When you're out raising investment for your business, FORGET producing a 40 page Business Plan. Don't even THINK about sending a Business Plan out to people. Why? Because NOBODY has time to plough through this beast of a document!
Don't get me wrong. You need a Business Plan. Your Business Plan is a document for YOU, to guide you in how you are going to implement your business strategy.
But....when you're out raising investment, the document you REALLY need is a Pitch Deck. And this document needs to be STELLAR.
Your Pitch Deck is THE main tool you'll be using when you have conversations with prospective investors.
And you know what? Professional investors see HUNDREDS of Pitch Decks each year. So the truth is, you MUST make sure that YOUR deck does an outstanding job for you.
A great Pitch Deck can make ALL the difference in enabling you to be successful at raising finance.... so that you can take your business to the next level and stop treading water.
A great Pitch Deck enables you to do these 4 key things:
1) Build rapport with your investor
2) Show your investor how you can solve their problem
3) Qualify potential investors to make sure there's a good fit
4) Close their commitment to invest in your business
But guess what? Most entrepreneurs FAIL to address all 4 of these things in their pitch deck, and so they FAIL to secure investment.
Here are the 5 things I see that are wrong with most Pitch Decks:
1) They're overcomplicated
2) They don't tell a good story
3) They aren't honest and authentic
4) They're full of jargon
5) They don't look professional
And honestly, it makes me weep when I see what is a fantastic business, with a smart entrepreneur behind it, with great potential to secure investment for growth..... that is simply being LET DOWN with a poor Pitch Deck.
Have you produced your Pitch Deck yet? Is it good enough? Are you SURE it's good enough?! Want some help with it? Reach out and let's have a chat.
Do your eyes glaze over when you think about preparing your FINANCE stuff for fundraising?
Trust me, you are not alone!
But without having a strong handle on your numbers, and understanding how your business is performing, you don't have a chance in hell of getting investment.
Here's what you're going to need as a minimum:
1) Management accounts
Professionally produced and up to date. So if you've been putting all those receipts in a big box, or just tracking things on Excel, now's the time to get this sorted. You can do it yourself (I'd really recommend Xero). Or if you outsource, then for goodness sake make sure you really understand the numbers and what your book-keeper / accountant is doing.
2) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
These should include not only the critical financial indicators like Revenue, Margins and Profit, but also other indicators that are pivotal measures of how well your business is doing. This will depend on the nature of your business, but can include things like Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), repeat business, marketing effectiveness broken down by channel, customer service measures, production delivery times and quality measures just to name a few.
3) Financial forecast for the next 3 to 5 years.
This needs to be professionally produced, and should show not only your profit and loss, but also your balance sheet, and most importantly your cash flow. You will need to show what your funding requirements are, not only now, but also for any potential future investment rounds.
Once you've got your key information and forecasts, you're going to really need to understand how investors will interpret them, and the kind of financial questions they're likely to ask you.
At Enter The Arena , we help clients every single day to figure out what they need to do attract and close investors and secure finance in the fastest possible time, whilst also growing your army of brand ambassadors.
If you have a business that is solving a real and painful problem for your customers, that is getting great traction, and has great potential for growth...
If you're getting TIRED of not being able to move your business forward, because you don't have the funding you need...
If you want to secure at least £150k in equity finance...
Schedule some time in my diary, and let me help:
Let's do the MATHS on how you can achieve and surpass a crowdfunding target of £150k....
1) Ahead of your public crowdfunding campaign, reach out to your network of friends, family, business associates, customers, fans and followers. Let's assume you have 1,000 in your network, and you can get 5% of them interested enough to talk to you, with 30% of these making an average investment of £5k, then you have £75k in the bag. This gets you to 50% of your target, which is perfect ahead of a crowdfunding launch.
2) Create a fantastic pitch on a leading crowdfunding platform; let's assume 5% of the 300,000+ investors on the platform view your video, and 0.5% of these convert to an average investment of £1k. This gets you a further £150k investment
Total investment secured = £225k and you've smashed your target by 150%.
And all this is possible within 90 days. In just 90 days time, you could have those kind of funds, or way more, sitting in your bank account..
So the MATHS are SIMPLE.
Doesn't mean any of this is EASY!
It's up to YOU to make sure you have a really fantastic investment proposition.
It's up to YOU to reach out to your network, and position the opportunity in a really appealing way
It's up to YOU to close the interest from people.
It's up to YOU to create a stellar pitch deck, financial forecasts and pitch video.
It's up to YOU to keep the momentum going throughout your crowdfunding campaign.
It's up to YOU to get those people viewing your pitch to make an investment commitment.
If you have a business that is already getting great traction, and has huge potential, and you need the funds to help you grow it to the next level..... but you're just not sure how to approach the crowdfunding process...reach out and I can help.
For more tips and tricks for Equity Crowdfunding Success, join my free Facebook Group for entrepreneurs:
If you're an entrepreneur, how much of your own money (+blood, sweat and tears of course!) have you put into your venture so far?
The answer should be, as much as you can possibly afford to.
Why is this?
1) The longer you can go with your own personal funding, the more progress you can make without having to give away equity – so you should then get a higher valuation and give away less when you do raise externally.
2) Investors love it when you have skin in the game. It means you share the risk with them.
3) If you have your own money on the line, it drives you to achieve more, and be extremely mindful of costs along the way
4) When you make your business a great success, the financial rewards to you will therefore be greater.
5) If you don’t back yourself, then frankly, how can you expect anyone else to?!
For more strategy tips, tricks and advice on how to successfully crowdfund, then do come along and join my FREE Facebook Group for entrepreneurs:
If you're an entrepreneur with a reasonably early stage business, you're probably thinking about raising investment for growth at some point in your journey.
You're might already be talking to angels and wealthy individuals about the investment opportunity, or thinking about crowdfunding .
The thing is though, unlike VCs, those people you're talking to have absolutely no mandate or imperative to invest. This means that they’re usually looking for a reason to say ‘NO’ whenever an investment proposition comes before them.
So it's absolutely critical for you to understand where an investor might see risk in your business, and address their concerns up-front. There are at least 99 questions about your business that an investor might have in their head , and I am astounded on a daily basis how many entrepreneurs don't know the answers!
So get ahead of the pack and make sure you're well prepared. Here's a summary of the key areas that most investors will consider:
For a really comprehensive list of what you need to prepare, download this free report "99 Questions To Answer Before You're Ready For Investment" . And if we can be of any support to you as you prepare to go out to fundraise, or in running a crowdfunding campaign, then do get in touch .
Equity crowdfunding is an exciting and rapidly growing alternative way of raising money for business growth, and something that many entrepreneurs are considering for their next funding round. Crowdfunding is certainly an attractive route if you’re looking not only to raise finance, but also get the marketing halo that comes with putting your campaign in the public domain and attracting new investors that become your greatest brand ambassadors.
But let me warn you folks, a crowdfunding campaign is not EASY! Far from it.
Here’s a quick reality check on what’s involved, and how long it's likely to take:
I have personally found having a business coach to be transformational for me over the years, and so worth investing in. For me, the value add is really clear:
Every time I come out of a coaching session I feel refreshed, focused, and ready to take on the world!
Having a business coach doesn't need to cost the earth. You can see someone for a few hours every month, more intensively when you have a pressing need - for example when you're getting your business ready to raise investment - or just when you feel the need to. It's important to find someone who you like and can work well with.
At Enter The Arena , we help busy entrepreneurs successfully crowdfund, as well as getting them investment ready. As part of this, I work with many dynamic entrepreneurs as their business coach - the fact that I've been a successful entrepreneur myself over many years means I often know how they feel and can help give guidance and perspective. But that doesn't stop me needing my own business coach too!
If you're thinking about getting a business coach, particularly if you're at the stage where you need to get your business ready for investment, then do drop me a line and let's have a chat.
Although the statistics for parachute failure are not well recorded, about 1 in 500 fail, and the US Airforce estimates that 2-3% of jumpers will be injured and need help. Wow, sounds risky right? I’m not sure that I’d take my chances and jump right off a cliff, not really knowing whether my parachute was going to open, or whether I’d break my ankle at the bottom. Besides, I’m really scared of heights.
But that’s nothing compared to the risk of starting your own business, where the risks of catastrophe are so much higher. In the UK, 20% of businesses fail within the first year, 50% within three years . Which makes you wonder why the hell anyone would embark on the intrepid path of entrepreneurship.
The thing is, for many of us, entrepreneurialism is kind of in the blood – whether you do that within a corporate environment or out on your own. A love of taking an idea and making it happen, a constant journey of learning and growth, building a business that you always dreamed of, and taking control of your own destiny.
Starting your own business is a massive risk of course. But like parachute jumping, there is great joy and reward to be had on the descent, and there are many things you can do to mitigate that risk and increase your chances of a soft landing:
Consider a tandem jump
Starting on the entrepreneurial journey on your own is hard. I started my last business, Upper Street, with my sister Katy, and was so glad I did. It’s far less lonely when you have someone you can bounce ideas off and you can support each other through the challenges. Plus if you can find partners that all bring complementary skills, your business will get off to a great start.
Sign up with a reputable instructor
When embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, a good instructor can impart their experience and knowledge of how to open the parachute and not get tangled up in the cords like an idiot. Seek out a strong business mentor or seasoned advisors you can call on for specialist knowledge. I’d also recommend joining a few entrepreneurial or industry networking groups or signing up for a business incubator program; the support and learning you get from others will be invaluable. I was lucky enough to get onto the ASTIA programme , and it really gave me the leg-up I needed.
Get some practice jumps in
Despite the prolific media coverage of the teenage start-up success story, the average entrepreneur is aged 40 . The wealth of experience you can gather by working in corporate life or having started or run a business before should not be underestimated. My sister and I had both done plenty of ‘practice jumps’ – between us we had over 20 years of business experience before we started our own venture, and I had also run my own consultancy. The point being that you’re never too old to start a business, and in fact it can give you many advantages.
Study the weather report
You wouldn’t jump off a cliff in gale force wind. Equally in business, you need to get a strong sense that the market conditions are good before you leap. Understand the competition, the gaps in the market, the size of the potential, and whether there is underlying demand from consumers in what you are offering. Do your research! For us, this was a mix of desk-based research, but also canvassing target customer opinion (our friends, over pizza and wine). What are the possible ways the wind might blow so you can calculate where you might land? All of this should be captured in your business plan, and keep on checking the weather report all the time, as the wind can easily change direction.
Check your equipment
To make your business work, you need to have the right people, product, technology and systems. But you also need to take small steps. You wouldn’t buy your own parachute until you really became a seasoned jumper now would you? Work out what is business critical and what can be outsourced. Plan how you can keep things lean and watch your cash until you’ve got more proof points; test things out before you make major investments. We started our business by funding it ourselves and working with freelancers; it wasn’t until we had the proof points we needed before we took on external investment to try and scale the business more significantly.
Check that you have what it takes
Some people are comfortable with risk and like jumping out of planes or off cliffs; some would prefer to go for a nice walk in the country. It is not easy being an entrepreneur. It’s a lifestyle choice; it’s all encompassing. It will keep you awake at night; it will encroach on your family and social life at times. It will drain you of all the money and resources you have, at least for a while, and possibly permanently. And it is really likely that you will fail. But then again, you might succeed! You have to be comfortable with that.
At some point you just have to take that leap. So buckle up, stop talking about it, and get on with it. Remember, you’ll never have all the answers before you get started, but at least try and recognize what you don’t know. Positive naivety is what’s needed, and a very big pair of balls. Good luck! If I’d known then what I know now about how difficult it is to build a luxury design-your-own shoe business, I probably would never have done it. But I’m glad I did.
And of course, a safe landing is only the start. Because you’re then going to ditch that parachute, and enter the war zone terrain of entrepreneur country. Are you ready?
This post was originally published in Apex Women
Offering specialist skills - in a small and growing business, budgets are tight, so when angels offer to help out it's great - this might be in areas like financial strategy, marketing or technology. Geeta Sidu-Robb from Nosh Detox tells me that her angel investors give her access to city contacts she wouldn't normally come across. And I have a good handful of angel investors I've worked with like Richard Nall from The Brand Garden who have provided me with amazing support, it makes all the difference.
Being a brand ambassador - for many businesses where word of mouth is a really important way for new customers to discover the brand, it's really amazing to have an army of fans beating the drum for you. With my previous business Upper Street, where women could design their own shoes online, we made sure that all of our investors were wearing the best shoes! Crowdfunding is a really great way to give your customers the chance to become investors, as they can participate for relatively small amounts of money. And I know that Will King of King of Shaves will agree with me on this, as he's always raving about his 'shaving bond' and how he's built an army of committed fans through this, as well as a great source of finance.
A network for recruitment - Lisa Rodwell from Wool & The Gang tells me that she's often reached out to her angels for contacts either for employees or potential partners, and sometimes asks them to help with the interview process. Great idea.
Support and encouragement - it can be a lonely old place running a start-up sometimes, and it's great to have more cheerleaders on your side to encourage you to persevere. It always made my day when one of our investors dropped me a note to say that we were doing a great job. Please, angel investors, make sure you keep on patting your entrepreneurs on the head!
Having previously successfully crowd-funded for my business Upper Street, the British luxury shoe label where you can design your own shoes, p eople are always asking me for advice on how to best run their campaign, so I've put together my Top 5 Tips which I hope you might find useful: