Venture Capital Company

A venture capital company invests capital and expertise in businesses that have the potential for very rapid and exponential growth. Money is often used to under gird building cost, advertising expenses, equipment and employee salaries for start-up ventures or launch a massive growth effort in an organization that wants to expand quickly. By using investments from private and public donors, these firms not only help a company get established financially, but also bring in needed resources and management skills to ensure that it succeeds. The end goal is to earn a profit when invested funds are purchased back at a higher percentage if the initiative gains value. Businesses close out the contract by going public on a stock exchange, being acquired by another company or filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although risky, investments made by a venture capital company can yield high returns on investment and have helped many businesses successfully compete in larger markets.

In order to get started, a venture capital company must obtain some capital. Traditionally, firms open up a fund for a specific amount and solicit investors, also called limited partners, to contribute towards that amount. The company then determines a number of businesses to work with and begins searching for initiatives that fit their goals. Choosing appropriate ventures is critical. Some companies will fail. Others will stall. But several will succeed, generating a great profit. The goal of the firm is to choose investments that will average higher than the original amount invested. When the fund cashes out or liquidates, usually between three and seven years, investors receive the percentage of the entire fund equal to the percentage they invested. Typically, most look for a 20% return on their investment. The venture capital company receives compensation for their part in the initiative as well. Normally, the firm takes out a small percentage, around 2.5% from the fund plus an annual management fee to support their staff and efforts in working alongside with the individual businesses to ensure success.

In return for funding a business endeavor, a firm will receive a percentage of stock in the organization as well as some control over the decisions made. The percentage of stock is agreed upon by both parties through a valuation process, which estimates how much the company is ultimately worth. The higher the percentage invested, the more stock the firm will receive. This percentage can range anywhere from 10-50% of a company's worth. In the process, the power of the original shareholders is reduced from owning 100% of the business to whatever percentage is left after the contract with the venture capital company is signed. The firm then seeks to protect its investment by providing experience and industry contacts to the growing business. Sometimes, it even requires a seat on the board of directors until the fund is liquidated. Some entrepreneurs prefer not to give over that control, even if it means success.

New or existing organizations that would like to receive this type of funding must be intentional in their selection of a venture capital company. Each firm is unique and has different requirements for the businesses considered. Some will only work with start-up companies. Others prefer more established organizations. Certain firms limit their investments to certain industries or geographical areas. Most will set some sort of parameters about the characteristics of the business or amounts to invest. Entrepreneurs should research each company thoroughly before submitting a pitch. Time is limited and very valuable. Most firms list specifications on their website as well as a list of companies who have previously received funds. This information is invaluable. Also, consider what the firm offers besides funding. Venture capitalists are not simply bankers; they are partners, knowledgeable about the industry and able to provide additional resources and connections to grow the business into a large-scale corporation. "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren." (1 Timothy 5:1)

Before making a pitch to a venture capital company, entrepreneurs should have a clear, concise and realistic business plan that will get investors excited about the opportunity of a partnership. Pitches should not just cover what the organization will do, but how they will do it. A vision statement, objectives, sales projects and estimated return on investment should all be included in the plan. Detailed information on competitors must be analyzed, problems identified, and solutions to those problems proposed. Entrepreneurs should also have a strong, experienced management team with a proven track record in place before submitting a request for funding. The solidity of this team will be one of the strongest determining factors in a firm's decision. Since most firms search out businesses in which they wish to invest, it is crucial for applying companies to get a referral before submitting a pitch to a company. Most firms won't even consider a pitch without one. Finally, the plan needs to include an "ask," the amount of money requested. This dollar amount is an important indicator of how much the entrepreneur believes the company is worth. Be prepared to offer an explanation of how that amount was derived and how the company plans to use those funds. The right amount of money is enough to enable the organization to raise more money at a higher price. If the amount is too little, the business runs the risk of funds running out early. If it is too high, entrepreneurs risk selling off too much of the stock for not enough capital.

Some venture capital company investors also choose to be involved in humanitarian efforts to assist entrepreneurs in other countries and create more jobs and wealth among the needy. These social investors often choose firms that provide training, mentoring and financial support to launch these new initiatives. When investors know that a project has a social bent, they are usually not as concerned about their return on investment or expecting one quite as high. They simply want to help. Venture capital investments aren't for every endeavor. The risk is high. But it can launch a business into the competitive market.

Liability Insurance Company

A general liability insurance company provides protection for all sizes and types of businesses against the loss of their assets. When a business is sued by an employee (past or present) or a customer and ordered to pay damages to the injured party, a liability policy pays the damages. In most cases, the insurance protection keeps the business from selling assets or perhaps even declaring bankruptcy to pay the court-ordered judgment. A company may purchase this type of protection as part of a packaged business owners policy (BOP) that also includes property insurance. However, the liability component of a BOP often has low coverage limits that may not be suitable for some companies. For higher coverage limits, most companies will purchase separate commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies. Certain companies may feel that even these policies do not provide enough protection. They may also decide to purchase some type of umbrella policy that will pay court-ordered damages beyond the coverage provided by the primary CGL policy. A reputable general liability insurance company will have knowledgeable agents who can help business owners make wise decisions about the types of policies and coverage limits that are needed to full protect the business's assets.

Several factors will go into determining the amount of coverage a company should have and the types of injuries that should be covered. A knowledgeable agent that represents a general liability insurance company will discuss such issues with clients as the business's level of risk, the litigation reputation of the state in which the business is located, and the risk tolerance of the business owners. Let's take a brief look at each of these important factors. First, some businesses are inherently more dangerous than others. For example, it's highly unlikely that anyone will sue a self-employed accountant who works out of his home office. However, a major manufacturing corporation will have warehouses, heavy equipment, and perhaps toxic chemicals on their premises. The likelihood of someone being injured is much greater for the manufacturer than for the self-employed accountant. The agent and client should discuss the risks inherent in a particular business when deciding on the types and levels of CGL coverage that can be provided by the liability insurance company.

The second factor concerns the reputation that a state has for awarding high damages in personal injury lawsuits filed against corporations. The juries in some states are known to be generous in their awarding of both damages while juries in other states seem to be more circumspect in their monetary awards. An agent with a general liability company that is writing policies for businesses in a generous state will want to recommend high levels of coverage to the clients whose companies are located in that state. In addition to a primary CGL policy, the agent may also recommend an umbrella policy. The third factor involves the risk-tolerance of the clients. Some people want to be insured to the max against any and all possible risks. Others are too willing to take unnecessary chances. A knowledgeable agent will help clients balance their tolerance for risk so that they purchase an appropriate CGL policy at a reasonable price. A careful consideration of each of these factors, and perhaps others, will enable a general liability insurance company to provide a high level of service to its clients.

King Solomon wrote that: "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness" (Proverbs 15:2). A knowledgeable general liability agent can often advise clients on ways to reduce risk and the likelihood of having a lawsuit brought against them. High quality control standards will ensure that manufacturers sell products that are safe when used properly. Businesses should keep all records up-to-date and have a written document retention and archival policy. Employees, especially those who work with heavy equipment, factory machines, and with toxic chemicals, should be properly trained. Workplace safety should be a priority for all companies, but especially in factories and industrial settings. The liability insurance company will probably require its policyholders to report all accidents or any other incidents that might lead to a future lawsuit, to keep careful records pertaining to any of these kinds of situations, and to cooperate with any investigations that may arise. If the business fails to comply with these provisions, the company may not have to pay any of the damages that are awarded to the plaintiff against the business.

A liability insurance company may specialize in a certain type of coverage rather than selling CGL protection. For example, when employees are injured at the workplace, they are usually eligible for workers' compensation. Almost all employers are required by state law to carry workers' compensation coverage. Though the workers' compensation helps injured employees, its primary purpose is to protect employers from being sued by an injured employee. The self-employed accountant mentioned in an earlier example may not have any employees. He might not be too concerned about clients injuring themselves in his home office, either. But he may purchase some type of professional policy that protects him from a lawsuit against a disgruntled client. Similarly, physicians carry malpractice insurance to protect themselves in the case of a patient's lawsuit. Corporate officers usually purchase a directors and officers (D&O) policy that protects the corporation from the words and actions of its directors and officers. Regardless of the type of policy, policyholders are advised to be aware of what types of injuries are covered and the maximum coverage limits. A policy may have a maximum payout for a policy period or per occurrence. Punitive damages are usually not covered under these types of policies. Here again, the advice of a knowledgeable agent representing a reputable liability insurance company will be invaluable to the potential policyholder.

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