Let’s continue with the theme of not being able to get a complete view of your investments. What happens when there are interruptions in business or in the company and you don’t have a complete view? Like it or not, issues, such as staff turnover, information not getting backed up or being completely lost, lack of access to information, and natural disasters do happen. Nowadays, it’s a common practice among businesses to have comprehensive approaches, or business continuity plans, to minimize these disruptions. But what about your firm, have you evaluated how your company will deal with these issues if they arise? Even if everything is running smoothly now, have you addressed your points of potential weakness? Do you have a business continuity plan in place as a preventative measure? Where will your critical investment information be if something goes awry?
The flip side of having a business continuity plan is actually having business continuity; a way of ensuring your clients and partners that they will have access to their information if something does goes wrong. This could include many of the daily routines of project management, keeping good communications, keeping things backed up and keeping updated reports. Good business continuity tends to be a manual and costly process, making operations harder to maneuver, which brings us to the next pain we relieve for our clients.
Pain #2 - There is a lack of business continuity in my office/ operations are hard to control.
- Critical investment information is kept in one place and not backed up.
Whether the information is stored in someone’s email, on one person’s hard drive, or in a filing cabinet next to your desk, there are numerous ways that information can easily become inaccessible. Is your information backed up? If the information is in the cloud, is it backed up on multiple servers? Are the servers on different power grids? If information is lost, one way or another, is recovery possible? If critical information is lost, it is imperative that recovery occurs in a timely fashion.
- There is no business continuity plan/ there is a plan, but no business continuity.
If you do not have a business continuity plan in place for your critical documents, start there. It is important to have all critical information in a secure, backed-up, easily accessible place. If you have a plan in place, is your company practicing the plan in a way that LPs and colleagues are comfortable knowing how to access their information if something goes wrong? Communicating with your LPs and internal partners regularly, to keep everyone in the loop, is a significant way to establish business continuity, good governance and consistency. If you have your information in the cloud, providing a user portal for access to the information is also a key way to provide ease of access to information.
- The daily operational tasks of properly managing my investments are getting hard to handle.
Trying to manually maintain work flows of investments can be extremely time consuming, not to mention, costly to the company. Providing a good flow of communications between the company and LPs and investments is already quite a feat. Now add on the responsibilities of keeping all the information backed up, organized, readily available to everyone, in reports to be analyzed, etc. And then when a document is updated, starting the process again…it’s exhausting!
What do I need to solve these issues?
Organizing information on a secure cloud-based solution, backed-up on multiple servers (and on different power grids) ensures the security of information and its timely recovery in the event of data loss. Online user portals make accessing information easy but also make it possible to segregate information by role. Automated emails can also help the daily operational responsibilities. Capital calls, board packages, K1s, etc. should have reminder and chaser emails setup. Notification emails of when new or updated information is put into a system are another great way to keep everyone on the same page.
Find out more about how DocDep can provide the solution. Or get a deeper view into the software by requesting a demo.
Here in DDC’s home of Philadelphia, one of the brightest spots within business community are our business incubators. Wharton, as well as Temple and Drexel universities, offer centers to help startups develop the business organization and skills to get off the ground. They are joined by DreamIt Ventures, which start its 2011 three-month incubator program in Philadelphia Sept. 12, as well as Good Company Ventures, which focuses on helping sustainable companies. In June, our CEO, Farid Naib, spoke at the at the University Science Center, for an event sponsored by Philly Startup Leaders and the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies on understanding funding term sheets to entrepreneurs.
Just like that motivational poster reminded us that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten, the organizational tools and support incubators provide is something that all businesses – regardless of their stage – need to stay on top. Here are three resources that Philadelphia-area incubators provide their startups. Does your business have these capabilities as well?
Temple University’s Small Business Development Office promises its startups resources ranging from computer databases to student externs to help them identify their market base and learn its needs. Market research is often overlooked, especially at the very beginning of a business’s life cycle. But it is essential to forming the early business strategy.
Many entrepreneurs have a brilliant idea, and probably a lot of technical know-how or familiarity with the market to bring it to fruition. But unless they can speak convincingly and passionately about this idea, it’s going to get a pass from funders. Many incubators, including Drexel’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship have many presentation workshops and competitions. In fact, most of the incubator’s work is to prepare business owners for the all-important pitch to angels or venture capitalists at the end of the program.
Incubator companies are just starting out, but even they are expected to run their business like a professional and competent enterprise. Many small businesses, whether they are just starting out or have been running for a years, overlook the importance of having professional space, office equipment, and other resources that says to clients, funders, and partners that they are responsible and reliable. Taking meetings at the local Starbucks or a cluttered home office does not reassure these people. The University Science Center prides itself on its professional work environment, with receptionists, fully equipped meeting rooms, and full IT support.
At Farid's talk at the University Science Center in June, we met many entrepreneurs with passion and some brilliant ideas on what people and businesses need. But they also recognized that they needed some business organization and some understanding of funding, communicating, and marketing to realize their dreams. Many of them had turned to incubators to make that happen.
A Recipe for a Successful Launch?
All business incubators operate under the premise that they can give a startup the right guidance and support to flourish. But their usefulness has long been debated. Back in 1999, at the height of the tech economy, BusinessWeek asked whether business incubators could "justify their existence." Work. Silicon Valley entreprentuer Sramana Mitra started a wide-ranging online discussion in 2010 on the various reasons a business incubator might fail to jump-start a new enterprise or industry.
So, what does it take for a great idea or a product to become a successful business? How do a collection of entrepreneurs working in the same field band togethter to create a small industry? Can outside advisors instill good business sense? Or must it come from the business founders themselves?
A new look deserves a celebration and in our case a blog. As part of the kick-off of the new website, Document Depository Corporation (DDC) is also launching its first ever blog, the Sounding Board. As the name suggests, this is a place to share information about issues facing businesses today and to find strategies for becoming more successful. Regardless of a company’s size, from start-up to multi-million dollar corporation, every business wants to succeed. DDC is part of that solution, finding ways to help you organize, communicate, and prepare for what your future holds, and the information you’ll find on our blog is just one way we can help point you in the right direction.
We have some great topics coming up, including lessons learned from a web redesign and 10 reasons to get your important documents out of your email folders. Along the way we’ll also share the story behind DDC and some words of wisdom from our CEO, Farid Naib, who is himself an experienced entrepreneur, investor, and board member. Stay tuned! Good stuff is in store.