Do You Have the Right - 75

Do You Have the Right People in Your Tribe?

Do you have the tools, structure, and clarity you need to get your business to momentum phase? 

Running a business alone is dang hard.  I prefer to surround myself with those that 

Elevate, Motivate, and Accelerate me…

Who do you have in your tribe fellow Founder, Entrepreneur, and Business Owner?

I’d be happy to share my insights if you want to learn more, feel free to connect with me.

A Final Update on - 74

A Final Update on My Daughter’s LLS Campaign

Wanted to give the “Blacksmith” tribe a final update on my daughter’s #LLS fundraising initiative for a Leadership class she is taking.  Here is a video from her to you (her 2nd video) . 

I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this journey for:

 Encouraging her

 Donating to LLS

 Letting me share her journey with you

This is essentially the reason we created the BSV Launch program inside BlackSmith Ventures…

To help you (my fellow Founder, Entrepreneur, and Business Owner) gain clarity on your business’s current state and find focus on what will drive growth.  Within the BSV Launch Program, we help you cultivate the right mindset and resourcefulness to take your business to new heights and make a lasting impact.

Campbell was an excellent student in the program – if only for a few months.

Are You Controlling - 73

Are You Controlling Your Calendar Or Is It The Other Way Around?

About a month ago, I was sitting down reflecting on the week and making sure I was “moving needles” and not just “busy”.

I asked myself why Monday’s were sucking so bad.

In that moment, I decided to make a change…

If we let our calendars control us, we are losing the game, fellow Founders…

We have an obligation to ourselves, our teams, and our families to proactively schedule our calendar to ensure we are focused, aligned, and not so stressed we are melting down from the rat race.

My challenge to you today, is to look at your calendar and see what is needle moving and what you can cancel.

If you want to learn more, feel free to connect with me.

Forging Success - 72

Forging Success: How Starting a Business is Like Being a BlackSmith

We took a brief trip to our nation’s capital and I stumbled upon the “BlackSmith” shop at George Washington’s homesite.

Here is why we chose to use the “BlackSmith” namesake 

In my early entrepreneurial days, think 2007 timeframe, we would be driving through heartland looking for business partners and we would routinely see what we termed as “BlackSmiths on the Corner”. We’d stop in, most of the time unannounced, and talk ‘shop’.

The phrase “blacksmith on the corner” likely originates from a time when blacksmiths were a common sight in communities, often operating their businesses from a corner location. Blacksmiths were skilled metalworkers who created a variety of metal goods, from household items to horse shoes, using a forge and anvil.

In the days before mass production and industrialization, blacksmiths played a crucial role in their communities, serving as a vital source of goods and services. The phrase “blacksmith on the corner” likely became a popular way of referring to a local blacksmith and his business, due to the prominence and visibility of their location.

Today, I use the phrase to refer to any small, locally-owned business operating in a community, regardless of the specific trade or profession. The phrase evokes a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time, when small businesses and community connections were more prominent.

Being a “smithy” by name, growing up in small town American, and my fondness for the entrepreneur, the founder, and the business owner led me to Founding BlackSmith Ventures.

After exiting my second venture, I realized that early stage startups were my passion and there was an opportunity to help investors make outsized returns while making impact alongside the early stage founder…

If you fit either the investor or the founder, I’d invite you to reach out, DM me, or connect on any social platform.

How Do We Make Investing - 71

How Do We Make Investing Less Boring?  – Enter the Early Stage Venture

My co-founder and I were the original investors in our first venture, ABUTEC.  In fact, we were ultimately the only investors before we exited at an eight figure sum.  How much did we risk?  We both put in $34,500 to get the company launched and we ended up getting a line of credit for $100,000 before it got canceled in our first year because we were “too high risk”.  We found another bank to support us for a year, but ended up with the same result.  But, what I learned in this process is that investing in early stage startups can actually be more about the journey than the money?  Let’s double click on that here.

Investing in early-stage startups can be a high-risk, high-reward proposition. On one hand, you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a potentially hugely successful company, potentially reaping large financial rewards. On the other hand, the majority of startups fail, and investing in them can result in a complete loss of your investment.

As an experienced entrepreneur, I have seen the ups and downs of startup investing firsthand, and I would like to share my thoughts on the risk and reward of this type of investment.

The Risk of Investing in Early-Stage Startups

  • High Failure Rate: The biggest risk associated with investing in early-stage startups is the high failure rate. According to research, about 90% of startups fail within the first five years. This means that there is a high likelihood that the company you invest in will not succeed, and you will lose your entire investment.
  • Uncertainty: Startups are inherently uncertain. They are trying to solve problems that have not yet been solved, and there is no guarantee that their solution will be successful. This uncertainty means that there is no way to accurately predict the future success of a startup, and investing in one is inherently risky.
  • Lack of Liquidity: Another risk associated with investing in startups is the lack of liquidity. Unlike publicly traded stocks, there is no established market for buying and selling startup equity. This means that if you need to sell your investment, it may take some time to find a buyer, and you may have to sell at a discount.
  • Dilution: When a startup raises money, it typically does so by issuing new shares of stock. This dilutes the ownership of existing shareholders, including early investors. As a result, your ownership in the company may decrease over time, even if the company is successful.  There are ways to combat this that we’ll discuss later. 
  • Valuation: Determining the value of a startup can be difficult, if not impossible.  Most founders thing their idea, startup, or new venture is worth a gazillion dollars.  It takes some time to get them to realize that product market fit matters. 

The Reward of Investing in Early-Stage Startups

  • Potential for High Returns: The biggest reward of investing in early-stage startups is the potential for high returns. If the company is successful, your investment could grow significantly in value, potentially leading to a large financial reward.
  • Diversification: Investing in startups can also provide diversification for your investment portfolio. By spreading your investment across multiple startups, you can reduce the risk associated with investing in any one company.
  • Access to Cutting-Edge Technology: Investing in early-stage startups can also give you access to cutting-edge technology and innovative business models. This can be exciting and rewarding in its own right, and it can also provide valuable insights that can help you in your own business ventures.  The world is changing fast and staying close to the action is one way to give the investor an advantage.  
  • Opportunity to Play a Role: This is my personal favorite. Investing in early-stage startups can also give you the opportunity to play an active role in the company. You can provide mentorship and support to the founder, and you can help shape the direction of the company. This can be a rewarding experience and can also increase the chances of the company’s success.
  • Networking Opportunities: Finally, investing in early-stage startups can also provide valuable networking opportunities. You will have the opportunity to connect with other successful entrepreneurs and investors, and you may be able to leverage these relationships to further your own business interests.

How to Minimize the Risk of Investing in Startups

I think the biggest determinant of success is a combination of the Founder, their team, and discovering what drives them to ensure success.

If you’re an investor looking to find a playground of fun in this ever changing world, early stage ventures may be the place to diversify your portfolio, have a ton of fun, and make what I call and “infinite impact” – which at the end may prove to us that the journey inside early stage ventures brings more joy than the money.

For more information on investing and early stage ventures, visit me online on all social platforms at AndySmithLife.

-Andy Smith “The BlackSmith”

Founding CEO of BlackSmith Ventures

The Power Of Excellent - 70

The Power Of Excellent Customer Service To Your Business Growth

Owners of small businesses have a superpower if you choose to pull out your most powerful weapon… 

The BlackSmith Tool you have as a small business is SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS.

Here are three (3) things we must do inside our blue-collar, old-school, niche manufacturing businesses to put us ahead of the big boys…

 – When someone calls, emails, or messages us have someone knowledgeable as the first point of contact… Ain’t nobody got time to be put on hold.

 – Quote Quickly… Know your business, your shop, and your product well enough that you can give pricing quickly.

 – Over Deliver… Go above and beyond.

Don’t let your biggest asset stay in your tool belt, fellow founders…

Connect with me if you want to learn more.

Why Is It So Hard To - 69

Why Is It So Hard To Invest In Early Stage Startups?

I founded BlackSmith Ventures to create impact for two different groups.  On one side is the investor – someone who wants to take their resources, experience, and wisdom and deploy that into innovative early stage ventures.  The other group is the entrepreneur & founder – these are individuals who are looking to turn a dream into reality.  To avoid the pitfalls, risk, and difficulty with early stage startups, we put together what we call the BSV Launch Playbook which we use inside (and outside) our ventures.  So, when you hear investing in early stage startups can be a challenging and risky venture, just know that it can also be incredibly rewarding – if done right. 

Here are a few reasons why investing in early stage startups can be difficult, but ultimately worthwhile:

  • Limited Information: Early stage startups often lack the track record and history of established businesses, making it more difficult to assess the risks and potential rewards. As an investor, you may have to rely on limited information, including financial projections and market research, to determine whether a startup is worth the investment.
  • Uncertainty: Early stage startups are by definition in a state of flux. They are trying to find their footing and build momentum, which can lead to unpredictable outcomes. You may be investing in a startup that has a great idea, but struggles to execute or faces unexpected obstacles. This uncertainty can be daunting for investors, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of investing in early stage companies.
  • High Failure Rate: According to some estimates, as many as 90% of startups fail within the first few years. This high failure rate can be discouraging for investors, but it’s important to remember that failure is a natural part of the startup ecosystem. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed multiple times before finding their stride, and it’s important to view failure as a learning opportunity rather than a setback.

Despite these challenges, there are many reasons to be optimistic about investing in early stage startups. Here are a few potential benefits:

  • Early Access to Innovative Ideas: Investing in early stage startups can give you access to innovative ideas and technologies before they hit the mainstream. By investing early, you can help shape the direction of the company and potentially reap significant rewards down the line.
  • Potential for High Returns: While the failure rate of startups is high, the potential for high returns is also significant. By investing in the right company at the right time, you can potentially realize significant gains over time.
  • Opportunity to Make a Difference: Investing in early stage startups can be a way to make a difference in the world by supporting companies that are tackling important problems and making a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

Overall, investing in early stage startups can be difficult, but ultimately rewarding. By understanding the potential risks and rewards, and approaching investing with an open mind and a willingness to learn, you can position yourself for success in the world of early stage startup investing.

If you’re an Investor looking to make impact or an entrepreneur with a dream to concur, let’s talk…  You can learn more about me by clicking here, or about our BSV Launch program by clicking here.  

  • Limited Information: Early stage startups often lack the track record and history of established businesses, making it more difficult to assess the risks and potential rewards. As an investor, you may have to rely on limited information, including financial projections and market research, to determine whether a startup is worth the investment.
  • Uncertainty: Early stage startups are by definition in a state of flux. They are trying to find their footing and build momentum, which can lead to unpredictable outcomes. You may be investing in a startup that has a great idea, but struggles to execute or faces unexpected obstacles. This uncertainty can be daunting for investors, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of investing in early stage companies.
  • High Failure Rate: According to some estimates, as many as 90% of startups fail within the first few years. This high failure rate can be discouraging for investors, but it’s important to remember that failure is a natural part of the startup ecosystem. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed multiple times before finding their stride, and it’s important to view failure as a learning opportunity rather than a setback.

Despite these challenges, there are many reasons to be optimistic about investing in early stage startups. Here are a few potential benefits:

  • Early Access to Innovative Ideas: Investing in early stage startups can give you access to innovative ideas and technologies before they hit the mainstream. By investing early, you can help shape the direction of the company and potentially reap significant rewards down the line.
  • Potential for High Returns: While the failure rate of startups is high, the potential for high returns is also significant. By investing in the right company at the right time, you can potentially realize significant gains over time.
  • Opportunity to Make a Difference: Investing in early stage startups can be a way to make a difference in the world by supporting companies that are tackling important problems and making a positive impact in their communities and beyond.

Overall, investing in early stage startups can be difficult, but ultimately rewarding. By understanding the potential risks and rewards, and approaching investing with an open mind and a willingness to learn, you can position yourself for success in the world of early stage startup investing.
If you’re an Investor looking to make impact or an entrepreneur with a dream to concur, let’s talk…  You can learn more about me by clicking here, or about our BSV Launch program by clicking here.

Investing in Early-stage - 68

Investing in Early-stage Startups is Fun

Yes, investing in early-stage startups is risky…  Yes, the path is not always clear… Yes, it can very financially rewarding…  Yes, it will build the muscles, wisdom, and fortitude to make 

REAL and LASTING IMPACT

I’m a huge believer in investing in early-stage and small businesses when:

 – The Founder, Entrepreneur, or Operator is Open Minded and Self Propelled

 – There is Product / Market Fit

 – They are willing to use the BSV Launch Playbook (this is our internal proven process to grow and scale great ventures into Momentum Phase).

The longer I play this game, the more confident I get in the notion that entrepreneurship is a sport and the longer you’re in the game, the more opportunities you will see results in making an Infinite Impact.

If you’re an investor and want to partner alongside us in our deals or see some of our deal flow, feel free to connect with me.

Are You Planning - 67

Are You Planning to Invest In Early-Stage Startups?

Data shows that there is an appetite to invest in small and early-stage businesses.

Here are a few interesting stats around high-net-worth individuals and where they like to invest. 

 According to a survey by UBS Investor Watch, nearly 70% of investors with $1 million or more in investable assets say they would like to invest directly in private equity and other alternative investments. This suggests a significant appetite for private investments among high-net-worth individuals.

 The Angel Capital Association (ACA) reports that the median investment size for angel investors in the United States is around $25,000. This suggests that many angel investors have less than $3,000,000 to invest and are looking for smaller investment opportunities.

 The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that over 96,000 small business loans were made in the fiscal year 2020 through the agency’s 7(a) loan program, which is designed to help small businesses access capital. The average loan size was around $531,000, which suggests that many small business investors are looking for relatively small investment opportunities.

 The crowdfunding industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe helping entrepreneurs and small businesses raise millions of dollars from small investors. According to a report by Crowdfunding Insider, the global crowdfunding market was valued at around $13.9 billion in 2020.

What do you find is the biggest challenge when investing in smaller, early-stage ventures? Let me know in the comments. 

Feel free to connect with me if you want to learn more.

What Important Factors - 66

What Important Factors Do You Keep Your Focus On?

Funny story… Started first venture in 2007, recapped in 2012. We took a few of our early employees to Miami to celebrate (baby faces), and yesterday I had lunch at that same spot. Reflected on 

What factors led to that success?

 It took an amazing amount of unwavering faith to never give up, keep going, and persevere through some insanely tough times.

 It took meeting “just the right people” at “just the right time” –> being in the game.

 It took being laser-focused on two key areas 

 The first was keeping costs low. My co-founder lived in Europe and would come over every 6-8 weeks. We bootstrapped this baby with a $34,500 initial investment each. We shared everything from a budget hotel, and Waffle House meal, to traveling hundreds of miles in a truck we borrowed from family to find suppliers and partners (the blacksmiths of today).

 The second was an insane focus on what we now call “ATTRACT” within our BSV Launch Program. Our time, energy, and efforts were spent on

– Targeting our ideal avatar/customer {SALES}
– Building up our brand {MARKETING}

The tools, methods, and practices have radically changed in the last 15 years – to allow us to now go much faster, but the discipline and focus on the process remain the same.

I’ll be going LIVE tomorrow from Miami at the Natural Disaster Expo (technology willing, ha)… Stay tuned for more details…