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Fundraising is a crucial piece to any successful business plan, but landing investors is often a challenge, especially in today’s very competitive fundraising landscape. While investments can be game-changing at any point of a business, raising capital is particularly important for startups, as it opens doors for your brand to get up and running. Capital allows for product development, team expansion, marketing efforts and even direct mentorship and counseling.
When cash flow is tight, it affects every aspect of your business, from your team members to your mindset. A lack of capital throttles creativity and innovation, and an abundance propels it. However, it’s important to consider the type of investors you want to attract for your business.
Starting from day one at Cloud Paper, we knew that every business decision, employee, partner and ultimately investor would need to be fully aligned with our mission. They would not just vaguely support our cause, but wholeheartedly buy into the movement we’re working to build. Building our support with this level of integrity inspires commitment and enthusiasm from our network of supporters.
To build the capital you require, it is incredibly important to understand how to find and engage with the right investors and what to look for when it comes to your particular brand needs.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re starting your journey on the fundraising circuit.
Root your pitch in your mission and overall impact
When the foundation of your fundraising comes from the heart of your mission, you will attract the right investors off the bat. Lead with the full dream — the overall impact you hope to accomplish, and why your business is poised to achieve that mission.
If an investor doesn’t have the same values or dreams as you, they are unlikely to be a reliable and valuable investor for your brand. While it can be difficult to turn down capital as a startup, you will be better suited focusing your time with investors who are energized by your vision.
Determine how involved you want your investors to be
For us, it was important to find investors who could help ideate and create alongside us. While it sounds wonderful to be handed a blank check and never bothered again, it’s important to recognize that investors aren’t defined by their checkbook alone.
Finding investors with business talents who can offer consultation and guidance can be even more valuable than capital. In addition, they are likely to have a network of people and resources that can open many doors — whether that is even more investors or avenues for strategies around development or marketing.
Determine what assets your business could benefit from the most, then do the work to pursue those talents.
Do your research
You should have a thorough understanding of who your potential investors are before you pitch them. Check out their interests and values. Look for answers to the following questions to determine if they might be a good fit:
- Where have they invested their money before? What does that tell you about their values and interests?
- Do they prefer active or passive involvement? How much involvement are you interested in?
- Does this investor have preferred industries for investment? Do they usually operate in a certain geographical area? Does your business fit those categories?
- What stage is your business in, and what investment amount are you seeking? Is this consistent with their prior investments?
Some investors prefer to be involved from the beginning, whereas others are more interested in investing as a company begins to scale. You don’t want to waste time and energy attempting to convince the latter to invest in your brand new startup.
Tap your network
Chances are, some of your best investors will come from your network. Investment involves a deep level of trust, and it’s easier to trust someone who you know, or at least trust a referral from someone you know.
If you can’t think of anyone personally who would be ready to make an investment in your brand, think about who you know who could refer you to someone. The difference in success rate between cold leads and warm leads is tremendous, so this is not a step to skip. Really put your efforts into researching your network, then ask for introductions.
If all else fails, continue to hone your brand and mission
At the end of the day, you will struggle to find investors if you have an ambiguous business plan and direction. Get clear about your brand positioning and your mission. Be earnest about what you hope to accomplish and why you’re uniquely positioned to succeed.
Take the actions outlined in this article and you will find that right-fit investors are not so hard to come by.