Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.
I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!
Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.
This Week’s Must-Read:
Who it’s for:
Founders seeking funding to take their company to the next level
Why it’s important:
You have a great business idea. You’ve written a solid business plan. You may have conducted product-market fit testing. You may even be operating on a small scale. Now you’re ready for the next step: funding. You have got to spend money to make money. The Forbes Finance Council, comprised of entrepreneurs who have been there, offer incredibly sound advice for how to do the hard work effectively to win over potential investors.
- Invest Your Own Money First. Save up enough capital to get things rolling on your own. Investors want to see that you’re responsible with their money and that you’ll produce a favorable ROI. As an angel investor, I will not invest in a startup without founder investment. This is a sign that you believe passionately in the idea and are willing to go through the hardship required to build and scale a business.
- Due Your Own Due Diligence. To “wow” potential investors, it’s critical to do your own due diligence. Do a deep dive to learn about the investors, including speaking with other founders in their portfolio.
- Know Your Standard Startup KPIs. There are standard startup key performance indicators that you should be solving for before you ever pitch an investor – they showcase your intimacy with how the business is growing.
- Share Your “Why”. Many investors are investing in the idea and the team rather than on financial projections. They know, for the most part, that your numbers are unverified projections.
- Listen and Learn. Don’t have an answer for everything. Seriously. While it’s essential to be confident and to demonstrate a clear understanding of your company, there’s a ton to learn in the early stages of a business.
- Keep Your Pitch Short. The vast amount of data we have to consume daily makes conciseness a precious value. You have to be able to express your core business idea in three bullets or 60 seconds.
- Build Traction Before You Pitch. No matter how much potential your startup exhibits, you won’t generate real interest by simply having a great idea. Build traction by demonstrating that your business is viable and fits the marketplace.
- Have a Solid Financial Forecast. Creating a solid, granular financial forecast will give you two advantages over other startups: It will enable you to refine your overall strategy by truly understanding your drivers and testing your assumptions. It presents your vision with the most persuasive tool – data.
- Know Your Worth. Before approaching a VC firm, have your company’s pre-money valuation ready. In other words, find out how much your company is worth before approaching an investor.
- Control the Conversation – with Humility. Only talk about thing you fully understand. Acknowledge there is more discussion to be had and be skilled in re-directing to our bigger picture.
- Be Honest and Show Your Grit. Investors want facts. Express your understanding of competitors and defensibility with honest answers.
- Know Your Stuff. Seasoned investors hear pitches all day long and can sniff out who is knowledgeable and confident about their venture versus who is just looking for money.
- Have a Plan for How You’ll Use the Money. Have a complete understanding of how much capital you need and how you intend to use it before engaging investors.
Top Take-Away: Although this list may seem like a tall order because you have been fully and passionately focused on your idea, it is a necessity for securing funding. As an entrepreneur, you have to be a Jack-or-Jill-of All-Trades, and this list provides a solid list of skills and knowledge you must possess in order to pitch successfully.
Additional reading on successful pitching: