Moderator Note (Andy): Patrick is a member of the YEC, an invite-only nonprofit membership organization that provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth. Each month they send out entrepreneurial-related questions to its members for publication on their site and are also made available to the media. Here is Part 2 of Patrick's answers (see part 1 here):
What's one piece of advice you have for a business owner who wants to sell an existing website?
Focus on increasing traffic numbers first through good on site SEO rather than flawless design and user interface so that when a potential buyer sees an ugly face with big numbers, they can envision an even more successful site after a face-lift. Savvy buyers will value a site with an established traffic base more than one with a pretty design.
What's one common networking mistake or turnoff that you see business owners make?
They try to make the close too fast and they don't focus enough on value they are providing you.
Name one thing you wish you knew about money and finances while starting up. Did it lead to a mistake? (If you know of an online resource for others to learn about it, please include it in your answer.)
Know the limitations of your corporate structure. Incorporating under an S Corp or an LLC can impact how you are able to distribute excess cash flow.
What importance would you place on having a mentor in business and in life? (Say one reason why you think so)
I think it is very important to have a mentor that you can bounce ideas off of and can guide you as you approach critical decisions in your business.
Fundraising: Should I bootstrap or raise angel/VC financing? Why?
This really depends on the nature of the business. If it's online, I'd argue the majority of online businesses can be successfully bootstrapped. However, if it is a capital intensive business or if you have physical locations, you may need to do at least one angel round or tap friends and family to get it off the ground. When in doubt, retaining control is optimal, but whether or not you are able to do this really depends on your own resources and the interest from angels/VCs.
What Web tool do you recommend to help small business owners manage people better -- whether hours logged or feedback about job performance, or other HR-related tasks? (name one only)
I would highly recommend Trello as a tool to manage sub-groups within your organization. As a simple project management tool, Trello is simple enough so everyone can catch on quickly and you can see the status of each task as it moves through stages. On Wall Street Oasis and jdOasis.com, we also use Trello as an editorial calendar with set time slots to keep track of who is assigned a specific day & time.
What is ONE piece of advice would you give to a disgruntled 9-to-5-
Start working on building your own business after hours. If you REALLY want to escape but you still need that steady paycheck, you have to put in the time after hours to get yourself as far along as possible before making the leap.
How should an aspiring entrepreneur balance academic study and work experience? (name one tip)
I feel like joining a small start up in the summer as an intern and getting good exposure to a variety of functions (marketing, sales, web development, customer service), is likely the best way to develop new skills and gain a greater appreciation of how to build a business. Don't let your academics slide because you think you're developing the next Instagram.