5 Keys to Raising Capital for Your New Business Idea

Learning how to raise capital for your business idea is often difficult for many otherwise very capable would be entrepreneurs. Raising finance, be it from a bank, a venture capital firm or a business angel, has a lot to do with being able to sell your business idea, and less about how good that idea actually is. The best business idea can get nowhere if you cannot convince your prospective investors of its potential as an investment and your ability as a business owner of making it a success. You should keep the following key points in mind when trying to raise capital for your new business idea.Prepare a business planWriting a business plan is often a lot of work and distracts you from doing what you want to do, which is running your business. But you won’t get any funding without a solid written business plan. Telling an investor or your bank contact that they should give you money because you had a great idea is just not going to cut it. A business plan will explain exactly what you plan on doing with that money, why you need it and real numbers proving your business idea potential. Among other things, you’ll need to be able to prove that you know your audience and the size of the market you plan on targeting, your marketing plans, your expected cashflow for the first few years and how will you deal with risks such as another competitor entering the market. If you are unsure about how to write a good business plan you can also hire a consultant to help you prepare it, but make sure you know exactly what’s in it, since the consultant won’t be with you when talking to the potential investors.Practice your pitchLooking for investment is like selling your business idea to somebody who knows a lot about what makes a good, profitable business. While a good business plan is the basis for your pitch, you will still need to deliver it the right way. It’s worth investigating your potential investors, and adapting your pitch to that information. For example, a bank is often conservative and would be more interested in you showcasing how your business idea is a safe bet and has a solid base, without extravagant expenses or high risk taking. However, an investor with an existing portfolio of cutting edge technological business may be more interested in listening to how your business is highly innovative and will use the money to create the next big thing online. Do not go into any meeting with your investors without researching all you can about them and their style, since they will have no doubt researched you to see if you, as a person and a businessman, are likely to succeed.Plan for threats and weaknessesRemember when at job interviews people asked you to name your weak points? Your investors are going to do exactly the same about your business idea. While it’s clear that you wouldn’t be asking for investment if you didn’t believe your business idea has a high potential for success, you should also be aware of what things could make it fail, and be able to plan for it. Do not say “Nothing can go wrong, I have everything covered” because at best you’ll get a reality check from the investors about the many things you had not considered, before politely being shown the door. Being secure of yourself is great, but realism is highly appreciated in business.Know your USPWhat makes your business idea unique, and so makes people choose you over anybody else to buy from? Your unique selling point, or USP, will be key to your marketing strategy since it’s the reason why people will buy from you. A generic business with no unique selling point is not likely to make venture investors interested, because if anybody can do it, it’s probably not going to be very profitable. Investors want a high return on investment, and that means that your business should grow and not just be good enough for you to make a living. On the other hand, a bank may be less demanding with your uniqueness, as long as you are using a proven business model on a niche that has room for new players, but a bank knows that they’ll get their payment through your loan interest so they are satisfied with you just breaking even and paying your loan.Show that you the right person to lead your businessThis is another challenging issue when trying to get finance, and a question that few investors will ask you directly so you need to show it by your actions and your sales pitch. Some people are great at having ideas, but are very bad at making those ideas into a real business and managing the day to day of said business. As a business owner, you’ll need many skills that aren’t directly related to your business core idea. Even if you are technically the best developer in the world, and the person who can best implement your idea, you may not be the right person to actually manage it and many investors will notice that unfavourably. Make sure you come across as a savvy businessperson, and not just a great inventor or a proficient salesman.

What Can You Do With A Degree In Nutrition?

Earning a degree focused in nutrition can have many potential career paths other than becoming a nutritionist. There are six main types of nutrition paths to choose from, including teaching nutrition, public health nutrition, nutrition consulting, clinical nutrition, food science, and food service management. Most nutrition jobs should fall within one of these categories.A degree in nutrition could help individuals land employment as a public health official, dietetic consultant, school food service director, quality control manager, food distributor, or wellness coordinator. Individuals may be employed through health maintenance organizations, school systems, food manufactures, wellness centers, and exercise and fitness centers. Government agencies also have the potential to employ those with degrees in nutrition. Some of the government agencies could include Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, SNAP- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Department of Health, and U.S. Public Health Services.While earning a college degree, individuals will most likely be required to study a wide range of courses to gain a well-rounded education. Students could be expected to take courses related to nutrition, consisting of anatomy and physiology, introduction to food science, sociology, bacteriology, chemistry, and biochemistry. By completing an internship, individuals are able to gain hands on experience in the nutrition field before committing to a job or while still in school. Internships can serve as a great way to determine where your interests are, and if obtaining a career in this field is a good fit.It is important for individuals wanting to succeed in a career in nutrition to possess skills such as organization and planning, strong verbal and written communication, proficient math skills for weights and measures, and interest in the well-being and health of others. To be successful working in nutrition, individuals may be required to advise patients in practicing good nutrition, monitoring diet modifications, and assessing health plans. Those with a degree in nutrition should also be able to monitor food safety conditions and create menus for specific dietary needs.Depending on your place of employment and job description, individuals with a nutrition degree may be asked to create visuals aids and nutrition manuals that could be useful in teaching. Companies dealing with food service may hire nutrition graduates to create meal plans, ensure food safety, or develop new food products. Salary potential can depend on more than the actual job, but also education level, years of experience, and location of employment.

Online Learning Management Systems, Key Points for Effective Due Diligence and Return on Investment

OVERVIEW:

Online Learning Management alternatives will continue to evolve rapidly with greater options for new software, hosting and administrative services. Direct costs – typically software and hosting – have decreased with continued upgrades to navigation and user-interface, and now with added efficiencies of ‘cloud’ hosting. Indirect costs require careful review on multiple fronts, such as: a) An objective assessment of available/operational internal resource capacity to perform support, maintenance and administrative services or to engage with out-sourced vendor staff to support these services, and b) An accurate projection of LMS deployment scope. A company’s demand for online learning will rapidly increase and gain complexity over the next 2-3 years. Software and hosting options have almost unlimited capacity to meet demand. Services capacity is the bottleneck.

IN-SOURCED VS OUT-SOURCED LEARNING MANAGEMENT

The critical decision-point is whether to purchase LMS software and in-source the function or to contract with a LMS Services provider to out-source the function. Both options have multiple alternatives available in the market. A sample of key cost and risk elements are discussed in the following paragraphs.

In-Sourcing Learning Management Services:

The upsides to purchasing an LMS are increased control and customization of the online learning function. As online learning demand increases (internally and externally), the business case for LMS in-sourcing gains strength. However, a common misjudgment is underestimating the multi-faceted nature of support required to operate and administer an LMS – most of these elements are “soft costs” not budget line items:

  • Purchasing the software requires analysis but is the easiest part of the process. Good LMS software options can start at $12,000, plus upgrades every 12-18 months for half the purchase cost.
  • The Cost/Time to install the software and achieve operational effectiveness within the client IT environment requires combined IT and Training resources. LMS software installation can be complex, depending on Server Operating Systems and the degree of specialized capacity available within IT and the Training team. Installation raises a range of client server security issues depending on the target user audience – internal staff (working from network computers vs remote) or external constituents.
  • Time for the Training staff to learn how to administer the LMS: publish and upload courses, create curriculums and assign courses to curriculums, enroll/manage users, manage user gradebooks and activity reporting, etc.
  • Cost to acquire/build course content (SCORM complaint)
  • Time to establish course and LMS organization naming conventions and user groups, upload courses, design curriculums, transfer student records, etc. The setup of the user registration process and curriculum listing requires pre-planning prior to loading any content into the LMS.
  • Establish operational back-up – that is, people – within IT and Training who can respond when primary resources are unavailable, leave the company, etc. Every system needs 24/7 IT support and user help support to respond.

Out-Sourcing Learning Management Services:

The key upsides to Out-Sourcing LMS Services are lower internal capacity requirements [the converse of the costs/risks cited in the In-Sourcing discussion above] and the vendor’s responsibility to manage all software, hosting and administrative matters. For example, client server maintenance and downtime, software patches, upgrades and access security plus all functions relating to user course/curriculum access are managed. A hybrid out-sourcing alternative exists in which the course and curriculum functions are supported by client staff trained on the vendor system.

  • Understanding of the LMS vendor’s services cost structure. Many vendors will charge per-user-course-access fees. For example, in addition to upfront vendor licensing fees, the activity of 100 users per year accessing 20 courses and tests at $5 per access would equal $10,000 in “user fees.” Best to read the fine print.
  • Determine the degree of customization available – such as company logo on access pages, costs for reporting, timing of reporting, security protocols for UserID assignment (internal vs external staff), etc.
  • Time for Training staff to learn how to upload courses, assign courses, create curriculums, enroll/manage users, manage gradebook and reporting in the vendor system. Make sure the vendor has sufficient training and/or help desk resources.
  • Cost to acquire/build course content (SCORM complaint)
  • Time to establish course and LMS organization naming conventions and user groups, upload courses, design curriculums, transfer student records, etc.
  • Establish operational back-up – that is, people – within IT and Training who can respond when primary resources are unavailable, leave the company, etc.

Online Learning Management can be a significant asset to your business. Effective due diligence will enable you to accurately manage all cost and capacity elements while receiving and/or delivering expert Learning Management services.


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