In this space you will find training materials in areas of business expertise that you will need to grow your company successfully. We pick highly-accomplished entrepreneurs in different fields to help create content specifically for mil-tech startups in Ukraine under wartime conditions. Often what you will find online is written for the US or Western Europe in peacetime, a completely different situation to which different rules apply. Currently planned topics include:
When you expand your business outside your own country, where you have a home field advantage, effective communication will become much more important for your success. This includes talking to media (reporters) because they collectively help shape opinion in ways that can impact you. For example, in the US, there are many stories in the news about how clever the Ukrainian mil-tech companies are with very limited resources. While such press is certainly well-meaning and positive in nature, it has the disadvantage that it makes you sound non-high-tech. This can consequently make getting financing on good terms more difficult.
Last year’s Warsaw Drone Summit was written about many hundreds of times by different news media in the region, with even some large American publications expressing interest. At the 2023 event, we will be inviting international media. This training module will help you maximize what you can get out of interactions with the press in addition to, more generally, create the right messages about your company.
A central dilemma for all startups is how to best finance not only their day to day operations, but also their growth plans, and their “rainy day” fund for when something goes unexpectedly wrong – or unexpectedly right.
Unlike the other business topics that we are covering in this series in which there are best practices that you adapt to your specific company, at its core, business financing poses a set of a trade-offs. There is no one right answer or best practice to apply.
Business financing is also the “scariest” of our topics: without money coming from somewhere to fund your operation, most companies can only survive for a few months, if that. This is true even in the earliest days, in which all of the founders may have “day jobs” that fund them to be able to work nights and weekends to build your new product, or else be supported by their families. It becomes even more true once there is a sizable payroll, an office or manufacturing facilities to pay for, equipment or parts that must be regularly purchased, and so on.
“Startup” is not a legal term. It refers to a small company that has the theoretical potential to grow into a large company. Such growth almost always has its ups, downs, and surprises – even in cases of ultimate success. This growth potential makes startups very unlike small local businesses whose revenue and expenses are fairly predictable. This is not at all true of startups, and it greatly complicates the task of assessing how much money is enough – not only enough to pay the bills, but for the company to thrive in a competitive global marketplace.
For this reason, in the West, very few startups run solely cash flow businesses (funding all operations with revenue) as they grow. There are several options that can be used individually, or in combination. These include equity investment (selling part of your company to investors) borrowing money (interest rates vastly lower in the West, with many more options) and deals with partner entities such as resellers that can generate advanced payments.
Any of these options can, and do, go wrong some percentage of the time. However, having no options if/when having more cash becomes advantageous – or necessary – is the source of death of many startups. This training module provides a good overview of the options in an easy to understand and lighthearted way.