Entrepreneurship is an important engine for the growth of an economy, and it requires refuelling in the form of investors. India is experiencing a surge of startups as well as entrepreneurs across verticals and industries. This has further toughened the landscape for acquiring funds.
Entrepreneurs have to grab the attention of investors in the right way in order to expand and diversify their offerings. Startups are naturally very passionate and excited about their businesses, but communicating this passion as a viable venture for investors is equally crucial.
The process or route to obtaining funds can be extremely cumbersome and time-consuming. To simplify this process, there are certain guidelines that entrepreneurs should follow. In my view if the following guiding principles are followed to the tee, the probability of acquiring funds will increase manifold.
A Concrete Idea
Building a workable and scalable idea is fundamental to this process in the first place. You may have trust and belief in your idea, but it needs to be applicable and functional in the marketplace. The business model needs to be scalable and relatable to other industries as well.
The idea/ proposal should be clear in your mind and the USP should be communicable to the investors under 60 seconds. Instead of submitting a business plan of 90 pages, focus on the main parts, such as: approach for profits, competitive advantage and summary.Only if your conviction is strong, will the investors be convinced.Have you seen pitches being made on the popular series Shark Tank? This could be an easy reference.
Right Investor and Right Attitude
Generally investors or venture capital firms focus on a specific segment/ industry. These are usually sectors in which investors have acquired expertise over time. It is crucial to find an investor who is the right fit for the venture. The background work should be in place as to whom you should approach for an investment. Having an experienced investor on board is also very helpful as the investor can later provide expertise and subject matter knowledge. This can prove to be extremely advantageous for the company with respect to future endeavours.
Keeping Metrics Handy
All the metrics and projections for the business should be ready and at the tips of their fingers. From revenue projections to business cash flows to the size of consumer base, all the basic financial metrics should be handy. Unpreparedness or poor knowledge reflects a lack of interest and does not bode well with potential investors.
Knowledge and expertise of the market and the competition landscape in one’s specific field/ industry is imperative. One should be aware of all the major players, their market share and the competitive advantage against the existing market practices. This will help the entrepreneur standout and provide a whole some view of the offerings to the investors.
Flexible on the Idea
Belief in an idea is one thing, but stubbornness is an unattractive trait. The investors need to have trust in the company that they are investing in. They need to be assured that they are investing their resources with rational minds, who will be flexible enough in times of crises and can be trusted to make the correct choices if things go downhill.
Deployment of Funds
The company needs to know the answer to questions, such as: how would you deploy the funds, how would the fund help the company grow and what is the future plan for the company?The company should have a precise answer to these questions and a well charted out path designed specifically for the utilization of funds.
Building Great Teams
Curating a good workforce is essential for startups. As the numbers are small and contribution of each employee crucial, the quality of each employee becomes pivotal. Specifically, good representation and credentials at the top management heighten the reputation of the company in the eyes of investors.
After the first meeting, keeping in touch and following up is necessary. One shouldn’t pester, but following up with more information/facts about the company is a good way to stay connected with the investors. Maintaining cordial relations and networking always helps in the future.
Lastly, like it is said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Perseverance and time yields results and companies must practice patience, as closing a round of funding can be a time consuming effort.