You’ve got an amazing business idea, but no money to get it off the ground. Sure, you’ve started, but now you need funds so that you can begin scaling things and actually make them happen. You’re raring to go with an amazing set-up, but you feel like nobody’s paying attention. Sound familiar?
There are so many startups at the moment, and everybody knows the statistics about how often they fail. Investors are being cautious about where exactly they place their bets, hoping that they can find a sure thing.
MAP to success
Before you even start looking for funding, you need to have something to show. If the market has anything to teach us right now, it’s that there are countless ways to succeed, and what works for one business might not help another. But regardless of how you’re looking to get funds, you need something you can show potential investors. That’s where MAP comes in: it’s a way to remember exactly what you need to have in place.
First, you need to be Memorable. You don’t need to have the most unique idea in the world – but you need to present it well. Know your competition, analyse the marketplace, figure out exactly where you fit, and then show potential investors you know exactly what you’re doing. Come up with a jingle or a logo or an elevator pitch which you can use to get yourself noticed. Go to events and talk to people.
Second, you need to be Adaptable. The market is changing all the time, and investors know that. You need to show that you’re willing to consider new ideas and change with the times, rather than sticking to a single concept. This can be part of what makes you Memorable, too.
Third, you need to be Prepared. Even if you need funds to get things off the ground, you need to be ready to go as soon as you get them. You’re going to have to prove yourself every step of the way. Be one step ahead of potential competition for grants and investments by nailing down your preparation.
Where to look
Once you have all of that ready, what do you do next?
- Look local: Get your ears to the ground. Where are other businesses getting their funding from? Sometimes local government offer grants to help small and new businesses, and angel-investor groups often operate on a local level. This is a way to narrow down the competition, too – your business idea might not be unique on the national or international level, but if your city or state doesn’t have anyone like you, then your idea still sounds new and fresh. And if it’s succeeded elsewhere, you can point to those successes to show your idea is viable.
- Crowdfund: Is your idea something people can get passionate about? Does it fit into some kind of niche, fill a need that people have? In that case, you might be able to build up some funds to get you started by going straight to the people who want your product or service. And the best part about this is that people will do your marketing for you if they’re really enthusiastic about what you have to offer.
- Look for venture-capital investors: If you’ve already got your business established and you need something to take you to the next level, this might be the perfect solution. Venture capitalists are professional investors, and they’re usually looking for something that’s already proven itself – a big duck in a small pond. Venture capital could be just what you need to launch you out on the great big ocean. Do your research and look for investors who have funded projects like yours before, and don’t waste your time on VCs who don’t dabble in your sector.
- Partner up: Somewhere out there, there’s a business which could benefit from joining forces with you. You just need to find them. You can offer them an expansion of their services – they can offer you funds. It might mean giving up some control over your business in the end, so you need to negotiate shrewdly and pick the right partner – but the right partner might just solve all your problems.
- Look for a bank loan: It’s a long shot, but if you have anything you can use for collateral and a good credit history, this could be an option. At the very least, it’s worth researching to see what’s on offer – maybe it won’t help you now, but somewhere down the line it might be just the ticket.
- Trade: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. You give me office space for free, and I’ll maintain your IT system. Find someone who needs your product and use them to get the resources you need. This can be a way of creating partnerships that go beyond money.
- Combine tactics: Partner up with someone else and look for a bank loan to boost both your businesses. Crowdfund to get your initial start and then look for venture capital. You might not be able to get everything you need with a modest grant from government, but you can use that as a stepping stone.
- Don’t stop pushing: Be honest with yourself: a big break is rare. Instead, you need to get lots of little breaks. Before you’re done lining up a small loan, you should already be looking for your next source of funding.
It’s a business-eat-business world out there, but funding does exist – if you look hard enough. Don’t be discouraged by a setback or two. You’re going to need the skin of a rhinoceros and the determination of a whole herd of bulls, because you’re going to have to deal with rejections and doubts and people pulling out just when you were relying on them. It’s the people who stay tough and keep going who succeed in the end.