Whether you’re a launching a new product or a new startup, business planning and funding takes a huge amount of time. Now you can cut weeks – or maybe even months – off of the business planning and fundraising process of your new business idea. Before you do anything else, get to know these 2 great websites.
Awesome Planning Site: Enloop
Enloop is a powerful new business plan site from Cynthia McCahon, the founder of SamplePlan. Unlike her first effort, this is not about buying a fill-in-the-blank template. In fact, it’s much more powerful.
Enloop asks very specific questions about your new effort and helps you shape a very compelling business plan of your own. It makes the hardest parts easy, and the easy parts fast.
Need a 3-year projected balance sheet? Enloop puts it together for you. (This is something that I have been known to skip because it simply takes too long to work out!)
And the best part — enloop compares your idea to other companies in the same industry, giving you a numerical score to judge your likely business success. Change the amount of sales you are projecting, and improve your score. Project a loss for too long, and your score goes down.
OK, that’s probably an oversimplification. I spoke to Cynthia about how this all works: She’s not going to give away her (patented!) secret sauce, but she assures me that the scoring system is built on solid risk management techniques.
This is the kind of logic a big bank will use, too. And the score will have influence on Angel investors and VC funding, too. If your score is not above the 400 point “Passing Grade,” you can pay a small fee to learn how to improve the score — and your business.
Check out enloop before you sit down to write your next business plan — or even if you just want to improve your current plan!
Awesome Funding Site: Gust
Gust lives up to its name. It’s a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs who are looking for funding.
Gust does for small business fundraising what Facebook does for friendship. It makes it easy for potential friends (I mean investors) to find you, and it gives them just enough information about you to whet their appetite. If you approve the investor as your “friend,” they can then check out a more complete business description and detailed financial information.
It works the other way, too. Browse through their extensive database of Angel and VC groups to find one that suits you. It automatically sorts by geography (most investors stay close to home). Gust.com currently lacks a really strong way to search for investors (like filtering on industry preference), but I’m sure that’s in the works.
Like Facebook, Gust.com is free and simple to use. I created an account and a profile in about 10 minutes. The site allows for much more complexity, of course. You can add videos of yourself pitching the business (or any video, for that matter). You can attach files full of Excel spreadsheets or market research. Really, you can take it as deep as you want to go.
Gust.com is technically in “beta,” but it’s built on a very solid platform that was previously known as “AngelSoft.net” and is fully endorsed by the Angel Capital Association and several other national groups. This site will be around a long time.
No website can substitute for human experience and relationships. I will always argue for using a consultant in these situations. But these are two tools that startup entrepreneurs have needed for a long time. Gust and enloop address a huge need: building “fundable” business plans and then actually getting them funded.
If you use both, I think you’ll improve your chances of getting investment a hundredfold.
Dedicated to your (startup) success,