Finding the right investors to bolster the financial wellbeing of your business is often the only thing a struggling entrepreneur can do to right a sinking ship. Nevertheless, convincing outsiders that your commercial endeavor is worthy of their time, attention, and above all else their money is no easy feat, and many businesses have suffered from bankruptcy while desperately waiting for the right investor to come along and save them.
It’s time to stop waiting for a lifejacket to be thrown to you and to instead start swimming towards the shore. No one is going to save you if you don’t make every effort to save yourself. Here’s how to get proactive and attract the right investors to your business.
Understand what they’re looking for
You can’t possibly hope to lure in potential new investors if you’re unfamiliar with what they’re looking for in an investment. Think of yourself as a fisherman above a vast pond that’s filled with multitudes of fish; some small fish may have a shiny luster, but they’re not worthy of your time and attention. You want to go after the big fish who will keep you well-fed, and for that you need to use the right bait. So, too, will you need the right kind of bait to lure in the right kind of investor who can financially help your business without taking command of your commercial baby.
First and foremost, many investors aren’t necessary looking for prosperous businesses that appear to be stable, as they want something that can be fixed up, optimized, and turned into a more efficient commercial operation than ever before, thereby bolstering the return they enjoy on their investment. This doesn’t mean that these investors are eager to throw their money into shoddy commercial operations that appear to be one mistake away from bankruptcy, but rather that they want a good reason to believe that by investing in your company they’ll help you achieve goals that are otherwise unattainable and earn a tidy profit for themselves along the way.
If you’re going after angel investors, you should be particularly careful, as they can be your saviors in some circumstances but can’t always be expected to pull through and save the day on your behalf. Regardless of whether you’re chasing angel investors or more sober investors looking for sounder operations, you’ll want to rely on a few helpful tricks which can make your business an alluring investment option.
Tidy the place up
One of the first things you’ll need to do is tidy up – literally. A clean, handsome-looking business that appears fresh-faced and ready to take on the world will attract many more investors than a dilapidated operation that’s clearly being run by amateurs who don’t care about the impression they give off. Investors want to know that customers will come running through your door in droves sooner or later, and for that your business needs to be attractive and hospitable in the eyes of prospective consumers. You don’t have to take “tidying up” so literally, either, as tidying up financially and legally is also an important part of wooing over potential investors.
A list of the things you must do before approaching investors includes the fact that you should tidy up your credit for good reason – after all, nobody wants to invest in a business owner who is uncertain of how much money they owe and to whom they owe it. Elsewhere, you should check to ensure that all of your legal ducks are in a row, as having a lawsuit land on your desk unexpectedly can drive many investors away when they’d otherwise be funding a new era of expansion for your business.
You should also consider the digital footprint your business has been leaving behind. If you have atrocious reviews haunting your social media pages, for instance, those looking to invest may see these before they even get a chance to speak to you or see how your operations are internally handled. It’s thus imperative to maintain a positive digital brand for yourself, as having a robust digital presence is the only surefire way to control what people are saying about you and your company on the internet.
Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself
It’s also imperative to understand that some investors will never financially back your business until you reinvent yourself in such a way that you become a tantalizing and irresistible investment option. Your original business plan may have sufficed when it came to getting your company up and running, for instance, but attracting new investors and heading into a new commercial direction will likely entail major rewrites to your business plan and some significant changes to your company culture, to boot. As the business leader, you’ll be primarily responsible for this, as you can’t outsource your company’s vision or internal structure to someone else and hope to remain in control for long.
Even something as simple as reading up on how to update your business plan after a few years can help you attract new investors, as it will demonstrate to them that you’re serious about changing your operations and optimizing your company from the top down. This process of change may entail some uncomfortable adjustments, too, like letting go of lackluster employees who fail to provide results time and time again. It’s never fun to fire an unproductive employee, but you must understand that the health of the business comes first and that investors will never back a sinking ship that’s manned by incompetent sailors.
This is also an ideal time to bring on new managers or outside expertise which could propel your company to new heights. Financing new recruits is never easy, of course, but if you can expect a windfall of money from investors in the near-future than you can be more eager than usual to hire an expensive new employee who will provide critical expertise or helpful new insights which you’ve been lacking to date.
But don’t forget why you got started
Having discussed why it’s so important to give your company a coat of fresh paint before appearing before investors, it’s also important to remember that you can’t lose who you are in the midst of all these changes. Don’t forget why you got started in the first place, as some entrepreneurs who wanted individual autonomy in the commercial arena, say managers of portable storage containers or freelance workers, may find the terms set by some investors to be far too restrictive to abide by. Similarly, reshaping your company to make it more commercially attractive could force you to abandon some of the charm you give off as a nascent and local business. Remember that change is important, but don’t get lost as you try to reinvent yourself to appear more attractive to potential investors. Make important changes, especially when it comes to the company’s overall structure and profitability, but understand that certain cosmetic changes can backfire if you only commit to them in order to lure in new investors. Finally, never give your business over to an investor when you’re not ready to give up control of your operation, as no amount of money is worth your autonomy. Before long, you’ll be attracting the right investors to your business while turning away those lackluster financiers who only want to take advantage of your situation.