Thousands of entrepreneurs strike out on their own every year and start their own businesses. Although they begin with high hopes and plenty of promise, the fact is that less than half of those companies survive through the fourth year of operation, according to Small Business Trends.
One of the key factors in small business success is funding, and a surprising 93 percent of small-business owners do not have enough cash to last 18 months. Although personal funds and bank loans are the top two ways startups get funded, another way to generate financing for your small business is to find individuals who are interested in promising investment ideas.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just finding potential investors. You have to do plenty of work to show them you’re a viable and worthy investment.
It All Starts with a Plan
Before you consider looking for investors, you need to have a solid, strategic business plan in place, says Ron Sturgeon, the real-estate entrepreneur and business consultant known as Mr. Mission Possible.
“You have to know what your costs are going to be and what kind of return on investment your business is going to yield,” Sturgeon says. “All too often, people dive into opening a business without doing research on their industry and the audience they need to target. If you do your due diligence, it will tell you where to focus your efforts — and lets investors know where their money is going.”
Often, Sturgeon says, new entrepreneurs don’t have a “money problem” but, instead, a problem with having a good enough plan or knowing everything they need to know about running their business. You’ll need a plan to continue your growth, so why not make it do double duty as an investment proposal as well?
“There’s plenty of money out there,” Sturgeon says. “Banks have it; investors have it. If all you need is more money, then you don’t have a problem. You just need a better plan.”
Learning How to Attract Investors
One of the first things you can do is make sure that your business plan is realistic and your goals and benchmarks are achievable. If you’re not sure, look for a local SCORE office, where you can find experienced business mentors who can help you through the process.
They can provide educational resources, workshops, and one-on-one mentoring that can help you find areas in your business plan that need improvement or see what might raise potential red flags for investors.
Once you have a great plan, you can begin looking for the right investors. Here’s a look at five different approaches you can take:
Crowdfunding programs like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Go Fund Me have dramatically changed the world of investing in startups. While these are well-known personal websites, there are other types of equity crowdfunding platforms that are specifically geared toward business startups, such as Seedinvest and AngelList. In addition to helping raise capital, these platforms can be valuable in raising the profile of your business and essentially become a source of free marketing.
Much of succeeding in business is about knowing the right people, and one of the best ways to meet those people is to attend industry events and conferences. Have an elevator pitch prepared so you’re ready if the opportunity arises to talk to someone who could potentially become an investor in your startup.
Look for Incubator and Accelerator Programs
Many cities now have startup incubator and accelerator programs that are designed to nurture new entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need. These programs vary but usually are cyclical, meaning you’ll need to apply to get into a program at a specific time. Not only can they be helpful in providing business advice and helping you fine-tune your work, but they are often a valuable resource for meeting potential investors.
Work Social Media
Social media is a great resource to help you spread your message, and it can also help you test the waters to see what kind of response you get from potential customers. It’s an effective — not to mention free — way to crowdsource ideas, and it could help you attract angel investors or venture capital investors. Follow investors on social media, and then make sure your posts are attention-grabbing.
Write a Blog
Establishing yourself as an expert in your field helps solidify credibility and could play a role in attracting investors. Telling your story on a blog and then sharing that blog through LinkedIn or an industry-related site is an excellent way to invite investors into your world. You can also follow the blogs of potential investors you’re interested in and leave thoughtful comments on their posts to start building a relationship. Once you’ve secured your investment, CORT Furniture Rental can help you make the most of your capital by helping you create a well-designed workspace without the high up-front cost of purchasing business furniture.