To raise or not to raise capital for startups is a topic that is discussed every so often. However, the big question is not whether startups need to raise funds; it is about when they should raise funds.
Over the past four years, my company, The Soho Loft Media Group, has organized hundreds of events, bringing angel investors and venture capitalists on panels to discuss the kinds of deals they want to see and fund.
Here are some useful tips on raising capital for startups:
1. Pitching your business idea is an ongoing process
As a startup, you are always going to be raising capital. Learning how to pitch successfully is important and pitching as often as possible increases your chances of raising more capital for your business. If you go after capital investment from investors, you are going to be raising more capital for your business venture.
2. Practice your pitch or get someone who is really good at it
To raise money as an entrepreneur, practice your pitch. If you cannot do it well, find a friend who is really good at it to work with you. Go for companies and leaders who have previously raised money because they have an understanding of what it takes to raise money. They also have relationships with investors who trust them.
3. Start off with a newsletter
If you are an entrepreneur who is just starting out, I suggest you start with a newsletter right away and build rapport with investors over time. Though you might not be ready to pitch your business idea to them as yet, using a newsletter will keep them informed about your existence and progress. When you are ready to pitch your project for purposes of raising capital, your newsletters will have done due diligence in furthering your efforts to potential investors for six months, a year or even longer.
4. Share appropriate information and be consistent
The information you put in the newsletter should be appropriate and relevant to the potential investors you seek to partner with. I am currently advising a startup entrepreneur on how to position her business for a year. I want to see how she is handling the business and how she grows it. Investors will want to know how you deal with situations and sharing such information consistently over a period of six months to one year will build their confidence in your business venture. As a result, they will be willing to open up their wallets and give you money, because you have consistently shown them that you deliver on your promises.
5. Have an advisory board
It is extremely important to have an advisory board whose primary goal is to help you raise money. Pick a group of six people who are willing to help you to the best of their abilities in raising funds. Hold meetings with them and help them understand from the onset that you are picking them as your board of advisors. Give them tasks around fundraising that you think are most important to you.
6. Participate in capital events
Another way to improve your skills, besides finding somebody to help you, would be to attend angel and capital events where you can pitch face to face with potential investors. A crucial thing to do is to research the event before you attend to know who exactly you want to meet and who you want to pitch your project to. Also, do the elevator pitch or get someone to pitch for you.
The time to raise capital is now; it is a continuous process that never ends. Raising capital is a strategy that involves nurturing relationships that you already have on an ongoing basis and allowing them to grow to an extent such that you can call them up when you need them.