This is clearly one of my favorite topics. Having raised nearly 100 million in equity and debt financing in my 40 years of business, I have learned what to do and what to avoid. I have certainly made my share of mistakes, but I have also had considerable success by following the advice of some experienced mentors.
Here are ten things that I consider a ‘must’ before asking for the check from a prospective investor.
- Complete a thorough business plan. Without one you’ll scare away almost all potential investors and lenders. A good business plan will give them the warm fuzzies that you have a detailed roadmap, a clear pathway to success.
- Prepare detailed financial projections to support the business plan. Every investor wants to know how soon that they’ll get their original investment back and how many multiples that they’ll receive for that investment. Don’t underestimate the importance of showing them how much money they’ll make for the risk they are taking.
- Establish a reasonable valuation on what your business is currently worth. If it is too overvalued, you’ll never get to first base. To determine how to value your company, use one or more of the standard methods such as the discounted cash flow of future earnings, market comparables or asset valuations.
- Put your presentation into a PowerPoint format that is a maximum of 20-30 minutes. Allow for 30 minutes of questions and answers after the presentation.
- Get background information on the potential investor so that you can tailor your presentation to his/her specific needs and interests. There is no such thing as ‘one presentation fits all’.
- Set up the presentation meeting at least two weeks in advance. Confirm the appointment in writing (probably e-mail). Make sure to remind the potential investor about the meeting 48 hours in advance.
- Secure a comfortable meeting site that is convenient for the investor and that will minimize potential distractions. Turn off your cell phone.
- Dress appropriately. The rule of thumb is to dress at least one level higher than the person to whom you are presenting.
- Avoid putting multiple prospective investors in the same presentation. The old saying is true that one rotten apple can spoil the barrel. One negative person in an audience can kill the interest of the others.
- Practice your presentation several times in front of associates to assure that the bugs are worked out, the timing is perfect, you are enthusiastic and you can answer all of the questions quickly and with confidence.
Although the aforementioned steps can’t guarantee that you’ll get the funding, they will undoubtedly increase your probability of success. Good luck.
About The Author
Professor Jim Solomon
Entrepreneur, MBA Professor, Certified Public Accountant
Jim Solomon is an accomplished entrepreneur, MBA Professor and Certified Public Accountant who has helped dozens of large corporations and small businesses achieve phenomenal growth and value. His unparalleled ability to secure funding, boost revenues and create exit opportunities comes from hands-on experience and an enormous rolodex.
To learn more about Professor Jim Solomon please visit www.professorjimsolomon.com and be sure to secure your free copy of his powerful new eBook, “Six Secrets To Starting Your Own Business”.