As an entrepreneur, it is vital you raise sufficient capital to fund your emerging company. Here are a few insights about how you should prepare yourself for one of the most challenging, stressful, and exciting parts of establishing your own business.
1. Invest in yourself
Demonstrate that you have confidence in your own business by investing your own resources.
Many entrepreneurs self-fund by taking advantage of personal equity or credit cards or by borrowing from friends and family. In most cases, you should avoid seeking funding sources from outside your immediate circle until you have achieved proof of concept and some type of demonstrable revenue stream.
When the time comes, you will find that funders are typically far more likely to invest when they see your willingness to risk your own capital in the success of your enterprise.
2. Create a plan
A detailed and thorough business plan shows potential investors—and yourself—the strengths your company has to offer and the means you have available to achieve success. A strong business plan will also offer something any potential investor will want to see: a solid run-down of the numbers involved in your business.
3. Get ready to sell
Selling is one of the major skills any entrepreneur needs in order to achieve success. Some experienced entrepreneurs, in fact, have said that the key to raising large amounts of capital is simply the ability to make a sale and close the deal.
Selling others on your company depends in large part on your knowledge. Know what you have to offer. Be able to provide concrete details about what you do, how you do it successfully, and how your product or service differentiates itself from competitors in the market.
Know what your investors are seeking in a company. Venture capitalists and institutional lenders offer their funding with the goal of making a profit. You are most likely to gain an investor’s confidence when you can provide specifics through a confident and concise—but still information-rich—presentation.
Investors will want to see that you have set yourself on the path to implementation by the time you ask them for funds. They will also want to see that you are confident in your own abilities through your willingness to invest your own resources.
4. Prove your capacity
You will need to demonstrate to potential investors your ability to manage the major components of your business—your money, collaborators, and operations, as well as the project itself—all at once.
You will need to convince a potential funder that your business project is viable and offers a competitive edge in its sector. It is also highly advantageous to demonstrate that you and your partners and business associates have the experience and know-how to get the job done right. Be prepared to discuss your professional backgrounds and previous successes.
5. Show them the money
Most of your financial information will be based on projections rather than balance sheets in the early days of your company. So be prepared to outline, in detail, for potential funders the extent to which your company has the ability to turn a profit.
Be candid about any challenges you face; experienced investors understand that even the best start-up idea brings associated problems. By showing investors that you have recognized yours and that you have a plan in place to deal with them, you will be demonstrating a healthy amount of professionalism.
Show investors your plan for deploying their funds strategically. And don’t expect to earn their confidence if you will be earmarking their investments for your own salary. Experienced funders expect a CEO to have enough cash reserves or other resources to supply his or her own salary. Tell them your projections and timelines for returns on investment, and give them your best estimate regarding the dollar amounts of those returns.
6. Look for investors close to home
Friends and family members can be a key early source of investment. Present your investment opportunity to them in the same way you would to any other kind of investor, showing them the projected returns and outlining your plans for management and development. You might just discover that your loved ones see a lot of potential in you and are willing to help further your dreams in return for a promising investment.
7. Stay on the side of the angels
Maintain visibility for yourself and your company among networks of angel investors, some of whom may well include family members and friends. In contrast to venture capitalists, angel investors are in the game to help new businesses they believe in get off the ground or sustain early momentum. Angel investors’ lending terms are typically far more favorable than those of other funders, and they are less likely to insist on a controlling interest in a company.
8. Talk to a banker
Traditional banks may not be your first thought when it comes to capital funding, but many can offer you small business loans at attractive rates, depending on factors such as your collateral and credit history. A bank loan can provide several benefits to your new business, in addition to cash flow. For one, it can help raise your credit score while demonstrating to other investors that you are a serious businessperson offering a solid opportunity worth their risk.
9. Get social
More and more entrepreneurs are experiencing success by using today’s variety of crowdfunding online platforms. Make sure to perform your due diligence in ascertaining a site’s trustworthiness and track record of success.
10. Connect with Uncle Sam
The United States Small Business Administration website offers information about a wide range of subsidized state and federal funding sources for entrepreneurs, including loans, investments, and grants.
Finally, remember that no matter what type of funding stream you end up accessing, make sure to consult an experienced attorney, as well as your entrepreneurial mentors, to make sure you understand the conditions, interest rates, and obligations you will be committing yourself to with any particular loan or investment.
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