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Investors

Small Business: how to attract investors

Investors

Making your small business attractive to investors requires thorough preparation, a great plan, a winning pitch and a habit to think win-win.

Whether it’s a loan from a high street bank, an angel investor or through an online crowdfunding platform, securing some investment in your small business allows you to take that leap forward, develop new products and/or services, expand your market and increase sales.

In this article, our small business accountants look specifically at how you can make your small business attractive to investors, allowing them to invest in your company and help you grow your business.

Preparation is key

In the wise words of Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”. In this instance, before even looking for investment, take a moment to examine every aspect of your business and understand the accounts. The reason is simple – if you have a realistic understanding of your business and the marketplace, you will have a healthy dose of confidence and enthusiasm, which in turn will allow potential investors to see that there is potential in your business.

Write a great business plan

At the heart of many successful businesses is a clear, detailed, well-written and well-researched business plan. The main objective of the business plan is to help you prioritise – the plan gives you direction, maps out strategies and helps you to manage challenges along the way. Coincidentally, your business plan can also help you get additional funding that will fuel business growth.

To attract investors, your business plan should clearly set out the unique selling points of your brand/product, provide a thorough analysis of your business SWOTs (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and of your competitors. It should clearly outline your operating costs, provide realistic sales and profit projections, and the marketing strategies you will use to achieve them.

Know your numbers

Sound financial management is a critical aspect of running a business. Financial data aren’t just a bunch of random numbers – they can tell you when is the best time to purchase inventory, how to set an optimal price structure, and where savings can be made, among others.

Become fluent in discussing your turnover, gross profit margin, operating costs and projected sales figures. If you aren’t a numbers person, call upon a professional small business accountant like our team at Tax Agility. We can help to review and analyse the numbers, giving you an accurate picture of the financial performance of your company. By reviewing data, we can also give you a clear understanding of how much capital you may need from the investors and how the investment arrangement might work.

Call your trusted small business accountants today on 020 8108 0090.

Have a winning pitch

When it comes to a winning pitch, it is wise to have a few versions tailored for different audiences. Have a short 60-second pitch that sums up what your company does and its ambitions. Craft a version that highlights why you are different and what problems your business is helping to solve. You can also include some financial numbers and positive feedback from your customers in another version. Take your time to develop the different versions and craft them over time.

Pitching is a real skill and it takes time to master. Practise whenever you can, and use feedback to hone your pitch to perfection. When you can deliver your pitch confidently, fluently and naturally to the right audience, you are already halfway to success.

Think win-win

Be clear on what you need from an investor. Money is essential but ideally, you also want to gain from the experience and connections of your investor. You want to learn from them, get the right advice and be introduced to the right people for the next stage of business growth. If your exit strategy is planned many years from now, you need an investor who is committed to working with you for the long haul too.

On the other hand, be clear on the benefits to your investors too. It stands to reason that any investor looking for a sound financial return will want some assurances on the benefits they can expect and when. But investors have other reasons to say “yes”. They may invest in a project because it is interesting, challenging, something exciting for them to be a part of. They may also be looking to broaden or deepen their investment portfolio in particular industries or markets. So step into their shoes and understand what makes them tick.

Funding options

Most companies acquire additional funding through debt financing or equity financing.

A debt-style financing option means you borrow money and pay it back with interest. The advantages of this type of financing include:

  • There are quite a few reputable lenders out there and some may consider your loan without collateral if your company’s financial track records are sound.
  • The interest rates can be low, especially if you seek out government-backed schemes.
  • Interest paid on business loans is a deductible expense.
  • Unlike equity financing, debt financing means you retain ownership of your company.

Debt financing does have its limitations and they include:

  • Lenders do not lend you money on the basis of a great idea. They want to see good track records.
  • They may ask for collateral or want you to guarantee the loan personally. This means you are putting your personal asset at risk.
  • Paying off loans is easy when your business is profitable, but challenging when the business hits a rough patch.

Equity financing means the investors will gain a share of your business – if this is on the table, talk to one of our small business accountants about the legal and financial implications of equity financing first.

The advantages of equity financing include:

  • There is no need to make any ongoing repayment. Instead, you can now channel the money to spur growth.
  • Your investors tend to have valuable experience and connections, which in turn will help your business further.

The disadvantages of equity financing include:

  • You don’t have full control of your company now. You will be sharing all profits and potential advantages with your investors.
  • Disagreements may break out. Sometimes bad personal relationships can overshadow a company’s performance.

If you’d like to know more about different types of funding, follow the link to The complete guide to business funding.

Finding investors

If you’re serious about business funding, you should actively seek out angel investors, put your pitch on a crowdfunding site, or talk to your bank manager. You may also want to convince your friends and relatives to loan you money and help your business expand – but be careful as mixing business with your personal life can lead to conflicts. It may be worth seeking legal advice and drafting a contract to help minimise any ill-feeling should things not go to plan.

You could also try a warm approach like talking to friends at networking sessions or a cold approach such as talking to strangers at industry conventions. The idea that someone may know someone who can help is sound, but don’t assume that it is guaranteed.

Choose your investors carefully

It is tempting to strike a deal with the first person you meet with an open wallet. But when securing investment in your business, it pays to be discerning. Striking a deal with the right people and on the right terms can create a mutually-beneficial relationship supporting the sustainable growth of your business. Working with the wrong investors however, could create unnecessary stress and stifle potential opportunities.

Welcome diversity

Consider attracting a broader range of investors to your business to open up exciting and valuable opportunities. Your team of investors will bring a more diverse breadth of knowledge and experience to the table, helping you better navigate new markets and grow your business.

It’s more than the money

Raising the capital you need to develop your business is, of course, the key reason to seek investors. But your investors can be so much more than a source of cash. They may have considerable experience, business skills, industry knowledge, and valuable wisdom and contacts. Keen to see your business thrive, investors can act as an effective business consultancy service. They may come with expertise in specific fields such as marketing, finance, strategy, logistics or law. They can help you make inroads into new markets.

Your investors can also act as valuable mentors: providing advice, encouraging you and keeping you going when you want to give up. An ideal investor genuinely cares about your business, they will be happy to invest themselves in your success, not just their money.

It isn’t just about the business, it’s about you too

While you need to convince your investors that your business plan is sound and your numbers add up, beware that most investors are investing in you and they are interested in who you are and how you work. So here three tips which can help to foster a promising relationship with your investors.

Be accessible

Reassure investors that you run a tight ship and that their valuable investment is in a safe pair of hands. Answer the phone when they call and respond to their email enquiries promptly. Never appear evasive. Communicate with clarity, honesty and professionalism at all times to help build their trust in you.

Be honest

Any investor worth their salt is primed to detect the tiniest whiff of hogwash. If you are tempted to tell a few fibs to make your company look more promising than it is, you will get found out, damaging the trust that you may never get back.

So present an honest picture of your business and what you can deliver. Be open about any potential obstacles or threats you perceive and have a strategy to deal with them.

Be a leader

Investors are shrewd business leaders who know how to stay focus by delegating tasks they aren’t good at to people who can do them better. If you are the person who insists on doing everything yourself, sooner or later you will push yourself to breaking point. Learn to lead by delegating tasks and engage at the right level.

Tax Agility can help your small business

At Tax Agility, our team of chartered accountants based in Putney, Richmond and Central London have been helping small business owners. We are here to make sure your accounts are accurate, profitability is maximised, and growth opportunities are identified.

When it comes to attracting investors for your small business, there are many ways which we can help. For instance, we can help you to prepare realistic forecasts and answer any questions they may have pertaining to the numbers. We can also recommend best practices that help your company run efficiently and in compliance with the authority.

If an equity financing is on the table, we will work with you to value your business (so you know what you’re swapping in exchange for funding), along with legal and financial implications you may face.

Call us today on 020 8108 0090. Alternatively, use our online form to arrange a complimentary, no-obligation meeting.

This blog is a general summary. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance.

 

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