If an entrepreneur is to be successful these days, he or she might want to read up on Winston Churchill.

Investors these days want to see a lot of blood, sweat and tears from startups as well as sound business plans, deliverable products and customers before putting in the cash.

“There is blood out there. Real blood,” said Kent Christison, one of the co-chairs for the upcoming Money & Markets forum from the Council for Entrepreneurial Development next week. “If you are an entrepreneur and getting ready to leave a job, or you are ready to start something, you’ve got to realize it’s going to take your heart and soul to make it work.

“If you are willing to make that investment, there are great opportunities.”

Christison, an attorney at Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, and co-chair Les Bethune of Ernst & Young LLP have put together a program of speakers and panels for Money & Markets that they believe reflect the tough, new startup environment. In fact, the title for the day reflects the changing times: “Financing, Partnering and Value Creation Strategies for a Changing Economy.”

Long gone are the days of getting “ideas” funded, they say. And entrepreneurs who even have a company started with deliverables may have to find alternative means of getting funded, given that venture capitalist investments shrunk in 2002 to the lowest level since 1997.

“If you want to take a chance on a dream, realize that the dream is going to take sweat,” Christison said. “But there is more required than swat. Investors are also requiring implementation. People aren’t just buying ideas any more.”

To help entrepreneurs find their way through the maze of obstacles they face, Money & Markets is bringing in more than 50 speakers, and 11 panels. Among the subjects are:

  • Alternative financing
  • Exits: Getting deals done
  • Sustainability and value creation
  • Strategic investors

Mark Vitner, a top economist for Wachovia, also will be on hand to discuss what appears to be on the horizon.

“Last year at this time we were still talking about Initial Public Offerings and exit strategies. Values were already there,” Christison said. But IPOs have virtually disappeared, and few Triangle firms made good “exits” last year — such as TogetherSoft, which was acquired by Borland.

“This program is how to create value now in this environment where an environment still exists for investment but there is a longer time horizon and more persistence is required in implementing a business plan,” Christison added.

“The new trend is that you have to be more substantive in the sense that you’ve got to prove you have something to sell. Assuming it’s substantive, you can find some money.”

CED: www.cednc.org