When you’re starting a business, a key fence you need to hurdle is the financial one. You’ve got to find sufficient capital to cover not only your initial costs but also the expenses you’ll incur in the first year or two while the business gets on its feet.
But where do you go to get the money? You could approach your bank, but that’s very much a box-ticking exercise and, often, we simply don’t fit into boxes. (Plus, sometimes we prefer not to 😉).
So, why not think in a more ‘Dragons’ Den’ way and look in the direction of other entrepreneurs and business owners? They’ve almost certainly been in your position themselves and will know how important the non-box things are: drive, creativity, passion, belief, perseverance and, at the heart of it all, a darned good idea. They’ll be able to understand your situation in a way that an employed bank worker can’t and, if you find the right person/people, they’ll probably be able to give you some great advice and could even end up becoming a mentor or coach to you and your fledgling business.
So, get out there!
Events are great vehicles for meeting potential investors. Most industry organisations and associations have annual shows and conferences, which attract both high-profile speakers and people looking for new mutually-beneficial opportunities. Successful people love finding news ways to make money, so there will always be a number of ‘angel investors’ scouting at big events.
Then there are the smaller, more local networking events, which are great opportunities to get your name and business out there among other entrepreneurs and motivated businesspeople in your area. A simple Google search will bring up what’s on and information about where you might be able to meet investors, such as options in London listed on Eventbrite. Not every event you go to will be fantastic, but the more often you get out there, the more quickly you’ll find the best ones. Linkedin is a great source for identifying what’s worth going to and your local business associations should also be happy to make recommendations.
Who should I approach?
This is the first big question for many people: how do you know who to speak to? Well, often you don’t. While you might recognise the more successful names and faces, when you walk into an event you really have no idea who might be in a position to invest, so simply introduce yourself to as many people as possible.
Tip: Do some online research before an event and try to identify any attendees that you think might be able to help you, in any capacity. Contact them beforehand and arrange to meet at the event – it’s much less scary when you’ve made plans and can be prepared.
What should I say?
Here’s the second big question: what do you say when you’re looking for investment? How do you start and how up-front should you be about what you want? You might be worried about saying either too much or too little – creating the wrong impression or, even worse, no impression at all!
Take a deep breath, relax and think about how you like to be approached by other people. A big smile, eye contact and a warm handshake are your starting points, followed by who you are and what your business is.
Tip: Ask other people questions about what they do. Not only will that make them warm to you, but it’ll help you judge whether they’re the right people to keep chatting with.
It’s certainly worthwhile listening to other people talk about how to present yourself and make the right first impression, particularly if you don’t feel naturally self-confident. This short TEDx talk by Caroline Goyder about breathing your way to confidence is a good starter.
And a great deal of self-confidence comes from knowing your subject inside out so, before you go to an event, make sure you’re clear on:
- Your business: exactly what it is / the concept
- Why & how the business is going to be profitable
- How much capital you need & why
- When and how investors will see returns.
Remember, you can always organise your own event. You might think your business is too small and new to be event-worthy and that there’s no way you could afford it, but it really needn’t be difficult or expensive. And if you have your own premises, you could always offer the space for other people to host their events. In life, you tend to get back what you put out there, so make a name for yourself as someone who’s not only looking for help and investment, but is also prepared to give to others.
If you’re a startup business and would like advice and support on creating events that will really help accelerate your success, why not apply for one of our Sleek consultancy packages? Get in touch with us today to find out more.