A report by the Kauffman Foundation in 2014 revealed that only 67.2 percent of entrepreneurs start a business using personal savings. The rest depend on external funding such as venture capitalists, angel investors, friends, grants, business acquaintances, and other sources of capital. The same report indicates that about 40 percent of startups depend on loans from banks and other lenders. And more than 20 percent of these access funding through online platforms. Economic and financial experts forecast that the numbers will continue to increase, and soon investors will not even need to meet entrepreneurs physically. The online space, could be the next big thing, as far as funding a business is concerned. How you utilize your online presence and space can play a critical role in getting you what you need for your idea of business to move to the next level.
1. Get Traction
While this may sound like a layman’s opinion, it does work. People will be more attracted to your success or growth story than a plea to buy into your “baby” idea. Start with savings and funds from friends and family, and grow your idea to a level where you are convinced expansion is an absolute need. The justification for growth include having more orders than you can meet, having personnel whose brilliant skills your business in unable to utilize, or foreseeing a solid opportunity that compliments and benefits your business. Because the online space is overcrowded, you need an outstanding story for your case to stand out. People will easily buy into a success story than just a good new idea. Think in the sequence of implementation followed by investment, as opposed to investment then implementation. Hard and smart work will always earn you attention in the business world.
2. Go Big
Big and incredibly thorough ideas, compel people to share them. Make your idea sound big and exciting to initiate a conversation around it. A little controversy will also earn you the attention you need at this point. Be careful to stay within safe boundaries. The fastest way to get written off is to have ideas that suggest racial, religion or gender bias, among other sensitive issues. Headlines are ridiculously important when you want to go big. Get an influential blogger to write a review about your product or service. The plan is to have a big idea, present it in a big way, and attract a big crowd into the discussion.
3. Subscribe to Online Databases
The more visible you are online, the easier it will be for investors to notice you. Most investors have way too many options to start digging up ideas and viable business opportunities. Enter your idea into a searchable database. One good example is Global Impact Investing Rating System or GIIRS for existing social entrepreneurs, which will analyze your business’ social and environmental performance, rate it against your peers, and enter you into their database. It may cost you money for some of the organizations to analyze, rate your business and add it to their database, but the systems guarantee you visibility by their member investors. Search online for databases available in your country or region. Region-specific sites include Venture Giant in the United Kingdom and Africube in Africa, among others.
4. Start a Blog
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. A blog is a great and practical way to exhibit your expertise on a subject or idea. It is also a good way to attract people that would be looking to invest in your industry of interest. If you are creating a new product, record video clips of what your invention can do, post them on popular platforms such as YouTube, and link them back to your website. Investors are more bound to invest in an idea whose owner has a professional grasp of their product. Also, outstanding results are the loudest way to speak to investors, and you need to work out a way to make your progress and evidence visible.
5. Utilize Your Executive Summary
You are definitely on the right track, if you can draft an award-winning business plan, but the secret to having people go through it to the end, lies in the summary. You cannot afford to underestimate the power of an outstanding executive summary when dealing with investors. Most investors are busy and only have a few minutes to browse through thousands of proposals and business plans online. You have to be sure that if an investor accords you two of his minutes, you create an impression that keeps them interested in the rest of your plan. A first-rate executive summary will attract traffic to your plan, and the bigger the pool, the higher your chances of landing a deal.
6. Differentiate Your Presentations
If you get it right, going visual guarantees your presentation attention. The most common types of business plans are written. While this is the best method to present as much information about your idea as possible, you need to throw in unique ideas. Design an eye-catching PowerPoint presentation and use unique diagrams or drawings to explain your product. Create SlideShare and infographic presentations. You can even try animation as long as you are careful to remain professional.
7. Mention Cash Generation
What most investors see, when they visit a site hosting business ideas are one-line descriptions of the ideas. You have very few words to introduce your brainchild. Unless you are running a non-profitable project, every investor is interested in how fast your idea can get into revenue. While some phrases such as “earn your money back in months” can attract attention to your business plan or website, they can make your idea sound like a fraudulent scheme. Ensure to mention a guarantee for returns but in an executive way. A good example is “absolute commitment to returns in a specified time.” Work with statements that attract the investors to your financial sections where you have a chance to explain in detail how you will guarantee returns.
8. Promote Yourself Offline
If you have a website for your existing business or idea, you can use offline avenues to market it. Focus on platforms where investors interact with often, such as a business daily in your city, financial magazines and newsletters. Distribute business cards with your website link to probable investors. If you are already making and giving away samples of your products, note your need for investors on the labels. You can put posters on community billboards if you are looking for local investors and the idea fits that kind of a platform.
Finding finances for your business is one of the most daunting hurdles that will stand between you and success. Umpteen business ideas will go unnoticed and fail before one finds committed investors. For example, according to Forbes Magazine, Merci Fund Management, a UK-based venture capital fund, estimates that they receive more than 50 fully-designed business ideas each month, but they only fund between 10 and 15 per year. In fact, the probability of a new business getting venture capital in the United States is a mere 0.0005 percent. A unique idea and an even more unique way of putting it across are paramount for you to get people to at least read your plan. A spectacular presentation after that draws you a notch closer to having an investor trust you with their money. Keep polishing the best you and your idea until the relevant people can no longer ignore you.
Can you think of any other ways to get noticed online by investors? Let us know in the comments section below.