One of the most difficult times for entrepreneurs is when they realize that in order to succeed they are going to need more money than their business can generate. What will it take to get your company funded?
There is no shortage of money! For the right opportunity, there is someone willing to invest and put their money to work for an increased return. Here are the 4 Keys every bank, family, friends and investors are looking for:
- Who are you?
- What is your product or service?
- How much money do you need?
- When do I get my money back?
Even though there are only 4 things people are looking for, I have added an additional key which is often overlooked but extremely important. Let’s profile each one to give you insight and perspective.
First, my bonus key to getting funded: the framing of your opportunity. It does not matter whether you are seeking money from a bank, family, friends or investors you cannot leave it up to them to see the potential. You must hold their hand and guide them to the promise land. Often times they lack the vision and understanding to see the opportunity and potential.
The second key is: Who are you?
Remember they probably don’t know you, so they are investing in your ability to execute. Sell yourself! What is your experience, track record, especially failures and how you learned from them? Think if someone you didn’t know asked you to invest, what would it take for you to give them money?
The third key is: What is your product or service?
What is unique about your offering? How will it take businesses or people from what is now to what is next? No one invest in also rans. If you knew the outcome of a race prior to betting, would you put your money on the number 2, number 3, etc.? Everyone loves a winner!
The fourth key is: How much money do you need?
This is just as important as who you are. Asked for what you need. Never be afraid to ask for the money. An investor wants to give you the amount you need to get to the next level. They don’t want you to run out of capital and now they have to decide whether to invest more or let you die. If you don’t know how to do accurate projections hire someone, it will be worth it (see Financial Management). Most investors put a lot of emphasis on the numbers because they believe if you can’t manage the numbers how are you going to manage a business. It is amazing that 9 out of 10 investor packages we see have the numbers inaccurate, because they don’t account for all expenses or have exaggerated expectations.
The fifth key is: When do I get my money back?
Investors are not in for the long haul or lifetime, neither are banks. That’s why they have terms of maturity when the loan will be repaid. Most investors want a 3-5 year exit, so be clear what that event looks like i.e. sell the company or have enough cash to repay the investor in full, etc. Remember the greed factor! We have all heard Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary: “I like money!” They did not give you their money for you to hold for them, so be generous in how much you will repay them.
These are the guidelines we use when securing equity investments for our clients. If you adhere to these simple principles you will have a greater chance of getting a check!
Author: André Wilson ‘The Banker’, Managing Partner, former Wall Street investment banker, specializes in structuring and securing capital for small and medium size businesses.
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