How to Find Investors
Startups are in a constant competition to attract capital to their business. Without capital, a business will struggle to quickly get off the ground. Whether it comes in the form of debt, equity, or revenue, capital is a necessity for building a business. If you are looking to raise venture capital, you can read our guide on “how to find investors” below.
How to Find Investors
One of the first questions on a startup owner's mind is how to find investors. Angel investors, grants, venture capital: all of it goes towards making sure that your business can grow and thrive. Finding funding is one of the most pressing concerns for a startup, especially a new company. And it can be difficult to know where to start.
How to find investors to start a business will vary depending on the type of business you have, as well as the type of funding you're looking to procure. You may need to change your strategies depending on your industry, the size of your business, and your business model. There are certain types of funding that are more useful depending on the type of business you're in.
Yet regardless of the type of business you have, there are specific things that your business will need to do to ready itself to procure investors. To find investors, you'll need to have a clear and concise business plan, in addition to current financials. Your financial statements will need to be accurate and timely, as you have to show that your company is stable.
Further, you'll need a comprehensive business plan — you need to show your investors how you're going to be using their money, and what you envision the future of your company to be. Be prepared to answer many in-depth questions regarding your business, in addition to negotiating on your company's behalf.
Finding investors is often a combination of relentless networking, marketing, and brand awareness. As a startup owner, you need to be able to prove yourself — and differentiate yourself from the others. With the right investors, you won't just get funding: you'll also get valuable and specialized expertise. All of this is incredibly important to your new venture.
But keep in mind that investment capital doesn't come from nowhere. Often, you may need to trade part of your business, or you may need to promise a specific interest rate.
Before you even begin looking for investors, you should know the current valuation of your business, as well as how much you're willing to pay for your investment capital. Do you want investors who are going to be instrumental in growing your business? Or do you want a silent partner, who will provide funding in exchange for interest, but will not have any input?
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How to Find Angel Investors
How do you find angel investors? They may be closer than you think. Angel investors are usually your very first investors, and many of them come from your family and friends. An angel investor is simply an individual who has money to invest: they invest it directly through you. Often, angel investors are available even when you can't get venture capital or a traditional bank loan.
Angel investors have numerous advantages. They are less likely to have strict requirements. They are more likely to loan you affordable money — either at low interest rates, or for a small share in your business. While traditional investors often require that you have a proven business model and financial statements to match, angel investors simply need to believe in your business.
When courting investors from family and friends, you're working with those who already know you best. These are individuals who know that you're trustworthy, that you are confident and capable, and that you have a solid business idea on your hands. Rather than having to prove yourself through business proposals and raw numbers, you can instead bank on their familiarity with yourself as an entrepreneur.
If there are no prospective investors in your immediate family or friend group, you can begin networking with those you know. By letting the people you're close to know that you're in need of funding, you may be able to connect with a friend-of-a-friend or a more distant family member. This is an opportunity not only for you but for them. If you truly believe in your business, then you know that you'll be able to pay the money back and more.
And an angel investor doesn't necessarily need to be someone you know. There are networks of angel investors online who are specifically looking for opportunities, though they may be more difficult to court than someone you have a prior existing relationship with. An angel investors network will connect you to a broad spectrum of investors, often who specialize in different types of business.
If you cannot find angel investors, you may need to instead turn to venture capital or a bank. But this is going to take a lot more work. You may need to fund your business yourself until you can prove that it has revenue-generating potential, or you may need to grow slowly as you prove yourself capable of dealing with conventional credit lines and debt.
Angel investors are by far the easiest way to aggressively grow your business, and they should be courted whenever possible. But because it relies upon knowing someone who has the cash to invest — or at least finding someone through someone you know — it can be a challenge.
How to Find Small Business Grants
If you're unable to find an angel investor, a small business grant may be a better solution. Small business grants are grants awarded to small business owners in specific locations, industries, or of particular demographics. These grants are intended to encourage the health of small businesses: a successful small business is often foundational to a local economy's strength.
Most small business grants have fairly specific restrictions. There are grants for rural businesses, technology-focused businesses, and innovative businesses. A business must often write a grant proposal which outlines why the business needs the grant, why they are worthy of the grant, and what they will do with the grant money. This is very much like a proposal for a loan.
However, as long as the small business meets the terms of the grants, it doesn't need to pay the grant money back: the grant money is gifted to the business to help it grow. Grant proposal writing is a fairly niche specialization, so many businesses (especially startups) may want to hire a grant writer to complete their proposal. There's no limit to the number of grants a business can apply for; small business owners may want to apply for as many as they feel qualified for.