Regardless of how good your product or service is, the success or failure of your business will most likely be determined by your ability to obtain and maintain adequate funding. But with so many businesses vying for the dollars of venture capitalists these days, you need to find ways to make your company stand out from the competition.
In the interest of helping you obtain the funding you need, here are 5 things you can do to make your company more appealing to venture capitalists.
The odds of a venture capital firm investing in a company they are not introduced to via a warm and credible contact are extremely low. That's why networking is so critical. As an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to network effectively to create industry awareness of your company and establish connections to gain access to the right people.
If you're wondering when the best time to network is, a simple rule of thumb is that you should never not be networking.
2. Do your homework
Remember, investors are not going to come beating your door down. You have to go after them. That being said, it's crucial that you do your homework before making your pitch, to make sure that the investors you are pitching will be a good fit for your company.
Talking to others who have worked with an investment firm you are interested in, and attending conferences to hear potential investors speak can be invaluable. When choosing potential investors, keep in mind that it's not just about supplying you with needed funds, they should also supply you with valuable experience, contacts, creative ideas and mentoring skills that will make your business more valuable.
Finally, remember to be honest with yourself about how much of your company you're willing to give up to obtain necessary funding. Plus, you need to know your true exit strategy. If your plan is to run your company until you retire, you can expect your search for funding to be more difficult, as most equity investors will expect to cash out by the 10-year mark.
3. Build a winning team
For most savvy investors the decision to go with your company will come down to your management team. Building a diversified team of intelligent and passionate individuals with stellar track records will go a long way in making your company more appealing to investors.
On average, for every hundred business plans pitched, only one will actually get funding. And 40% of those that do get funding will still fail. If investors perceive that your management team is savvy, motivated, and has a solid understanding of the dynamics that drive your business-as well as the risks involved---you stand a much better chance of obtaining funding.
4. Make a solid pitch
If ever there was a time to follow the sage advice of the old adage, "Keep it simple, stupid," it would be when making your pitch. Simple, straightforward, well-rehearsed pitches boiled down to four or five bullet points will be far more effective than lengthy presentations backed up by mounds of data.
Stick to answering the questions that will be on your potential investor's minds, such as, How big is the market? What will give your business an advantage in gaining market share? What is your business model? How qualified and committed is your team? What are the risks? And remember that, while fancy graphs and sales projections may seem impressive to you, investors are looking for the "steak" not the "sizzle".
5. Use social media
In today's world where social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are playing major roles in how companies generate business, you should be utilizing these avenues to generate investor attention. Once you've targeted the investors you'd like to attract, formulate simple, direct and unconventional social media campaigns to let them know who you are and why they should check you out.
Photo credit: medcitynews.com
Bio: Robert Cordray has worked for over 20 years in the business realm as an entrepreneur and business consultant. He is a freelance writer for noomii.com. Noomii.com provides business/career coaches for all those looking for the right direction. You can often find Robert through twitter.