You’re an entrepreneur with an idea. You’re looking for someone with the money to make it a reality. But once you’ve met this prospective investor, how do you charm them into sealing the deal?
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect app to match startups to potential sources of venture capital, and getting investors to “swipe right” on your business is slightly more difficult than taking a flattering profile selfie. Think of it as another type of sales. Only this time, you’re selling the whole package: your product, your business and most importantly yourself.
There is one similarity between online dating and securing venture capital: it’s all about making a good impression. Here are some helpful tips to show prospective investors that you truly have what it takes to succeed.
Before approaching a potential investor, pause to take stock of your situation. Ask yourself – am I really ready for this? Do I have enough to show this person that I’m serious? Am I making myself and my pitch worth their time?
An entrepreneur who is ready to seek out venture capital is generally one who has taken concrete steps to move past the “idea” stage. You have begun to assemble a team. You have created, at the very least, a prototype of the product you will be pitching. And – most importantly – you have shown yourself to be capable of raising at least some money on your own.
Never approach a prospect from a place of desperation. Your pitch should not be “my business will definitely fail without your help” but rather “I am ready to expand and, with additional funding, can confidently and successfully do so.”
Rehearse Your Pitch
Investors hear, see, and read hundreds of pitches. You have one shot to make yours stand out, to convince them that your venture is the one worth funding. There’s no quicker way to ruin your chances than by stuttering, stammering, or attempting to give an unrehearsed pitch on the fly.
Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your pitch until you are confident that you can go through it without notes or cue cards. Focus on nonverbal elements such as keeping your shoulders back and your posture straight and maintaining eye contact. Try out your pitch on friends or family members and get their advice before approaching any investors.
Show Them Something Real
The more concrete evidence you have to show your prospect, the more likely they are to see your idea as viable. A prototype of a product is a good place to start – but, if you can, take it even further. Try it out on a few customers and seek positive feedback. Keep careful track of all sales and earnings, even if you’re starting small.
Most importantly, show them that you have a plan. Investors want to know exactly where their money is going. Draw up a business plan which clearly outlines your money management strategies for both the short and long term.
Talk Outside the Office
Limiting contact with venture capital providers to an office setting is a major mistake. You want to show them that they are valuable to you, that you are seeking a genuine, mutually beneficial relationship, rather than just “taking their money and running”.
Take them out for dinner or drinks. Treat them to a sporting event, concert or another out-of-office event. To make this business date even more effective, make detailed arrangements about everything including transportation – bus charter is a great option as you can travel together in comfort and style.This will give you time to have genuine conversations and bond with them over topics other than money or investments. This is also a great networking strategy – adding investors to your social circle is the perfect way to meet other potential business allies or professional mentors.
Lastly, never forget that you are part of what you’re selling. An investor might absolutely love your product but turn down your funding request because you pitched it with torn jeans and uncombed hair. Curating your appearance is a key element in making the best first impression possible.
Invest in yourself before asking others to invest in you. All entrepreneurs should own at least one high-quality formal outfit, such as a suit, which they keep stain- and wrinkle-free at all times. Looking your best is a simple, easily achievable step which can help your pitch stand out among myriads of others.
Never forget – charming prospective investors is a process. You can’t just press a button or swipe a screen and immediately receive the money you need. Investors must be convinced that both your business and you as a person are worth their time and funds.
With a little prep work, attentiveness to detail and, of course, charm, you can deliver the perfect pitch and sell yourself to even the most careful and picky of prospects. Your business ventures will end up fully funded in no time!