Initial Investment – Where to start
It does not matter how good an idea you might have; how brilliant your vision might be or even how good your business plan is until someone agrees with you and says: Yes, I am going to invest. Convincing someone to say Yes is something you cannot do with made up numbers or sketchy plans. Someone says Yes because they like your idea, believe you have the strategic intelligence to move it forward and because they like You (you being an individual or a team). Countless business plans have been created at breakfast tables, desks, offices, but have gone no further as they have never managed to gain that initial early investment.
My company has been extremely fortunate to be successful now in two rounds of investment. I do not use the word lucky deliberately because I know how much hard work my leadership team have put into both rounds of investment. In each situation, we had to ask ourselves one question: What is our business goal? Once you have addressed that, you can then begin to work backwards, working out what you now need in order to move forward. Only when you think strategically can you really start planning in a business format. We worked out that to make our business a reality; we would need to build the basis of two major platforms: the Website and the Application. Only once both of those were complete could we begin to raise some serious capital to launch the business in the direction which we hoped would inevitably result in success.
At the start, our goal was to raise enough money to build our initial pilot website, which would help to prove the concept worked and then allow us to push for round two of investment. At the start, we had plans but no product, plans but no user base, plans but no investment. This did not matter because we had a vision. We knew we needed a set amount of money to get our business rolling, but how can you value something which has not been created yet. The key – do not be too greedy. No one will invest. You must remember you are at the start of your journey, have achieved nothing and that people are giving up valuable hard-earned income to invest in your business venture. Therefore, you must respect and honour that.
There is a very good chance that in your first stages of investment you will typically target your immediate network. It is then not unusual for investment to come from an angel or venture capitalist if you have shown early signs of success. As we look to the future and continue to grow my company, we will be sticking to our tried and tested process: What is our business goal? What do we need? What is a fair valuation now? And, do not be greedy, be fair!
I think people have invested in my company for three reasons: Our plan, our passion and the personalities within my set of Directors. We have proved that despite the difficult economic times if you have the right make-up, the correct character and an idea worth investing in, it will happen. The point I want to make is you need to be prepared for what follows. Money does not grow on trees. Money is hard-earned. When it is entrusted in you, everything changes. It is time to put your plans into reality. To drive your business forward. To begin delivering the results. Every penny seems to become more valuable than the last. You see things from a different perspective. Ultimately, the pressure rises and you must be ready to deliver and meet your shareholders’ expectations. However, if you have the guts to write a plan in the first place, I have no doubt you are the kind of person who would thrive under this new pressure and have the passion and courage to carry on.
Once you have carved out your business plan, done some initial testing, worked out what you need, worked out your valuation, only then can you truly be up and running. It is worth all the hard work when it comes together and someone says Yes to you. It is only at that point though, that the real hard work begins…