Our Mission and Backstory

Four Colors of Money

Our mission is to help young and growing businesses really understand all their financing options with a minimum of time and money.

We will achieve our mission by creating content for Financial Cross-Training. Businesses and budding entrepreneurs will learn about all financing options with minimal bias. They will learn through multiple modalities in order to maximize understanding: written word, video, audio, graphics, social interaction, interactive tools, kinesthetic exercises, and self-reflection.

Welcome to the Four Colors of Money for Entrepreneurs! We are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses solve their money issues.

At this point “we” is just me – Don Gooding. I’m a third generation entrepreneur, and throughout my career I’ve been a tech venture capitalist, an angel investor, and a leader in an emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem.

I’ve been a writer, a speaker, a teacher, a mentor, an expert, a performer, and even hosted a television show (Maine’s version of “Shark Tank”).

Helping young and small businesses is in my blood. Before my dad joined a tech startup, he was helping minority businesses access loans in the 1960s and ‘70s. He ended up developing training materials for them, to help them succeed.

His dad, my grandfather, started an industrial roofing company in Pennsylvania right after World War II. My cousins are the third generation running the business.

My Back Story

I was a tech venture capitalist for 11 years, and an entrepreneur in a cappella music for 16 years. After “selling” my three a cappella businesses (mostly unloading them – I was burned out), I took a couple of years to figure out what was next. I almost went back to grad school (at age 50) to get a masters in economics. Instead, in January 2010 I decided I wanted to “teach entrepreneurship.”

Long story short, I’ve done a bunch of things in Maine to help jump-start the entrepreneurial community here. In the process I’ve trained and helped hundreds of businesses, and learned a lot about their diverse industries, backgrounds, ambitions, needs, frustrations.

A common theme is that the “money side of the business” is new, challenging, and sometimes mysterious and intimidating to many first time businesses. I still remember the overwhelming attendance at an early Lunch and Learn talk I gave called “Financials For The Math Challenged.”

I’m a math geek, but most people aren’t. In fact, poor math education is one root cause for lots of entrepreneurs getting cold sweats when they look at financial reports, or avoiding the numbers altogether.

But that’s by no means the only problem.

In our free market system, the people most motivated to educate businesses about money and financing are those selling money and financial services. Accountants, bankers, venture capitalists, software companies, and now Fintech companies do their part to “educate.”

Problem is, they bring bias to financial and financing education. “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Accountants love numbers. That’s why they chose the profession. So they show math challenged business owners lots of numbers!

Bankers love to use jargon explaining their products. Venture capitalists believe only they finance the most exciting and important companies. Factors and equipment lessors hawk a specific financing solution to a specific cash flow problem. Government grant providers talk their own special language. Crowdfunding enthusiasts teach how wonderful it is.

And almost nobody talks about Bootstrapping because nobody makes money selling hard core Bootstrapping.

This final point reminds me of something I learned trying to sell a cappella music (singing without instruments), which can be the cheapest kind of music to perform. “The best things in life may be free, but that means they don’t have a marketing budget.”

Which brings me full circle back to my Why.

I believe entrepreneurship and small businesses are crucial to making the world a better place for my daughters to live in.

And I haven’t seen anyone doing a good job helping entrepreneurs to understand fully their financing options to launch and grow their businesses, especially the Bootstrapping option and the tradeoffs between Bootstrapping and the other “colors of money.”

So I’ll be spending much of the rest of my career fixing that.

 

If you’ve read this far, I hope you will be inspired to help achieve this mission! Whether you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, services provider, ecosystem builder, financing provider or just an enthusiast, I could use a bit of your time, attention and feedback.

Please join our email list, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and comment on our blog posts.

Thank you for being here!

Don Gooding

Don Gooding

1 comment

  • “Bankers love to use jargon explaining their products” is so true. I don’t work with entrepreneurs but with finance professionals and I still see lack of confidence and even timidity when discussing ideas and financial products with i-bankers. As you say, “poor math education” (and “poor finance education”) are at the root of this. It’s not complicated, it’s simple.
    Good luck with the mission, I’ll be following closely.

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