You’re probably tired of hearing this but it’s the truth – businesses need money in order to make money. While there are quite a few sources of alternative financing available in this day and age, most people tend to prefer the traditional route of pitching to the investors. My name is Jeremy Powers and this post is about how to make that perfect pitch and make an investor want to give you their money.
First things first – what do you want the money for? Is it to realise an awesome idea? Or do you just need some cash flow reserves for your day-to-day work? The type of your loan would depend on the purpose of your loan. For example, a grant would be best suited for realising a business idea from the start, whereas a bank loan would have a more specific purpose such as property or asset purchase.
Decide on the Most Suitable Financing Plan
Once you decide on which type of financing you require, you would need to figure out the impact it would have on your overall growth and expansion strategy, as well as on the general state of the company. This is particularly relevant in case of a bank loan, since you would need to be repaying it at some point. It goes without saying that the research into the funding options and schemes available to you would take you quite a bit of time, and some applications take even longer. This period of time is worth it, however – a good business plan requires a lot of work, and you don’t want all that work to be wasted solely because you’ve chosen a funding option that’s totally wrong for your company. I also need to remind you that it’s likely that your investors are very much aware of the schemes available to you and they won’t be very impressed if it’s clear that you haven’t done your research on them.
Vamp Up Your Business Plan
Secondly – business plans. While a business plan is only one type of a pitch, what I’m about to say applies to all types of pitches in general. Investors, lenders, other sources of funding – they all talk Money. This is why your business plan has to be written in accordance with the dialect of Money. What is “the dialect of Money”, you might ask? Essentially, it means that both you and the investors need to be convinced by your pitch that each of you would receive their money’s worth if your pitch is approved. After all, in order to build a successful relationship, both parties need to speak the same language and in this case, it is the aforementioned dialect of Money. If you don’t know it, the best case scenario would be that you turn out a perfectly lucrative offer solely because you didn’t understand it. The possible worst case scenario is that your investors would laugh you out of the room for making a basic-level finance-related error and you would have a reputation in their circle which would lead to difficulties with securing any future funding.
Before your pitch is approved, you need to not only create an awesome business plan, but be able to answer various kinds of finance-related questions about your company and your short- and long-term plans. Therefore, it would be a very good idea to brush up on your knowledge of financial terminology before you engage in a dialogue using the dialect of Money. In particular, you should take into account various risks and have a good idea of their financial consequences and be able to explain them to the investors. Your accountant should be able to help you out if you feel like you might need it.
The Main Person is You
Thirdly, you need to remember that investors are people. While the content of a business plan, a presentation and the overall pitch is the most important thing, no serious investor is going to be impressed if you show up in your workout gear with a couple of pieces of paper hastily stapled together. It is also important to proofread your business plan at least twice the day before submitting it, just in case you made typos or any other errors. Remember – your business plan is a reflection of you and your company.
I know that various industries, particularly technology and media, are a lot more laissez-faire when it comes to dress code and presentation than, for example, finance industry, but this pitch is perhaps the most important event for your business to date. You can’t really afford to get anything wrong and it would be particularly frustrating if you miss out solely because you have no presentation skills. This is a competition and there are quite a few impressed candidates out there who want your chosen investor’s money. He or she has a lot of business plans to read and a lot of presentations to get through, so if they see that you haven’t made the required effort, they wouldn’t bother reading past the second page or listening past the second slide. Remember – it’s all in the details.
Building Trust and Rapport
Fourthly, you need to keep in mind that, even after you wowed your investors with your pitch and received the funding, you might need additional funding after a certain period of time. For that reason, it’s very important to build an initial rapport with the investors and keep them updated about your company’s progress. If they’re well-informed about where their money is going towards and are confident that you’re using it for its very purpose, you have a higher chance of securing further funding with their help. From your experience of searching for investors for the initial loan, you would know that it is a time-consuming process, and quite often, you might need the funding sooner than this process would end. Even if you find new investors relatively quickly, I don’t think I need to remind you that impressing them would also take up a lot of your time and resources, and the economy might not be on your side.
Generally speaking, you need to keep in mind at all times the purpose of why you’re pitching to the investors (you want their money) and what their money is going to be used for. If you can show that you’re a professional both on paper and in person, and would be able to put their money to a good use, your chances of securing funding would increase substantially.