Billiken Angels Workshop: Pitching To and Planning for Angels

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Billiken Angels - The deals that make a differenmceEver wonder what DO angels want? Learn that and more at a free workshop being offered by the Billiken Angel Network, one of St. Louis’ two angel networks. The workshop is open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are required.

The Billiken Angel Network at Saint Louis University will host a workshop for entrepreneurs seeking angel investment funding from 5:00-6:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, in room 173 at the University’s John Cook School of Business, 3674 Lindell Blvd. The event is free and open to the public, however seating is limited and reservations are required.

The workshop is designed for start-up entrepreneurs with a completed or in-process business plan and focuses on how to prepare the business plan and the “pitch” for presentation to angel investment groups and bankers. BAN staff members Jerome Katz and Andrew Fehlman will discuss:

* What angels look for in business plans.

* How to think about valuation and deals.

* The seven slides of the perfect business plan pitch.

The Billiken Angels Network is a St. Louis-based angel network and is dedicated to funding deals for people and firms with SLU DNA. You can learn more about the BAN at http://www.billikenangels.com.

To register for the workshop, contact Jeanne Rhodes at SLU’s Center for Entrepreneurship at (314) 977-3850 or by email at rhodesja@slu.edu.

Super 7: The 7 Best Free Sources for Business Plan Help

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I was asked by a budding entrepreneur how to get started on their business plan, and I thought I’d share the answer as to my 7 favorite spots for getting started. All are free, whether for the planning materials or the help offered.

Business Plan Templates
(These show you how to craft a plan)

1. SBA has some good free guides at www.sba.gov/content/templates-writing-business-plan.
2. SCORE also has some at http://www.score.org/template_gallery.html

Online Business Plan Makers
(These ask you the questions and format your responses)

3. Purdue’s Agricultural Innovation & Commercialization Center at https://www.agecon.purdue.edu/planner/
(click on ‘start here’ on business planner).

4. My Own Business offers free and for-fee services at http://www.myownbusiness.org/course.html (scroll down and click ‘Free Access to online Course).

Note that all of these are pretty high quality sources, although they do have slightly different outlines of what goes in and where it goes. It is up to you to decide if every single entry is needed (hint: it usually isn’t), but if in doubt, it is better to leave it in (or even better, get free advice from the sources below.

Good Free Advice on Business Plans
(They will offer you advice about your plan.)

5. SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers) have the most offices nationally, so they are your best chance for local advice. You can find them through you can find at http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-development-centers-sbdcs.

6. SCORE.org offers free advice from over 300 local offices nationwide, or even via email.

7. And don’t forget the original first source of help, the US Small Business Administration at SBA.gov and at district offices in every state.

With these resources at your side, you are sure to get a great business plan going.

Missouri – An MO State Alum’s view

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Frank Chimero is a visual artist (and MO state alum) who teaches at Portland State. He’s doing a series of visualizations of the states, and here is his take on Missouri. When I look at the person going through the shredder, I think it is an entrepreneur.
For entrepreneurs, Frank imagery is not far off the mark. MO spends about one-tenth on economic development of the next lowest surrounding state (and about 2.5% of what the biggest spender is doing, see http://www.entrepreneurship.bloch.umkc.edu/research/Capital%20Formation%20Paper%2012-4.pdf). We trail the nation in firms created and jobs created. In a big statewide meeting on economic development, the heavy-hitters of MO said capital formation was far behind where it should be (and as one of only three angel capital group creators in the state, let me tell you that their observation is accurate).
Seeing the great ideas our students have, but not having enough ways to get these funded or moving remind me that we still have a long way to go!

If you’ve gone international – brag to Uncle Sam!

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This came across my desk today. If you’ve been successful in international trade, consider sharing your story.

Rare Opportunity for Missouri Businesses to Make a Difference!

The US International Trade Commission is holding a public hearing in St. Louis on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, One South Broadway; St. Louis, MO 63102. The purpose of the hearing is to allow small to medium-sized businesses to give first hand testimony on their experiences in international trade. The hearing will focus on:

* identifying barriers to exporting noted by firms, and the strategies they use of overcome those barriers
* identifying the benefits to of increased export opportunities, including free trade agreements and other trading agreements;
* providing insight into the multinational operations of small and medium-sized businesses, including foreign affiliates of US firms, and indirect exports through sales to larger exporting firms

Information on the St. Louis hearing, including the procedure for requesting to testify, is available at the following link:

http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/field_hearing.htm

We urge all of you consider participating, and please encourage all of your clients, suppliers, and contacts to participate. The final USITC report goes to the US Trade Representative and the report becomes part of the Federal Register. This is a chance to make progress exporting for America!!!

A Thousand Points of Small Business Light? Well, Lets Start With Three

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It may be too early to hope for a “thousand points of light” for America’s small businesses, but I was asked recently if there was any good news out there, and here were three I could think of:

There is a bright spot for industries taking advantage of the downturn, for example real estate trusts buying up distressed commercial properties in hopes of the upturn. (The residential market has a similar operation going, but with less upside potential and more human capital involved.)

More students are deciding to start their own businesses rather than fight the rising tide of a horrible job market. Unemployment in the 18-24 age group is over 16% (http://michael-e.com/2009/08/unemployment-hardest-on-18-to-24-year-olds/).

We also seem to be seeing a surge in part-time self-employment, with a lot of small-scale home-based businesses, a lot of selling on eBay, and other low-cost, low overhead efforts to help make ends meet. As the economy picks up, a lot of people will abandon these efforts for better-paying employment, but the skills of working for yourself, and the emotional payoffs of it, mean that we are likely to see a long-term growth in self-employment after the post-recession dip.

Three’s not a thousand, but it is a start. I’d love to hear about more.

afternoon and evening

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