Entrepreneurs often have many “great” ideas and rely on funding in the form of a business loan or investors to bring their dreams to light. Pitching your business and asking for funding can be an intimidating and grueling process. However if successful the payoffs can be huge. Unfortunately many entrepreneurs aren’t successful in securing the funding they require. Here’s a look at 6 mistakes entrepreneurs make when seeking out funding:
- Over-valuing their firm or product
Ok you’ve got an idea- that’s great, but how much is it worth? If it’s your idea it’s probably priceless to you but how much is your business really worth? People tend to over-value their business in hopes of securing a greater investment but that very often fails. Take an objective stance when valuing your business – look at how much you’ve done in sales, your costs and how much revenue you’re really brining in. Remember sales do not denote firm value. Don’t forget to factor in your production, operational and carrying costs.
- Presentation & pitch is too long
Your elevator pitch and investor presentation should be short and informative. Keep your presentation under 10 slides and make your slides concise with 3-5 points per slide. Your elevator pitch should be about a minute long at most. If you can’t summarize your business in under a minute you may need to spend more time understanding your business. No one wants to be stuck listening to a 20 slide presentation.
- No concept of market size
Whenever you offer a product or service you must be aware of how large or small its market is. Whether it’s a nice or mass market item, every product/service has a market. It’s up to you as an entrepreneur to research your market and determine who your target audience is and how much of a market share you would like to capture. Remember 100% market share isn’t always a viable or profitable goal. Be realistic in your market share goals and understand the size of your market.
- No professional business plan
A well written, factually correct business plan can garner you the funding you require. It’s important not to skimp on your business plan. Don’t rush it, take time to understand the risks, opportunities and profitability of your idea. Make sure you comprehend your product and what it will take to bring your idea to market. Many people overlook the financial aspect of a business plan. Projections can be intimidating so seek out professional help if you require it, never assume always ask.
- Inability to explain what problem their product solves
Ok so you’ve got an idea – great! How can it help me? What problem will it solve? Many times entrepreneurs are unable to explain exactly how their product is useful to consumers. This can be off-putting to investors as they think – if a person can’t even explain their own product then how can they sell it? You must fully understand your product or service and how it benefits consumers. Be prepared to answer questions about your own product and your competitor’s offerings as well. The more informed you are the better.
- No flexibility
When asking for funding you need to be flexible. Remember you’re asking someone else to put their trust and money in you and your business. You may not always get the offer you prefer and in some cases may have to counter offer as well. It’s good to be prepared with at least 3 different counter offers when pitching to investors. You should also be open to different kinds of offers. This doesn’t mean give away your whole company for free but listen to what they have to say and run the numbers before you decide to accept, counter or decline. Most importantly be realistic – have a realistic valuation and seek out the appropriate amount for the share you’re offering.
Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world. She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.