By John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirstAs small business owners we always need to keep a close eye on our finances. Unlike most large firms, we are unlikely to have much of a financial cushion to protect us if we run into trouble.
While fundraising is a necessity for most small businesses looking to grow, there isn’t a lot of guidance to help us produce the materials we need to hook investors.
Let’s look at some key information you need and necessary steps to take get the investment for future growth.
It’s not just about profitDon’t assume that an investor is just aiming to make money. Of course, investors want to believe that backing your business will bring them a decent return, however their trust in you will be triggered by their hot buttons.
There are two main types of hot buttons: emotional and rational. An emotional hot button might involve presenting an environmentally-minded investor with an innovation that protects rainforests. A rational hot button may involve offering an investment opportunity to a teetotaller who can see the soaring craft beer trend.
To locate an investor or funder’s hot button, get them to look at your pitch deck and financial model. Then ideally get someone independent to ask two questions: What stood out to them the most? And what was their biggest barrier to investment? Getting genuine answers to both questions will give you a more realistic understanding of what that investor needs.
Develop relationshipsYou need to start developing a relationship with potential investors. Sending information out of the blue may not have much impact. You need to pace the way you build the relationship and share information.
When you connect with a potential investor or funder, via LinkedIn, an investment website, such as the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA), or in-person, first send the prospective investor a short executive summary.
This summary will fit on one page (two at a push) and will include:
• The full terms of the deal – the amount you’re seeking and the type (loan, equity, bond, etc)
• Key information about your business such as the number of employees, projected or actual customer numbers, size of the space etc
• The directors and management team
• Your point of difference (which you base on your hot button research)
• Past experience or successes
• Current traction (if you’ve achieved anything)
• Any other key information that’s likely to help them make an investment decision
Next stepsThe investor will review your exec summary and may ask you to send over your presentation deck. This is a hugely positive signal and a sign you should initiate a face-to-face meeting, video conference or, failing both of those options, a call.
If this succeeds, you can send a stripped-down version of your presentation with no text to distract them. You can then talk them through your business and its strengths in your meeting or call.
Only when you’ve had a successful live discussion with the prospective investor do you leave them with a fuller version of your presentation. The text should include what you said in your meeting and also a full financial model in a spreadsheet. Don’t send them a lengthy text-heavy business plan, they probably won’t read it even if they ask for one!
Engage the investorWhen speaking to a potential investor, use the following skills to engage them:
• Active listening: By listening to the investor you can tailor your presentation towards the areas they are interested in. Always ask them about what they like to invest in before you pitch
• Identify their hot buttons and adapt your presentation accordingly
• Mirroring: This is a technique where you make someone feel more relaxed by mirroring their body language, which is why face-to-face or video meetings work best
• Recognise positive buying signals: If you present yourself in a calm but engaging manner investors may instinctively mirror you, relax and open up. Other signals include asking you more about the numbers, next steps and timescales
• ABC (Always Be Closing): Closing involves encouraging your prospective investor to reflect on how interested they are in your idea. Ask how they feel, what they like about your opportunity and whether they have any barriers to investing.