All scale-ups need funding. It’s in the name. The intention is to scale up what your company has worked on so far. The decision to seek funding in order to scale up is made at crucial stages in your business’s life and therefore considered and correct decisions need to be made.
This article will provide you with the questions you need to know the answers to before looking for funding and essential tips on the ‘how to’ of scale-up funding.
Are you crystal clear about what you want funding for and exactly how much money you need?
These are the first vital questions you need to know the answer to. While you may have an idea in your head, you still need to translate this into your strategic growth planning that details what you would use the money for and the outcomes you would expect.
If you don’t already have a clear plan for your business you could use the MOST strategy tool. Through this you will be able to:
- Decide on your company’s Mission;
- Pinpoint the Objectives needed to achieve the mission;
- Determine the best Strategies to take to achieve those objectives; and
- Establish the Tactics to put in place to turn your strategy into action.
By creating a plan you will get a clear and focused idea of what you want to achieve and where funding will help you to do that. Getting funding will be an objective, and how you get the funding you need will be part of your strategies and tactics.
Once you know what you need funding for, you can make an informed decision about how much funding is required.
Know your target audience and how to pitch your company to investors
After creating your business plan and deciding on how much funding you need to scale up, you can then begin to make decisions on the investors you intend to target.
For example, if you’re looking to raise £100,000 you may look towards business angels for investment. Whereas if you need £10,000,000 then you wouldn’t go to business angels instead, look at a venture capital or private equity.
If you’re a scale-up looking for a first investment you would likely look at series A funding. If you’re an established longer term company looking for a larger scale-up if then series B or C funding is where to look.
Raising funding is as much a marketing operation as it is a financial operation. Because of this, a good tip would be to take a strategic marketing approach that ‘sells’ your company in the best way possible. The business needs to be an attractive investment with clear growth potential for the investors to get significant returns.
When it comes to marketing for funding it is the same principle as any other form of marketing within your business. What is your message? You need to have a clear and direct message in order to sell your business to potential investors.
At this point, you will need to look at who is in charge of your fundraising. In order to have an effective funding strategy, it is important to have clear role delegation. If there is no obvious internal candidate to be leading the raise then there are some other avenues for you to explore. Here are some external options you could bring in to help with your fundraising operation:
- Board Advisor
- Chief Financial Office (CFO)
- Non Executive Director
- Funding Broker
The advantage of bringing in someone from these fields is that they’ll bring a wealth of experience which will enhance your funding applications.
Have you got your timing right for raising funds?
Timing is another essential aspect of raising funding that your company needs to take into consideration. This will come in during your planning stage as it’ll inform many decisions you make with regard to marketing and applications.
It’s good to have a decent runway in terms of your funding plan. Give yourself enough time to decide upon the right investors, make contact, apply for funding and allow the investors enough time to decide. The process of fundraising is a big commitment and takes more time than you think.
Going back to marketing, it does not reflect well upon your company or make your business appear an attractive prospect if you are asking for funds from an investor that you need immediately. When applying for funding it’s important to showcase to the investor that you, as a company, have done your due diligence in terms of planning and research. This will reinforce that your business is a smart and safe investment.
How to use Networking to your advantage when fundraising
Networking is a hugely important aspect of fundraising. It can be the difference between getting the funds you need and not. It’s an obviously vital aspect in all of the business but perhaps no more than in fundraising.
The first step, once you’ve decided on how much money you need, is to look at and assess fundraising lists. This is a very quick way to whittle down potential investors to those who are most likely to buy into your project.
Once you have decided upon the various investors that you would like to approach, do research into them and their business ventures. Doing your research on investors is important as it shows proactiveness and respect towards them.
The research you will have done will positively affect your efforts when you reach out to them because you will be in a better position to begin a conversation with them from a place of knowledge. Make contact with the investor before you show them everything in terms of your business plan. Develop a relationship that will then enhance your chances when you fully pitch your investment plan.
You have the option to get an in-depth personal assessment of your company and where funding could help your business by completing the FREE finance diagnostic on the Boardroom Advisors website: Take The Finance Diagnostic & Receive Your Personalised Report.
Article written by John Courtney, Founder & CEO of BoardroomAdvisors.co