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Welcome To Google My Business Mailer

Once you’re part of Google Places Google My Business you’ll receive this handy mailer!

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Creating videos for podcasting, tutorials and even promotional pieces and training products is a very rewarding experience in and of itself, though when you’re starting out there is so much to learn. The other week I needed to create a self-promo piece. Overall it went well, but once I watched the final post-production version … it wasn’t as great as I thought. This experience taught me a lot about video creation. Here’s what I learned.

What I Learned About Making Professional Video Podcasts

Creating videos can be a great way to enhance your brand image and while it can be you can just start and get going, it takes a good bit of experience (and money) to get to the professional level. I do not mean professional as in HD TV nor cinema quality, professional quality as in a really well produced, edited and well thought out video.

The single most important thing for you to know when starting to make videos is: Just start making the videos. Make videos, screw up, learn, improve.

No matter what type of video you will be making (video podcast, tutorial, screencast, training product, or sales video) there are three main parts of the whole process:

  1. Pre-production
  2. Production
  3. Post-production

Pre-production

In these beginning stages you are getting everything ready, planned out and ready to start recording video. In this part you’ll be:

  • Creating the script
  • Planning out the scene(s)
  • Getting a general idea for the look and feel you want to achieve
  • Making sure all the equipment, files, and stuff you need is ready

The most important things I’ve learned in this step are:

  • Get to know your equipment so that you can at least get the basics done and use it without wasting time.
  • Make sure 90% of the script is done before going on to the next stage. Improvisation is great, though if you want a very clear and concise message and want to sound truly professional write a script.
  • At a minimum for the script: have well thought out talking points, ideas and topics you want to touch on.
  • Test your equipment fully at the locations you will record. Is the background noise too loud? Are the cables long enough? Do we have enough time? Light good? ect…
  • Run through the script a few times to make sure it sounds good out loud.
  • If you know the general look and feel you want: get the clothing, make-up and personal styling stuff ready.

Production

Now comes the fun part: recording the video. If you have someone helping you this part will be a lot easier. If not, that’s ok too. You will just have to do more work and it will take longer. For most things you can do everything yourself.

At this stage you’ll be filming, taking many takes (retries), and recording all that you can.

Recording is rarely done in one try (take). I learned:

  • Make scenes short so that it’s easier for you to say your lines and parts.
  • Keeping the scenes short allows you to splice together the best takes together easier.
  • Do not assume your first try (take) is perfect. Record it many times so make sure you’ve gotten it down and have some good video (and audio) to work with.
  • If you’re not sure how everything will look: do some test videos first. Walk through the scene and script while recording, though don’t care about being perfect. Try different angles, see how the light works, does everything sounds ok? It’s ok to stop recording, take the video to your computer and see how the tests came out and then adjust the scene!
  • If you’re recording outside, try to record in the shade. Direct sunlight gives very harsh shadows which may not look good on camera. If possible, you can try using a light diffuser (it’s a piece of farbic that’s partially transparent and gives you a nice shade effect).
  • When walking around, the light and shading might change and if it does: use a light (or lights) to help keep the lighting consistent.
  • If you’re filming in-doors: use video quality lights! The lights will allow your video camera to record in the highest quality, and you’ll look a heck of a lot better when properly lit.

Post-production

This is the toughest part for me as I’m no video editor. But I can still produce decently quality videos IF I do the first two stages right. Why? Since I did my best to have everything setup as well as possible most of my editing it generally limited to adding my (premade) intro, credits and background music where appropriate … of course also adding the video clips and scenes together.

  • Play around with your video editor to learn the basics. It’s OK to learn on the job. Search engines are your friend here.
  • Avoid the low end video studio products if possible.
  • Get a professional video editing studio software such as Final Cut Pro (OSX only) or Adobe Premier Pro (OSX & Windows).
  • If you’re going to have longer talking clips avoid having background music for them. Mostly for those that’ll just sound cheesy.
  • Unless you’re making something like a drama movie, have an intro and outro (credits) that are very short and to the point.
  • Intro and ending music are ok.
  • Learn how to do transitions and music/audio fading. Most programs will have that built in, so learn how to use those features.
  • Keep scenes short and if possible use multiple camera angles to keep things interesting.

In a business meeting recently, Peter and I discussed various approaches to effective presentation. He was very detailed in his examples of presentation, whereas I preferred something less precise. In this instance, he opted for saying what a wonderful job a vendor could do, whereas I was more comfortable with talking about what had been done, and the result of it.

The Nonspecific Approach

In my view, the detailed approach has several drawbacks.

It is restrictive for you as a provider; it may commit you to producing results that circumstances make impossible.

‘For one flat fee, I will load this new software onto your computer network and have it operational on the first day. You will be 100% satisfied with this software and the quality of my work. I will also provide technical support for the first year—all for the same flat fee.’

May I ask when you developed a taste for charity work? For one flat fee, you will attempt to load this new software onto your client’s computer network and discover that none of the current software has been updated since it was first installed. That shoots the morning. You will run anti-virus and anti-malware scans, which also have not been done in at least four months, and have to remove loads of toxic junk. The system will have to repair itself. By the time the network is ready to receive your new upload, it will be late tomorrow. None of these extras have been covered in your presentation, but must be done before you can proceed. Through no fault of your own, you’ve failed to meet your deadline. Additionally, the client in this example is so challenged by computers in general that he will have you on speed-dial, and you won’t have an uninterrupted meal until the end of your contract. For one flat fee.

It would be better to say, ‘For an initial fee I will review and prepare your system as needed. When everything is in order, I will upload this new software. Barring delays, your new network will be operational tomorrow. I think you will be pleased with the result. The initial feed also includes X hours of technical support for the first year.’

In both cases, you’ve told the client what you will do, and what the client can expect, but in the Nonspecific approach, you’ve qualified your claims and left yourself room to adjust. ‘Barring delays,’ allows you to update all that other software and run those scans as part of the service before making the upload. It also shows foresight—you are expecting the unexpected. ‘You will be pleased,’ is softer than ‘You’ll be 100% satisfied’ because you can’t guarantee satisfaction. Some people are naturally ornery.

Details can create unrealistic, or at least inaccurate, expectations in the person with whom you are speaking;

‘My approach to solving this problem requires no more than three treatments, and you will feel better almost immediately. You will be cured!’

No two people are exactly alike, nor are two problems, no matter how similar. The slightest variable can affect the outcome significantly, but because you’ve committed yourself to specific results, you’re in a bind. Person A does very well; Person B is unresponsive, and you may find that Person B is doing something that blocks the effect of your treatment. Here, details put the entire responsibility on your shoulders, and Persons A and B only have to sit back, let you do your work, and expect great results. If they don’t get it, it’s your fault. After all, they’re paying you to do the work.

It would be more prudent, then, to be less exact in your claims. ‘My approach to this problem generally requires only a few treatments, and some people notice relief very quickly. You will be part of your treatment team. When the initial crisis is over, we can review and determine whether further treatments, or other changes, would be beneficial.’ (That is to say, ‘if you’re being treated for high blood pressure, and you put salt in everything you eat, all of which is fatty fried food, we can discuss a radical change in diet.’)

The Detailed presentation can make a client feel he has limited options.

‘I’m the best web designer you’ll ever meet. I can design a website for you that will guarantee you a minimum of 10,000 hits a month, with a 30% increase in your revenues in the first quarter as a result. I do this for all my clients and they are completely satisfied. You can’t let this opportunity slip by you!’

I would never take this approach. ‘I’ve designed websites for clients that have increased their viewership by 50% a month, and have resulted in substantial increases in revenues. I would be interested in doing this for your company; I already have some ideas.’

No one likes to be told what to do. People like to make their own decisions, but of course, they don’t always recognize their options, or evaluate them accurately. While there are people who will say, ‘How can I say no?’, there are many others who reject an aggressive presentation. When you talk about what you’ve done for other clients, and suggest what you could provide to your potential client, you’ve said all you need to. The client will make the decision based on the information you’ve provided, and will own his decision because you led him in the direction, and then allowed him to find the solution himself.

Too detailed focus may impair the client’s ability to be creative with the services you provide.

The other drawback to being to detailed in your claims is that you may unintentionally introduce tunnel vision into your client’s thinking. ‘I can write blogs for your website. I can give you three super blogs a week, for $X! I’m a terrific blog-writer!’ (Notice—blog, blog, blog.) If you’ve been very focused in your presentation, and remembering that people don’t like being told what to do, you’re apt to get the response, ‘We don’t want a blog. Thanks for your time!’ A less focused approach would leave room in the client’s thinking for him to realize that, ‘we don’t want a blog on our website, but we have been thinking about a regular in-house newsletter, and he could write that for us.’

It can land you in court.

I’m not an attorney, and this shouldn’t be construed as ‘legal advice’, but we’ve all seen reports in the media of frivolous law suits being filed. They are settled out of court, or decided in court by a jury, for ludicrously enormous amounts of money. With this in mind, there are people who threaten law suits over the slightest disappointments. So imagine that you tell a client, ‘This is a very easy task; with my modifications, it will take you no more than one hour.’ When the client can’t accomplish that task in one hour, he can claim (in court) that you misled him.

It would be better for both of you if you were less detailed. ‘This is a simple task. With my modifications, you should be able to do this in very little time.’ Your promise, and the client’s expectation are more flexible.

I would like to say something about the ethics involved here. A nonspecific presentation may sound like you’re trying to hide something, or con your client into a specific choice. This is not at all the case at all. What you say in a nonspecific presentation is the truth in general terms—the difference between ‘it rained a lot’ and ‘it rained four inches!’ You aren’t overloading your client with non-essential facts. If the client wants specific information, he’ll ask. Everything you say is true, but not so specific that differences become exaggerated irregularities. You are allowing your (potential) client to use his imagination, to make his own decision rather than you forcing a choice on him, and even allowing him to thik of other uses for your talents.

However, let us not be too nonspecific. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for the stuff inside the thing at the place, and I doubt you’ll ever find it.


If you enjoyed reading this, please take a look at my eBooks on Amazon.com:

Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell : http://amzn.to/1iGMFUp

Lives of the Ain’ts: Comedic Biographies of Directors Errant: http://amzn.to/1nPvqoc

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Every month, I attend several ‘networking’ meetings at which people introduce themselves and give a ‘spiel’ of no more than ten seconds. Of course, they go overtime, but no one seems to mind. The ‘spiels’ all sound practiced, and usually end with a glib tag line. Something along the lines of Gerber’s ‘Babies are our business—our only business!’ Dorothy L Sayers had a good tag line at the end of her mystery novel ‘Murder Must Advertise’: Advertise, or go under!

Pernicious Branding

What I find disturbing is that I am beginning to see these people less as people and more as caricatures. One fellow with a video recording company had a very memorable tag-line: If it moves, we shoot it! However, I never did get his name, and I doubt I could pick him out of a line up. I don’t remember who is interested in what, which fellow likes the symphony, or which lady writes poetry in her spare time (things that are important to me). Next month, I’ll attend this meeting again, seated at the dining table with breakfast-eating businesses. Somewhere in the crowd are the music lover and poet I would rather remember by can’t identify. If we see each other at a different meeting, we’ll say, ‘the face is familiar—what’s your tag line?’

Of course, what we’re discussing here is branding, and I’m not enough of a businessman to appreciate the importance of this trend. I am far enough outside the commercial circle, and objective enough, to recognize that there are aspects of a ‘brand presentation’ that are necessary, but other aspects that seem ridiculous. I think of myself as a humanist, perhaps even a romantic. I want stories to have happy endings. I want people to be nice to each other, and for the sun to rise in the east, assuring us of good life. I want the way to be gentle and beautiful, the songs to be sweet (and while I’m at it, I’d like a puppy).

Instead, everything is ‘fast-paced’, with bullet presentations of skills and acumen that may have taken years to develop. As a society, it seems our attention cannot be held for more than a few seconds, and consequently vital information has to be packaged, streamlined, condensed, and fired off in hopes that the listener will remember.

I wonder what that demand for the most information in the least amount of times says about how much we value each other. What does it say about my sense of self-importance, and my regard for you?

I’ve noticed a trend toward branding in personal blogging as well. One of the social media sites to which I belong is full of examples of people branding themselves with esoteric titles, such as ‘immortalist’, ‘part-time voluntary worker, fulltime thinker’, or ‘karmalogist.’ Some come with tag lines filled with pseudo-profound philosophies such as ‘enjoy life, there’s plenty of time to be dead.’ I don’t know anything about these people, and based on the evidence provided, I may be better off. Somehow an honest and open description, even if it doesn’t fit into a few words, would be more illuminating and engaging.

Branding is not going to disappear because I don’t like it (or perhaps I just don’t understand it). When business trends begin to bleed into social media, I think we’re beginning to lose balance and perspective, or perhaps the word I want is ‘scope’. Certainly no one is likely to be engaged by an introduction: I’m an arranger of flowers, a lover of bird-song, and my dreams fly about me like leaves on the wind. Leave me your carpets, I’ll get ‘em cleaner than clean!’
At the same time, I don’t want to meet some sweet young creature at a dinner party who introduces herself as an ‘epulation aficionada’. (Brand-speak for ‘I enjoy good food.’)

It’s a question of balance.

When you meet potential clients or partners at a networking meeting, or some other business setting, how much of what you present is the business, and how much is the real you? Some potential clients won’t care if you like the symphony, they only want to know that you can defrag their hard drive. On the other hand, some clients are concerned about having a person with whom they can work (and build a lasting work relationship). Which is appropriate, and how do you know? Is a networking or other business meeting the best venue for this sort of thing?

Branding hurts—ask any steer. Is your brand hurting you?

The absolute best ‘trick’ that no one really tells you in negotiations, sales, marketing, interviews, and even just good ol’ fashioned persuasion is that there is no trick. There’s no magical instant-win trump card nor a text-book catch-all approach. There really is no ‘trick’ to success, except good preparation.

The Absolute Best Trick In Negotiations & Sales: There Is No Trick

While there are many tricks, tips and strategies you can use to be good at negotiations and sales, there is only one real way to succeed: Be prepared.

It’s no secret and there is no trick to being prepared. All you have to do is be ready. Abraham Lincoln said: “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” In Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” he’s talking about the basics of business, strategy and success.

From the HBR blog:

Ben Koeneker knew the odds were stacked against him. Then the head of business development for a midsize Midwest telecom company, he was trying to convince Siemens, the multibillion-dollar electronics conglomerate, to give his firm an exclusive distribution contract for a new business communications product. At the time, his $28 million company was known more for refurbishing than distribution. “We were tiny,” he says. “We were the ant shouting at the elephant.”

Koeneker did copious amounts of research prior to sitting down at the table. He researched Siemens products and why their current channels of distribution weren’t working well. He also made sure he knew that his own company could deliver on every level, preparing counterarguments for any doubts that might arise. “I knew we couldn’t pretend we could do something we couldn’t do,” he says.
When the negotiations began, he emphasized the pros of his company’s distribution model, rather than the cons he felt currently existed in Siemens’ current method. “If you spend too much time talking about the negatives, you’re basically telling them that they’re doing their business wrong.” He also pointed out that signing with his firm would free up money to devote to marketing, which he knew from his research was something that Siemens wanted.

A turning point came when a senior Siemens executive said that while he was impressed with the proposal, he wondered if Koeneker’s company could scale effectively if the product line took off. Two rivals to Koeneker’s firm, the executive said, were bigger and could more easily handle growth. “I turned to him and said, ‘Are those two companies interested in distributing your product at this time?’” Koeneker says. “I already knew the answer from my research that those companies had turned them down.” He followed up by adding that while his firm was small, it was better thought of as “boutique,” with the unique ability to focus completely on the Siemens brand.
Shortly after, they inked the contract.

A local business owner Don Bloom has a unique practice, one of the things he does is disaster preparation. Not in the form of building shelters or creating product, but in the form of what do we do if X happens to minimize the damage, what are the best things to do going forward to prevent XYZ issue from cropping up, and ‘ok, the shit has officially hit the fan: now what and how do we get back to work’? He and I were talking about the need for businesses to be prepared:

Don: Most businesses don’t have a plan on how to secure their data in the event of an emergency, nor even a way/process to make sure their data is always backed-up, safe and secure. What if there is a fire at their office which just happens to house their mission critical servers? Is there a backup? What’s the process for accessing and activating the backup? How fast can it be done? What are the steps? How about what if the very important company CEO who is the heart and soul of the company suddenly dies? Who will take over operations? Does the next person in line know how to access the important files and how to pick up where Mr. Old CEO left off?

Most people don’t think about such things in life, so how many businesses do you think really go through such proper preparations? Barely any.

Big companies have big instruction manuals (or at least they should have them) for a reason: to minimize liability and to make sure everyone can know what to do in every possible situation.

This applies to negations and sales because you can’t sell or negotiate properly if you don’t know (let a lot understand) your own company’s offerings and the buyer’s needs. For example: did you know that when purchasing a home you don’t need any downpayment, loan nor cash for closing?

Depending on who you’re talking to, you setup a deal where all you’re doing it taking over someone’s existing mortgage (if any) or if there is little/no mortgage you can have the seller directly finance the home purchase. That would mean no loan from a bank! You would then instead be paying the seller directly every month for the agreed amount. Not everyone will agree to something like that of course, but if you learn and find out that the seller really just needs money to cover monthly expenses and isn’t too interested on the lump sum (And the taxes that come with it) then it could be possible. But only if you did your homework beforehand!

When going to a job interview what’s better: to know about the company and people who will interview you or to show up ignorant? Same thing with you are the one selling to a client: the more you know about the client, their business and what their needs are the better you will be in the process.

There is no magic here. Just plain and simple preparedness.

Increasing revenue (and sales) in a restaurant business is more about psychology and social engineering than it is about food and presentation of the food. Here are some very subtle ways you can increase your revenue without ever changing a dish.

7 Ways To Increase Your Restaurants Sales & Revenue

The restaurant business can be tough, especially if you’re a small local shop. Though whether you’re big or small there are 7 ways to increase your restaurants sales and revenue without ever changing a recipe, dish layout or marketing budget. It’s all about the fair and moral psychological tactics you can use to subliminally get people to buy more … and they’ll love you for it.

We can thank science (and data analytics) for letting us know how to get people to spend more on our food:

  1. Don’t use dollar ($) signs. Just use the number by itself.
  2. Don’t use even/whole numbers. End your pricing in .95 (and not .99, as .95 seems to be an easier number for people to swallow).
  3. Use very descriptive descriptions and name-drop Brand’s where possible.
  4. If possible, add a family & homely name to the food (such as Grandma Chang’s Fried Noodles).
  5. If you’re food it culture based, use ‘authentic’ cultural names.
  6. For your best sellers (or favourites), put some visual cue to highlight and feature that item (such as a box, a star, or different background).
  7. Use more ‘eloquent’ music such as classical … it’ll subliminally make people think it’s higher class.

Further reading:
http://www.businessinsider.com/restaurant-menus-spend-more-money-2014-7#ixzz37Zg0SVXw
https://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/abstract-15048.html

Many of my clients and business friends have asked my expert opinion on some “Facebook related thing” in their website logs. They were worried it might be a spammer, hacker or something with ill intent.

They say something like this in their web logs:

Agent: facebookexternalhit/1.1 (+http://www.facebook.com/externalhit_uatext.php)

This is the Facebook’s website crawler. It’s safe!

Just like Google has a website crawler that scans your website for content, relavancy, images and all that fun stuff Facebook has the same thing that it uses in-order to make sure the links it posts are safe for users, so that it can get the preview image and the snippet text.

Do not block the Facebook web crawler.

It’s needed if you ever want Facebook to see your website as web safe and friendly.

This is what Facebook’s own documentation says about it:

Why does Facebook appear in my server logs?

Facebook allows its users to send links to interesting web content to other Facebook users. Part of how this works on the Facebook system involves the temporary display of certain images or details related to the web content, such as the title of the webpage or the embed tag of a video. Our system retrieves this information only after a user provides us with a link. You may have found this page because a Facebook user sent a link from your website to other Facebook users. If you have any questions or concerns about any links or content sent by one of our users, please contact us at legal@facebook.com.

Taking equity in a company can be a great way to grow your investment portfolio, though it is also risky and if you take equity in lieu of cash payment it means you’re not getting money now. In these situations there are several things to think about (pro’s/con’s) and several creative ways to protect yourself.

How To Safely Accept Equity In A Start up In Lieu Of Payment

When you’re offered equity in a lieu of payment for a project it can be rather enticing to accept. What if you’re offered equity (stocks) in an existing (successful) company? What if it’s a start-up company instead? How about a small local business? What then?

You might be thinking that getting equity in a start-up is great, especially if it’s a funded start-up. If the company is already well sized and successful and offering you equity for your work, that sounds even better, right?! And that local restaurant you visit has offered you a piece of their pie if you help then, sounds great to help out a local business … of course it does.

Though I pose this question to you:

When will you actually get that money?

The downside of an equity deal (in-lieu of payment)

Start-ups and local businesses will generally not be cash rich, so it’s understandable that they’d want to limit their cash exposure. Though the trouble isn’t for them, it’s for you.

  • What if the business goes under?
  • Equity isn’t money, it’s only worth something when you cash out.
  • The majority of the time, your equity will be in the form of shares without voting rights.
  • You’re most likely getting a small equity share … very very small.
  • Equity ‘income’ is still taxable income in the eyes of the IRS.
  • The equity may be worth very little, even after it get’s funded.

Equity in an existing business (in-lieu of payment)

Let’s say the business is already formed, has clients, has a profit and is doing well enough to be in the growth stage. This already means they have money … so why are they not willing to part with it?

For an existing business to offer equity in-lieu of payment is a rather strange proposition. If you ask they why equity instead of cash, they might say:

Money is tight right now, so we have a very tight budget and we can’t afford your services via regular payment forms. That’s why we’re offering you equity instead.

Sounds rather innocent right? It’s understandable that a company that is investing a lot in it’s growth doesn’t have too much extra money to spend on other things.

Though that logic is flawed. If they are spending a lot of growth or at least actually growing that means they really do have that money but choose not to spend it on you. What does that say about what they think of your value to them?

I’d start asking a lot of questions about my stock rights, amount, cash value of stock and how fast you could get the stocks, and pretty much every other financial document the company has. I’d be rather weary of accepting a stock-only project because it’d be a very big risk on my part without me having any real control of the company’s direction and leadership.

You can start by asking the question in the questions section below.

Equity in a local business (in-lieu of payment)

Most local businesses aren’t very high profit. For that reason, most cannot even offer that because it would reduce their already low profits. For the sake of arguments, let’s say you’re approached by a local (active non-startup) local business and they offer you equity in their business in-lieu of paying you directly for your work.

First obvious question is: Why equity and not cash? The following questions would be similar to the questions in the corporate section above. What are the current finances, what’s the %, how much would they be worth when I sold them, when can I sell? ect ect…

Generally, it’s again a bad idea as you’d be hard pressed to ever get that money. If they don’t have money now to pay you at all, what are they chances you’d be able to cash you easily?

Equity in a start-up business (in-lieu of payment)

The most difficult question of all: “Should I accept equity in a start-up company instead of getting cash?” Well, it depends. This really depends on the team, the market and what the company is selling. It also of course depends on what they ask of you and what you’re willing to do.

Start-ups are a very unique beast. In a start-up, you usually have long(er) hours, more responsibilities and lots of expenses to cover even without having any profit (yet). The other issue is that IF the company isn’t profitable yet, or even getting any sales yet, how will they cover expenses for the project … especially your expenses.

I’m not trying to scare you away from getting stock in a start-up. It can be a very invigorating, extraordinary and learning experience as well as being extremely rewarding. One example is Mark Zukerburg and Facebook. Facebook was a start-up at one point.

VC firms are a great example of happily taking equity. Of course, the ‘resource’ they offer is their money (and network). Though on the other side: Dan Kennedy had this to say about accepting equity (not verbatim):

I’ve had many people offer me equity in their start-up instead of paying me my usual fee. I’ve turned down at least 200 offers. Though I’ve taken them up on it twice. Right now, I’m wishing I turned down 202 offers.

The problem with equity is two fold:

1) You’re not getting money now.
2) How & when will you get your money?

To make sure that we do get paid, eventually, we need to make sure we can control the situation as much as possible. I’m not saying that we want to be at a management level of a company, I’m just saying we want to control our side of the this deal and in one way or other make sure we’ll get paid. This is done by having a very well written agreement.

Things to consider when accepting an equity offer (in-lieu of payment)

Here are some things you should be asking yourself, and your prospect/client before accepting an equity only offer:

  • What percentage of the company will I own?
  • How much will be shares me worth as soon as I get them?
  • What’s the prediction for the value in the next 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 .. ect years?
  • How soon can I sell my stocks? (vesting)
  • What are the requirements for me to sell?
  • What happens if you sell the company?
  • Do I have any voting rights in the company or are these restricted stocks?
  • What are my options if I don’t like where this company is heading in the future?
  • What is the specific scope and timeframe of my work on this project/company?
  • What are my legal liabilities?
  • Are you currently funded by an investor/VC? If so, how much did they put it? How much stock did they get?
  • What if you or one of the other managing partners wants to leave the company and cash out? What level are my stocks on the pecking order (ie: who get’s paid first)?
  • What if I want to sell early?
  • What if I don’t want to sell at all when you sell the company?
  • How do I know / how can I trust that this company will grow enough & fast enough so that I can cash out?

There are more question, but that’s just to get you started on thinking on how to protect yourself.

Here are some ideas to help you protect yourself if you decide to move forward.

Protecting yourself in equity deals:

  • Set a date at which you can freely cash you at a specific cash value.
  • Set a valuation amount for the company, at which they will have to buy you out (eg. When the company hits a $10 million valuation (or greater), they’ll have to buy your shares for fair market value and you’ll get your cash).
  • If they company is being bought out, or merging, you have to be the first one to get cashed out of the company.
  • If any of the executives are cashing out, they have to cash you out before they can cash out themselves.
  • If the company is going under, they HAVE to sell assets in order to pay off your equity at X-minimum value first.
  • Payouts at set intervals.

Though, the best option would be to negotiate pay plus equity:

  • Cash payment + equity for performance bonuses
  • Salary + stock options (or gift) as an employee
  • Lower cash payment for voting shares or majority ownership

Some things to consider that would help equity by itself be ok:

  • the client pays for any and all expenses related to your work with them
  • your work scope, responsibilities and time requirement + your costs are very well laid out and set.

Extra reading material:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/startup-failure-by-industry/
http://bnkly.com/post/27911430409/should-lawyers-take-equity-in-startup-clients
https://keen.io/blog/29904565692/how-i-negotiated-my-startup-compensation
http://myventurepad.com/akarrer/80807/equity-early-employees-early-stage-startups
http://paulgraham.com/equity.html
http://blog.asmartbear.com/cash-equity-compensation.html
http://www.payne.org/index.php/Startup_Equity_For_Employees
http://grasshopper.com/blog/getting-paid-in-equity-a-what-to-do-guide/
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-shouldnt-take-a-start-up-job-2013-2
https://www.themuse.com/advice/getting-startup-equity-everything-you-need-to-know