Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Let's Raise Capital for Your Business Venture!

  • Are you buying a business and need to seek financing with a lender?
  • Are you starting a new business with your own money (bootstrapping), and would like to learn how to approach others to invest in you and your idea?
  • Are you thinking about scaling up your business and need capital beyond what conventional lending can provide? 

The first steps you need to take when seeking capital are a business plan and presentation that sell your idea, and your ability to talk the language of business.

My business plans use proprietary influence strategies, a proven presentation style, and a pro forma that delights underwriters and investors!









Let's Raise Capital for Your Business Venture!

  • Are you buying a business and need to seek financing with a lender?
  • Are you starting a new business with your own money (bootstrapping), and would like to learn how to approach others to invest in you and your idea?
  • Are you thinking about scaling up your business and need capital beyond what conventional lending can provide? 

The first steps you need to take when seeking capital are a business plan and presentation that sell your idea, and your ability to talk the language of business.

My business plans use proprietary influence strategies, a proven presentation style, and a pro forma that delights underwriters and investors!









Saturday, April 22, 2017

What is Your Business Mindset?

By Kevin L. Baker, MBA

 Click here to sign up for Kevin's free "Peak Your Potential" Newsletter


The Realization of My Personal Business Mindset

In my life, I grew up working in our family printing business founded by my father.  After getting a Bachelors degree, I have also worked in corporate life beginning in middle management rising to the executive offices as a CFO and then President (the American title for what other countries call a Managing Director).  I have worked for public and private companies, and been an entrepreneur starting a non-profit and two for profits businesses. 

Having worked in both entrepreneurial and corporate environments, I know that my greatest happiness and performance at work occurs when I work in an environment where my personal basic business mindset matches that of the organization where I work.  

I have realized that I work best in a business environment where the entrepreneur mindset I learned from my father (and genetics) is combined with just enough structure to have efficient and productive systems on board.  

Now, let's ask an important question: Are you more entrepreneurial or corporate minded?  You need to work with people who share your mindset and who think like you do and appreciate that view to be happy and reach your peak performance.  

The environment you work in is fundamentally either ENTREPRENEUR (E) OR CORPORATE (C).  Neither is bad. Just radically different. Are you on the right team?  A good match between a person and where they work occurs when you ask, "Am I right for this organization, and is this organization right for me?"  The answer is found by looking at the contrasts between the E and C mindset.  

The Two Fundamental Business Mindsets Contrasted

Am I an "E" or a "C" in my basic business mindset?

1.  Change or Stability

  • E sees an environment of change as good and normal. Change makes things better and brings improvement.  If there is no change there is no growth. Cs may think things are stable, but stability is an illusion. Markets in the tech age are dynamic and changing.  We must learn to live with ambiguity.  Nothing is sure forever. 
  • C sees change as a threat to stability, a risk, and disruptive.  Change must be incremental, carefully planned, and managed.  

2.  Personal or Impersonal

  • E remains focused on relationships with customers and clients as the most important thing whether they are truly entrepreneur startups or mature companies.  A certain segment of buyers prefer to do business with companies that keep it personal.  They do not like being treated as "just a number."  If you perceive that quality is always sacrificed for quantity, and that deep relationships with clients and customers are the priority, you are an E.
  • C sees a meaningful personal connection as costly.  The cost of growth is providing more transactions to more customers or clients.  A positive customer experience and lower prices to more people is the best model. While relationships will not be able to be as deep as in an entrepreneurial business, the population of people seeking lower prices is more than those wanting the deep, personal relationship that a small or young business provides. 

3.  Flexible or Fixed

  • E sees being flexible in the approach to business as what it takes to thrive, keep things relevant and interesting so people remain engaged, and the wellspring of continuous improvement. 
  • C sees a fixed environment as fair, reasonable, and the only way to prevent chaos and division.

4.  Do or Study

  • E business mindset is to learn by doing.  Trial and error will produce iterations which further learning. 
  • C mindset is to research and study, run focus groups, and require careful project planning to conserve resources by getting it right the first time.  

5.  Windscreen or Rear-View Mirror 

  • E business mindset is a focus on where we are right now.  To use the analogy of driving a car, the focus is looking forward through the windscreen, not where we have been in the rear-view mirror.  Rewards come by being resourceful and producing results right now in the great game of business. 
  • C business mindset is oriented to "the rear view mirror." It rewards by seniority, loyalty to the company, the status of prior achievement, and how you play the game.

Why Your Business Mindset Matters


The best combination for your personal achievement is when you match your business mindset with the environment you work in.  Am I right for the company and is the company right for me?

If you are an E, you belong on Team E.  If you are a C, work on Team C.  If you an an E/C then seek to live out your business mindset on Team E/C.  Both the person and organization will be happier and more successful by asking, "What's your business mindset?" when job seeking, hiring, and evaluating the growth and performance of a company. 

Visit Kevin's consulting and coaching website!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Living in Sydney--A Thriving Entrepreneurship Center


Living in Sydney--A Thriving Entrepreneurship Center

G'day from down under!  I have exciting news to share with everyone who follows my blog. First, innovation and startup are a huge part of my professional life, and have now guided me in my personal life to live in one of the world's premiere cities--Sydney, Australia!

This city is a thriving center of innovation and entrepreneurship.  I have a lot to share with everyone in the USA about what is going on here in the innovation and entrepreneurship space.  In coming posts, I will share the many opportunities for Americans wanting to invest or sell products here.  First, let me quickly catch you up on me.  



Why I am Living in Sydney

I relocated to Sydney in November 2016 after visiting here many times over the past two years.  My move is strictly personal as I am married to an Australian and we decided to make our home here.  I loved my life in Western New York. Three of my grown children and grandchildren live in Western New York.  I also have a daughter and a grandchild in Virginia.  Being back in America to visit my mother and family each year is a must.

Now that I am running an international business with clients in the States and here in Australia (known as Oz here), Sydney is our home base, but we will also spend time in the USA between Buffalo, New York and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  



What I am Doing

After almost three decades in corporate and non-profit executive management, I have launched out as an entrepreneur.  Working for another family building their vision and balance sheet without an equity stake became too constraining for me.  I am now building my own portfolio business full-time under my Kevin Baker Inc. flagship.  

Kevin Baker Inc. is my business consulting practice founded in 2012 in New York.  My original consulting business continues with clients in New York and now here in Sydney specializing in:
  • M&A Advisory and business brokering.  
  • Due diligence services for business buyers.
  • Exit and succession strategies for sellers all the way through sale.  
  • Capital sourcing strategies--Working with existing business owners, startups, and business buyers on business plans; presentation decks for lenders, seed capital, angel investing, and venture capital; and cap tables. 
  • General management consulting with a focus on strategic growth.




I have also added a Chair Group practice providing group and 1:1 executive coaching affiliated with The Executive Connection (TEC) in North Sydney.  In the USA, I had been a member of the executive peer mentoring organization Vistage.  TEC is the Aussie counterpart to Vistage. So I have changed which seat I sit in--from member to Group Chair.  

And finally, after 10 years leading a food manufacturing company with sales channels in major grocery stores, I am working on launching a line of "New York Style" branded food products in the market here.


What I am Excited About

One of the first steps I took as a former college professor in a new country is to find my way into the academic ecosystem here.  

I was very excited discovering the "Gather, Innovate, and Grow Engine (GIG Engine) Created by the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and NewSouth Innovations (NSi) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney Australia.  Initiatives like this help people like me meet the new people in a new country!  

What's New?

As an American living abroad, I am still reading the same websites, talking to the same people, and have a USA phone number so I am very connected to America.  The only difference is travel takes a bit longer to see clients!  I now rely more on Go to Meeting, Messenger, and Google Hangouts to see Americans when I am here in Sydney.  

Here in Sydney, I am enjoying meeting new people and building a new network.  It is a true entrepreneurial work here, and I am loving it.  

So, with all that and more new with me (I will tell you more later), what's new with you?  I am launching my "Peak Your Potential" podcast in the near future and will be interviewing many whose life and business stories will inspire others to push toward the summit of their life potential--so please write if you think others in Australia and the USA would like to hear about your story!

Keep climbing!

Kevin 













Friday, March 18, 2016

Beneficence: Looking Out for The Welfare of Your Customer



One should render positive assistance to others (and abstain from harm) 
by helping them to further their important and legitimate interests. 

I heard Max Levchin, the 40 year-old entrepreneur famous for his roles in Affirm, Glow, Slide, Yelp, Yahoo, and Paypal, say, "You can conduct yourself as a business ACTIVELY DOING GOOD for your customer."  

We live in a refreshing time in the world of business.   As technology has made the world smaller and connected us, people are beginning to care about each other and what we do to live in this world.  The internet has us doing commerce with people who are not local.  We need to trust people we may never meet when we buy and sell things online or live in other people's homes via Airbnb.  

In business, ethics go beyond doing what is contractually right.  In today's business economy, being emotionally intelligent and having relationally mature people-skills is a trend that has replaced the "buyer-beware" horse trader doing harm mentality of previous generations.  

Doing good to our neighbor, once viewed as a liability in business, is now a competitive advantage for those who are truly good people with motives to help their customers.  Let's face it.  People are tired of playing "Got ya" games in business.  Ethical principles in the new world of business are:


  • Actively do good to your customers (internal and external) so that work matters and is making a positive difference in the world. 
  • Business focus is on people, products, and purpose--not just profit.  
  • Company loyalty comes from work being a family that supports its employees families.  
  • A work environment needs to value those who create its value.  An unpleasant work environment is not tolerated today.
  • Be accountable

Are you an early adopter or laggard in the new business world? How you answer this question has a lot to do with where you are on the continuum of success.  


Sunday, March 6, 2016

When I Start a Business How Do I Pay People Without Money?

Business Incubator and Activator Series 1.1

Last year my son and I pondered launching a consulting business together.  As always, startup capital and which of us would get paid as partners (and how) were on the table.  He had left his day job and I had not.  So that was question was easy!  

At the time, we were working as consultants with John Gavigan and 43 North, the wildly successful Buffalo, NY incubator and activator at the heart of the Buffalo business renaissance.  In new ventures, a common question by the entrepreneur is: "I really need a partner for startup capital, but we have not gone to revenue yet.  Got any ideas?"  As a matter of fact, yes, I do.

I can’t pay them…

Who says you need to? You can get people to work with/for you by providing many different forms of compensation besides monetary. Sounds far fetched and I really doubted this at first, my initial impressions was that people would only work with you if they have a deep stake and feel like they’re part of the founding team. WRONG.
Here are some alternative ways of compensating people who can help you build your startup:
  • Equity – yes, you can give equity without making someone a co-founder. Just make sure it’s vested.
  • Revenue sharing – and agreement to split the equity generated from a specific project/product. You can add clauses that limit duration and determine the portion of the split.
  • Strategic partnership – working alongside partners to provide them value with your product/service in exchange for them helping you build it up.
For help getting past constraints and roadblocks as you build your business, email me anytime!  --Kevin 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Five Challenges of a Family Business

Image result for family business


In 1977, my father ventured out on his own as an entrepreneur to start our family printing business, Port of Printing.  As the oldest son of a business-owning father, I experienced organizational dynamics I would only learn to put terms to many years later as a graduate student in an MBA program.  

My being the oldest son in a family business set the course of my career.  The small to medium-size family owned business (SMB) is where I have spent most of my life in both middle and now senior management roles.  


For those new to the SMB world, Gartner Group defines SMBs as follows: Small businesses are usually defined as organizations with fewer than 100 employees; midsize enterprises are those organizations with 100 to 999 employees. The second most popular attribute used to define the SMB market is annual revenue: small business is usually defined as organizations with less than $50 million in annual revenue; midsize enterprise is defined as organizations that make more than $50 million, but less than $1 billion in annual revenue.

 
Recently, I have had the privilege of working with a great family in creating and executing a continuity plan as the family has become older and decided to have its first non-family key executives.  

Here are five challenges of working in family a business:


 1.  Family politics: Many family businesses operate like a gang or The Mafia.  As family members, we need to focus on building a strong family as the core of the business. As non-family members, you will never be part of the family (even when owners like to say you are), so never take sides when family members discuss family issues. 


2.   Change: Growth of business means learning how to deal with honoring the past while creatively destroying it in order to keep competitors from destroying you first. 


3.  Communication is at the heart of leadership: The flow of information between management, owners, and board is critical to decision-making, change, and growth.  This is the essence of governance and leadership.  
When there is "back channel" communication (i.e., triangulation), gossip about family members, and negative judgments without direct conversation, family tensions will be high and dissension present. 

4.   Culture: As a big fan of Dr. John Ward's work on family business, I find his definition of family business culture both accurate and academically precise: "Culture is the result of what a particular group of people think and share together as being most important to them (values) and as a result, their shared basic beliefs influence the ways they interact with each other and with the world around them."

 5.  Anxiety: Learning to handle uncertainty with maturity can either make or break morale, engagement, and productivity in a business. Consultants are great tools for processing anxiety to prevent blame, scapegoating, triangulation, and Groupthink from taking over. 

These top five issues in family businesses also apply to larger corporations.  Innovation and entrepreneurial success flow from how well we navigate these management waters.  I am looking forward to taking a deeper dive into these and other topics in coming months.  See you there. 









Friday, April 3, 2015

Creativity, Design, and Innovation


Creativity is an inborn capacity for thinking differently than most, seeing differently, and making connections and perceiving relationships others miss. But most importantly, it is the ability to then extrapolate contextually useful ways of employing that data: 
to create something that meets a specific challenge.
 (Andy Rutledge)

Flying back from a baking conference in Florida, I was once again (as I am most days) thinking out what is next in our strategy for growing our sales revenues in a competitive and mature industry.  As I watched my son work a puzzle on his iPad I was thinking how developing new business ideas is like a puzzle or chess game.

Creativity, design, and innovation are always my big three drivers of growth. My son and I joke that our creative genes are regarded by some people as unconventional.  Exactly! 

Creativity is essentially the development of an idea.

Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system.  Design moves obstacles to the creative idea using new conventions or plans.  This is why I laugh when people say we are unconventional.  If we did what everyone else does we would get results equal to, or more likely, less than what others get.


Innovation is turning ideas into value.  Creative people such as artists often die poor because they never learned or desired to monetize their creativity. 

As I was flying home thinking about the market trends presented at the American Bakers Association, I was thinking about the future needs, opportunities, and trends emerging in the tastes of American consumers.  For years we have been building a creativity, design, and innovation culture.  In future blogs I will share some of our learning.

Andy Rutledge quote from Wendren Setzer at The Wren Design 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Innovation Engineering

Dr. W Edwards Deming was the American Statistician credited with helping rebuild Japan after World War II. The founder of Toyota said, “Dr. Deming is the core of our management.”   The Japanese credit Dr. Deming with teaching them in the 1950s to “work smarter not harder” and become the first producers of continually improving cars and electronics.

Today I am reading about the Eureka Ranch, and Doug Hall's "Innovation Engineering."  Good stuff. Watch this video while available! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Age Matters With Innovation



Ken Bates, Chair of the Department of Business at Houghton College in Upstate New York, sent me an interesting New York Times article that I share with you below.  It sparked my thinking about age, work, and innovation. 

Business is definitely a competition, and one advantage younger participants often try to leverage is the benefit of having fewer hours logged on the clock of life.  Younger workers are perceived as more flexible, lower cost, more future potential, more energetic, and so forth.  Older workers are caricatured as set in their ways, slowing down, resistant to change, and lacking fresh ideas.
As a middle age executive level manager, I look at those behind and ahead seeing great value in both cohorts.

Our organization is comprised of
people of various ages.  Each age segment adds value to our organization and in turn, we value all our workers on the basis of their contribution. 


We have employees in their 60s and 70s who are harder and smarter workers and in better physical shape than some of our younger team members.  Our older employees are often coming up with our better ideas.


On our team, we have a 20 something recent biz school grad Operations Manager with a great analytical and operational mind who developed our lean manufacturing plan.  He co-manages with a Production Manager almost 60.  As a 40 something I lead the team and our innovation initiatives. 
While our younger team members add great value, they also carry liabilities. 

The major downsides of a younger workforce I see are as follows.  1.) Lack of experience leading to errors (and added costs), 2.) An entitlement attitude (a millennial generation issue of trophy kids and helicopter parents), and 3.) A lesser work ethic on average than those older.  Our older team members do trend toward being too conservative when it comes to risk for growth, yet also do bring most of our product innovation to the table. 


As the following article and study point out, innovation production is simply not being produced as much by younger innovators as older innovators due to the reasons presented below.  This is indeed true in our organization as well.