How to build a business that other people want to invest in
Winning the attention of external investors is the dream of many small business owners. In a way, it feels like a vindication of the many risks that the entrepreneur has taken to start the company in the first place.
And beginning to think like an external investor is actually also a very useful process for small business owners to go through. What would they see as the strengths of your business? Where are the weaknesses? See this an opportunity to be really honest about the company you’re running, and to take an objective view.
Attracting investment isn’t easy – so what are the best ways to go about making it more likely? Here are a few thoughts.
1. Have a very clear vision of what you want to achieve
Every successful business starts with a vision. But for it to truly work, it needs to inspire other people to join you, to work for you, and to take risks on behalf of the business to try and achieve your dreams.
And of course, one of the biggest risks that anyone can take is to put their own money into your organisation. To do this, they will want to be very clear about what it will be used for, and most importantly how it will help to take you a few steps closer to achieving your business goals.
2. Build an attractive, productive culture
This should – all being well – grow naturally out of that first step of forming a clear vision for your company. The people who join your business should all have a shared enthusiasm for what you are trying to do there, and will bring something of themselves to the organisation too.
What does this have to do with attracting investors? Well, if you’re attracting the right team, and building a solid, consistent culture based on an inspiring overarching vision, then you are well on your way. Investors should also be attracted – if your vision is compelling enough – and will want to contribute in their own way.
3. Understand how what you can do can be scaled up – and then learn to sell that idea
The focus here is to be able to demonstrate that what your business is doing now is making a real difference to your industry – but that this is only the start. The key to getting other people excited enough to want to invest their money in your business is to show how this can grow.
‘Potential’ is a notoriously vague term, and no serious investor will put their money into your business on potential alone. So, you’ll need to show external investors how – with their help – your business can grow to become something truly inspirational and transformative.
It is about showing them that the opportunity is there to be taken, with the data to back it up – and also being able to explain in a compelling way how they can share in that future success.
Finally, remember that growth and investment isn’t just about money. Different people will bring all sorts of things to your business. It might be a million dollars in hard cash, or it might simply be raw enthusiasm, sound advice or the voice of decades of industry experience.
Whatever investment people are willing to make in you, recognise it for its own value.
Jürg Widmer Probst