Meet the Team, Follow Progress and Enjoy the Ride

This blog is about the lives of a few entrepreneurs who are aiming to establish the next trend in social networking and the concept that will make it happen. Since our venture is all about connecting people together, we want to be involved and connected to you and we want you to be involved and connected to us. We'll be sharing with you: who we are, how we got started, how we’re doing and where we’re going...we're taking you along for the ride!!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Business Partnerships

When I thought of the concept, which is now known as Why Go Solo, three people came to mind right away. Each person possessed distinct skills which could be leveraged to make Why Go Solo happen and successful. Like I mentioned, in the post Tick Tock, I emailed each of them right away to tell them about the concept. Less then a week after I sent the email, we all met up to further discuss the idea. This was mid to end of February.

Everyone loved it and everyone wanted to be involved. We arranged to have brunch with our significant others (well, except for me, I’m single) in order to bounce the idea around some more and to get to know each other in a different environment and around loved ones. Brunch was a hit and it was obvious we had a killer team.

This is when I came up with a laundry list of deliverables we needed to address and get started on. The due dates for the first deliverables came and went…and I didn’t get much of a response. We decided to meet again to address where we were and that turned out more into a brainstorming session for the name (yes, you guessed it, that will be a later post). We did address at that time how busy two of the potential partners were with their own undertakings and businesses, which made it very difficult for them to be involved.

I was very bummed out when I left the meeting on March 16, 2007. We had come up with a name, which was awesome, but I knew I had lost two of my partners. Thankfully, both individuals were very honest about their situations and availability. Both individuals, who are also entrepreneurs, were fully conscious of the hard work, dedication and time required to start a new venture and the fact they couldn’t completely commit. It was over a month later since the initial conception of the idea; I was feeling anxious to move faster and I felt like I was facing a set back.

It wasn’t really a set back though. I had learned in my previous business that you definitely don’t want partners who are not as committed and as involved as you are because that only causes resentment and problems. We all knew that and the decision they made was a hard one, but one, that has saved our friendships and opened the door for each of them to become involve in the future. Both of them have been very supportive in their own ways.

This is when things were left to me and Martin. The partnership between me and Martin has grown into an exemplarily partnership.

Martin has different skills, strengths, weaknesses, view points and even future desires then me. However, we both have the same values, work ethics and vision to make a positive impact on the world. We compliment each other very well and we both end up taking a variety of roles in situations.

We haven’t always agreed and we haven’t always seen eye to eye. The really exciting thing about this to me is that, normally in my life, when I haven’t gotten my way in a partnership/relationship, it’s always been easier to just get out of it. My pattern has been to take the path of least resistance and stick to being on my own. However, given that I desperately want Why Go Solo, abandoning the partnership wasn’t an option. I need Martin to make this happen. I want this more then anything else in the world; it means more to me then my pride, my stubbornness and my old ways. This also meant I needed to trust Martin completely.

It took some time, but through many conversations, experiencing the ups and downs together and meeting many different people in each other’s circles of friends and business associates we grew closer and improved our communication. I am blessed that Martin is very patient, understanding, compassionate and as dedicated to making Why Go Solo happen as I am.

When I see Martin and Ruth now, it warms my heart and they are truly like family to me. Ruth even gives me food to take home and lets me borrow clothes!!

I feel very fortunate to have found such wonderful partners. I told Martin, now that I am handling being in a partnership, that may be, just may be, I’m finally ready for a relationship…but that’s another story.

Bottom line when you consider taking on business partners, make sure they bring to the partnership the skills and strengths you don’t yourself possess, make sure they are just as fully committed with their time, energy and financials; also, make sure they have the same values and work ethics. Lastly, make sure you can trust them and know that they are now part of your family.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Road to Funding (Part 1)

Bumps, severe curves, road blocks, detours and a few dead ends…are all part of going down the road to securing funding for a new venture. I guess, to some extent, we haven’t gone about this completely the right way, so driving school is initially recommended as well. We ended up putting all our eggs in one basket, instead of spreading the joy and seeing how many investors we could get to bite and THEN go with the best option.

Once we were getting closer to having the business plan completed, I started doing some research into venture capital (VC) funding and angel investors. More about what I learned in later posts, since this is still ongoing and I’m still learning, but I included links to Wikipedia in case anyone wanted some definitions of what I’m talking about.

VC Funding:

Angel Investors:

Now, there are other options to raising funds, such as, finding companies who specialize in raising funds through their own pool of qualified investors (we actually found such a company and ended up declining their offer, which might have been a mistake, but we’ll never know) or finding a broker who acts as the middle man. There are a lot of fakes and scammers out there, so this can become risky and confusing. We definitely have been keeping our lawyer involved throughout the process.

The reading I did, did little to make me feel better about our odds with VCs, or to ease the stress that seems to be involved in the due diligence process and I also wasn’t too sure we would get to maintain the majority of our company, once it was all said and done. On top of it all, the entire process appeared to take forever and could end up not panning out.

I was being extremely unrealistic; I wanted guarantees and the money right away. In retrospect, besides being unrealistic, I was being impatient like a five year old kid in a grocery store, who not only desperately wants a candy bar but wants to eat it right there and then instead of waiting till after dinner like a good kid. I wanted a miracle. I wanted someone to show up, read the plan, ask little to no questions, fully trust us, give us the money and then give us the leeway to make it all happen.

I’m finally done being delirious. I want Why Go Solo more then words can express, so I’ll do whatever it takes to see it come to life, which includes, being patient. I’m not saying it’s easy at all, it’s actually exceptionally painful. Deep in my heart, I still want a miracle, while my head tells me, it’s time to be pragmatic.

The One Basket

The one basket we placed all our eggs into is a man I met back in November. His intentions to help us are truly sincere, what I’m not fully sure about at this point are all the other factors, which have to first come into play for him to be able to help us. He needs to close a few deals of his own to be able to focus on us and have funding himself to help. Faith is an amazing and wonderful thing, but sometimes it simply takes more then faith alone. Faith and action are what make things and miracles happen.

The Road Map

The way we are going to forge ahead is by re-engaging with VCs and Angel Investor Networks. We are going to take a closer look at our own network and see who might be able to get us personal introductions to some investors. We are back at square one. Well, not completely back at square one…we are a little wiser, better prepared and stronger in a few different ways.

I’m going to review the business plan and finish the online applications I started a while back and have faith and hope that we will attract many interested investors. I’m ready now and prepared to go through whatever process they have for us.

Writing the Business Plan

This is definitely not an official post on how to go about writing a business plan, but rather, a recap of what the experience was like for me and the steps I took.

The first business plan I ever wrote, which was for the Coaching Agency, was done based off reading a few books on the subject. Thankfully, the books also provided a few examples and outlines of specific parts every business plans need to have. I couldn’t cut and paste but I could, at least, plagiarize a little. This second time around, I borrowed some software (Business Plan Pro 2006) from a friend. Okay, I didn’t borrow it. He highly recommended I use it, since you can actually insert test and simply massage it to meet your needs. I thought: “Hey, alright, that ought to make things real easy”

Once the software was loaded on my laptop, I took the following steps:

Step One: I bought a double fudge chocolate cake, made a full pot of coffee and conjured up some fake motivation in an attempt to get started on writing the plan. The cake and coffee were a way to bribe myself into getting this done or at least started. So, once I was done eating the chocolate cake and drinking massive amounts of coffee (this is, btw, the reason I gained 15 plus pounds with my first business) I was all hyped up on caffeine and sugar, but hadn’t really gotten far at all.

That’s the thing with me when it comes to writing…it’s all there in my head, but getting it out can be quite challenging.

Step Two: I surfed the internet…more specifically Craiglists and the men seeking women section and decided to call it “research”. Funny thing about that, is that, I found myself really enjoying many of the posts I read. A vast majority were very well written, thought out and seemed truly genuine.

Step Three: I answered a few posts, and by a few, I mean probably close to a dozen. I got some great replies and even met up with a handful of the guys that were on there…but I digress. Besides getting a few dates, what really conspired, is that replying to the ads is what got me to write and it’s what turned out to be the source of my inspiration to finally, truly, get cranking on writing the business plan.

Step Four: Write, write and write. I was finally getting the concept out of my head. Once I got into the flow, it came pouring out. While I was writing, I was also doing research. I had many late nights and I often went to Panera Bread and Starbucks to change things up.

Step Five: I got to a point where I needed more data and this where Martin’s expansion of the concept really paid off. We now had the meat and potato we needed to give the concept and the business plan greater validity.

Step Six: Outsource what you can’t do yourself. Like I mentioned in another post, I suck at doing financial spreadsheets, so Martin began working on those with information we brainstormed together. We both got really giddy at the time we were making projections and talking about what we could realistically accomplish. The financial numbers were bigger then anything he or I had ever seen in our lives. We really became intoxicated on the true potential and possibilities of this business. Ruth thought we were both a little wacky. She was definitely the one we went to in order to balance out the assumptions we were making. Sometimes she thought we were too high and sometimes she thought we were too low.

Step Seven: Allow things to settle in. Writing the plan and seeing our financial future was very exciting and scary. Were we being realistic? Could we really pull this off?

Step Eight: Bounce the idea/concept off some people. As we were getting closer to finalizing the plan (as if it will EVER be finalized), we started talking and meeting up with some people in order to make sure we were on the right track and indeed, not being unrealistic. Since this post is getting kinda long, I’ll talk about who those people were in later posts. However, I do want to point out that everyone we spoke with provided excellent constructive criticisms, loved the concept and gave us great support.

I haven’t looked at the plan for a few weeks now; I need to and will in the next few days. We haven’t received the funding we need yet, so we’re getting back out there and we need a strong plan to get us what we’re seeking. Next post will be about that painful road we’re on…which is, trying to secure funding.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tick, Tock

Tick, tock…tick, tock that’s what I’m hearing in my head. Tick, tock…tick, tock, it’s rather torturous and it’s making me miserable. My partners (Martin and Ruth) and I are waiting for funding in order for us to get started on our new venture.

It’s a very exciting venture. I will tell you all about in the upcoming posts, but right now, I really want to share my absolute misery with you. I think I’m a few days away from having a serious break-down.

Allow me to take you back in time for a moment. On February 12, 2007 I was sitting in Chipotle off of Prince William Parkway, in Woodbridge, Va. I wasn’t in the best state of mind. I was in the process of closing a venture (LGS Coaching Agency) I had embarked upon since getting out of the Marine Corps back in 2005. This was a very difficult thing for me to do. It felt like I had failed at something that I thought was suppose to be part of my future and destiny and I was letting a lot of people down, to include myself. I had been so determined, focused and involved in making the Coaching Agency work that everything else in my life had taken a back seat. I felt so empty, tired and disappointed.

I had also sunk a lot of money into it…to include investment money from a friend. So, I was basically broke and definitely depressed. I was trying really hard to see the light, to understand why this was happening and what I was suppose to do next.

I sat there, eating my chicken burrito bowl (I love those) while looking around and that’s when I was hit by an idea for a new venture. I went home and wrote the concept out and emailed it to a few people, whom I thought, would be wonderful partners to embark on this venture with me. I was ready to work towards making this new venture work, but I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t have the will, energy or all the required skills.

I created a very ambitious timeline and attempted to get everyone working towards it. Well, it didn’t quite pan out. (I’ll discuss business partnerships and what happened with that in a later post). We needed to write a business plan and the responsibility to write the plan landed squarely on my shoulders. This was a daunting and exhausting thought. In the end, Martin and I were left standing and working towards getting the venture furthered developed, planned out and someday off the ground.

Luckily, we are almost neighbors so it was/is easy to meet when we need(ed) to. I read the Art of the Start by Guy Kioyaski and started out by writing out an executive summary, in the hope that may be, I wouldn’t have to write a full plan. (Hello, wishful thinking and denial). After meeting with Martin a few times, we expanded on the original concept and I finally had enough meat to get started on the business plan. I got busy writing the business plan which involved doing a lot of research and digging deep into my will power to be thorough and to stay motivated. Thankfully, Martin worked on doing the financial statements, which I suck at, and helped gather data.

It took me a little less then two weeks to write the plan. We sent it out to a few people for review and began brainstorming funding options.

I want to note that there’s a lot that took place during the process of writing the business plan which, once again, I’ll cover in another posts!! Sorry, I just want to set the stage that leads me to my current misery.

We also went through a lot while searching for funding sources, and then, when we thought we had finally found one, a blast from the past changed things up. This was more then 25 days ago. Since then, absolutely NOTHING has happened to make me believe the money will actually be made available to us. I keep believing, trusting and hoping, but I just don’t know how much longer this can go on. Besides the fact that it’s driving me insane, I can’t pay my mortgage next month.

Closing the Coaching Agency was rough, but after discovering this exciting new venture I realized that the Coaching Agency wasn’t going to really provide me the lifestyle I seek and want. The main thing I want in life is to have fun while making a difference. The Coaching Agency required a good deal of effort, time, and was a lot of work with little to no pay off. The new venture is set-up to be all fun with huge pay outs, and of course, it will make a huge difference in millions of people’s lives.

Once again, I have been focused, dedicated, determined and a huge risk taker towards making my dreams come true and getting the life I want and seek. And where does this leave me? Hanging…it’s leaving me hanging?? I’ve expanded the energy, money, and put my heart and soul into making this happen. I meditate, pray and visualize. (Not just me, Martin and Ruth, both, do the same too).

I need to start considering some other options because, like I mentioned, I’m broke and need to get back to reality and start making some money again.

My heart is breaking, yet again. A break-up with a person is a sliver of pain, compared to engaging a 100% towards making your dreams come true and hitting walls, after walls. I’m not giving up. I just need to find a way to keep going.

The Purpose

The purpose behind this blog is to take you on our journey with us. We obviously have a lot of catching up to do since this journey began February 12, 2007 and is on-going each and every day.

The reason we want to take you on the journey with us is because we want to connect with the people who are and will be involved in what we are doing. We want to expose and outline the journey we are taking towards making our dreams come true.

We hope this blog and our sharing who we are, our struggles, successes, challenges and victories with you, will encourage you to step into the unknown and take part in making your own dreams come true.

As you will read in the next post, Tick Tock, this hasn’t and isn’t an easy journey…particularly for me (Ann).

We (Martin, Ruth and myself) are hoping to build a multi (100 plus) million dollars company. We have an exciting and amazing concept that will impact millions of lives and bring lots of fun into our world.

I can’t speak for Martin or Ruth, but for me, this is about having the lifestyle and life I dream about each day. It’s about never settling or compromising on my true and real happiness and potential.

We’ve been through some ups and downs and each day I am not fully sure what will happen next. I live in a constant state of unknown and uncertainty. (According to Deepak Chopra…this is exactly where miracles happen and I’m impatiently waiting for that to happen since I haven’t fully learn the art of detachment just yet)

This is also a spiritual journey we are taking you on. We are all very spiritual being. We believe in the Laws of Attraction, the Art of Positive Thinking, The Power of Visualization, The Benefits of Meditation, etc…

You will see how we go about making our dreams come true by remaining true to who we are and in tune to what is best for all of us.

Did I mention this hasn’t and isn’t an easy journey!!?!?!

We hope you will join us and find comfort and what’s happening and going on with us. It’s important to know we are not alone and it’s important to give and receive support.

We look forward to hearing from you and trust us…once we launch Why Go Solo, you will LOVE what we are doing!!