ask Mike, which grew out of a regular e-mail newsletter he sends to entrepreneurs (to subscribe, go to Gonnerman.com ).
"To start with, rank your vendors by how essential they are for your operations. Payroll, taxes, utilities, and health insurance will probably show up at the top of the list, because you're dead in the water if your employees walk out or the phones are shut off. Then clean up your payables list by paying the smaller accounts, especially those who provide ongoing services. Finally, speak with all your other vendors about your situation and payment plans."
More than 100 other such questions—from "How do I teach employees the value of money?" to "How aggressive should I be with invested cash?"'—are answered in this informative and entertaining paperback.