Thousands of startups spring to life every year, but only the fittest endure for long enough to turn a profit on the open marketplace. Often, the difference between a startup that thrives after a few years and those that suffer before shutting down is a good crop of investors who back the business up from the get-go. Despite the importance of finding an investor for your startup, however, it’s a task that’s easier said than done for most entrepreneurs.
Here are 7 steps to finding an investor for your startup, and what you should avoid if you’re committed to getting a long-term source of funding for your business.
- Determine your strengths and weaknesses
Before you can even begin searching for reliable investors for your startup, you need to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses as a business, so you can make an effective pitch for yourself. Far too often, entrepreneurs and aspiring startups focus too much on trying to find potential investors and not enough on what they’re actually going to say and present to these investors once they’ve got them in a meeting.
You should be compiling a list of reasons that your company stands out from competitors and should get to work on a presentation that could woo over potential investors. Similarly, you need to start thinking about unique ways that you can generate money in addition to finding a single or a few wealthy investors.
- Consider tapping into the power of crowdfunding
One thing that far too few startups consider is crowdfunding, which is too often viewed as an alternative to finding an investor when in reality it should be an adjacent aspect of attaining funding. If you’ve assembled an impressive war chest for your business through crowdfunding initiatives, for instance, investors are likely to believe you when you assert that there’s a clear interest in the product or service that your startup is seeking to peddle to the public.
At the very least, you should review the reasons commonly given for why startups should host a crowdfunding campaign to get some much-needed capital. Even if you fail to drum up some serious cash via crowdfunding, you’ll gain some experience pitching your ideas and startup to the general public before you try to lure in specific investors.
- Tap into your network
Rather than blindly searching for any investor who will take a phone call or meeting with you, it’s worthwhile to tap into your network to discover new sources of funding. Many of your existing business colleagues or personal relations may be aware of an investment opportunity that your startup can rely upon, for instance, and alum groups in particular stand to be a great source of money for most startups. Networking is useful for more than boosting your personal career – it establishes a positive brand for your startup and helps you get through tough times when money is tight.
Every aspiring entrepreneur should learn about the ways that networking can boost your startup to the next level. As you’ll soon discover, most startups that find a lucrative set of investors frequently only do so because of an interpersonal relationship with one of their new financial backers.
- Don’t be afraid to review angel investor networks
Your own network isn’t the only one you can make use of, either. Angel investor networks, like an investment bank, or member-based networks that often have exclusive membership and service startups by location, can be an excellent source of funding for your nascent business. Finding an angel investor is frequently considered a miracle, especially since they’re usually more willing to embark on larger and riskier business deals than traditional finance partners. Before you head to major institutions and the broader web, you should consider looking into local angel investor networks for your startup’s funding needs.
- Find a city that offers funding
For startups that haven’t yet settled down and established a headquarters, it’s worthwhile to find a city that offers funding to entrepreneurs and new economic initiatives. The top 10 cities for rising startups are likely brimming with funding opportunities for you to exploit, so you need to consider relocating your business if you’re struggling to drum up the amount of capital you need to keep the lights on.
Not every startup can afford to move to a new city in order to find funding, however. Sometimes, you’ll simply need to hit the web and search for national or international investors who can come to you to make the magic happen.
- New startups need venture capital
While established businesses may rely on established corporate finance measures to get the money they need, most new startups will need venture capital to turn their business dreams into an economic reality. Navigating the venture capital process is stressful and can be a real nightmare for those who aren’t financially savvy themselves, however. Nonetheless, getting your startup venture-backed means you can gain access to venture debt, which may be the thing you need to fuel a rapid expansion of your business that takes you to the next level.
When trying to find an investor for your startup, prepare to make sacrifices; you’ll need to cede away some of your sovereignty in exchange for venture capital funding. Making these kinds of sacrifices and staying at the head of your own business if what’s necessary for your startup to endure for long in the market.
- Be prepared for rejection
Finally, you need to understand that rejection is a natural part of looking for an investor for your startup. For every person willing to invest a dollar in your business, you’ll likely find two or three who laugh you out of the building regardless of how robust your business plan is. Learning how to move on from a defeat is an essential part of success, as every startup eventually stumbles. The difference between your startup succeeding and your startup failing is whether it can roll with the punches and hit the ground running after being shot down by a prospective investor.
Keep these 7 steps in mind, and your startup will have an investor behind it in no time.