Unless you're one of the iron-walleted few, gaining startup capital for your business venture will require the help of investors. But navigating those waters can be a lesson in humility; it also requires a certain amount of knowhow.
Whether you plan on taking a traditional route or a modern approach, understand that startups do everything in the fast lane. Successful business plans must be laser-focused on innovation, growth, and scalability—all looking to become the next Google or Uber. Accordingly, they require quick money-raising techniques, so be creative when you're on the hunt for capital.
Here's how to conquer that dreaded startup task.
If you're truly committed to funding your startup, accept that efforts at finding investors will, more often than not, result in failure. You may have to deliver the same pitch 100 times before you get your first check. That said, you can't deliver the same exact pitch to 100 companies. Do your due diligence and know whom you're pitching to. Just as you need to tailor a resume, make each pitch unique to the person you're selling your idea to.
Some general principles apply to fantastic pitches. Be prepared to wow a potential investor with some extras:
- Use visuals. If you're launching an app or website, use screenshots or prototypes to get their attention.
- Tell a story. Storytelling is all the rage in marketing these days, and if you can frame your product pitch through a problem and solution scenario, you're on the right track.
- Tell the investor what you're specifically doing with the money.
- Don't be afraid to make bold claims (as long as they're true). Startups are rooted in innovation, and you're offering something that's never existed before. So show it! Exclamations like "for the first time ever" may seem over the top, but they'll draw attention.
Network, network, network
Local networking events can be a remarkable way to reach out to potential investors or other business leaders who can give you a referral. If you can, find out who's going to be at your local networking event so you can plan accordingly. If you're strapped for ideas on where to start, try finding an event...
- Through your local Chamber of Commerce. Even if you're not a member, these associations can provide you with valuable leads to events in your area.
- On Meetup and EventBrite. These websites are geared to bringing people together with similar interests. Search for networking events by industry.
- At pitch contests. These are a unique way to secure funds. They have a panel of judges, eligibility rules, and real investors waiting to give you money for your innovation. You've heard of Shark Tank... Same concept.