22 Feb 2021 | 10.20 am
Secure Investment To Unlock Business Success
Investment tips from InterTradeIreland's Shane O'Hanlon
22 Feb 2021 | 10.20 am
Shane O’Hanlon (pictured), Funding for Growth Manager at InterTradeIreland, shares some insights to help you secure investment for your business in 2021.
Savvy investors are always on the hunt for opportunities and even in these uncertain times, there are ‘potentially’ plenty to be had. The Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) reported in November that venture capital funding had seen a 41% increase in the third quarter of 2020 despite the impact of Covid-19. It saw funding into Irish businesses reach €192.8m, in comparison with €136.4m in 2019. This followed a record second quarter when funding increased by 58% and a 39% increase in the first nine months of the year.
If securing investment is high on your agenda this year, you will need to show investors what makes you different – and why they should play a part in your success. Whether you’re a start-up company hoping to gain seed capital or a more established company wanting to take your business to the next level, you’ll need to understand what investors are looking for.
Follow the tips below to help you find the right type of investment for your business
Shape up your business plan
The objective of every business plan is to raise money. If you want to convince potential investors that your company is a worthwhile investment then you need to get your business plan right.
First impressions count so you should pay particular attention to the presentation of your business plan. It should be laid out in a clear and precise manner that is easy to follow. Try to focus on your company’s unique selling points – after all, you want to keep the reader’s attention from start to finish.
Ensure the logic, proposals and assumptions are consistent throughout your business plan. Make sure to be open and honest, because if you misrepresent something investors will be able to see through it.
We advise entrepreneurs to use ‘the business cube’, a planning tool for structuring your plan. This is a useful resource for start-up companies as well as more established businesses looking for investment. Your business plan is crucial, so make sure it is up to date and an accurate reflection of what you have to offer.
For start-ups and early stage companies, the Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition is the perfect chance to get ‘investor-ready’. Seedcorn mirrors the real-life investment process. Participants, who are in with a chance to win a share of a €280,000 cash prize fund, can secure expert feedback on their business plans and pitches, improve their investor readiness and gain exposure to investors, all while boosting their firm’s profile.
Equity crowdfunding is a great funding source for high growth potential start-ups and growth stage businesses. Crowdfunding platforms allow companies to raise investment via FCA-regulated online platforms from private investors.
Although the level of investment commitment can be as low as €10, the average funding per campaign in the Crowdfunding segment could amount to c.€14,000 in 2021, according to Statista’s data on Crowdfunding. For early stage companies, accessing capital via these platforms can greatly extend their sources of potential growth capital beyond founders, family, friends, angels and venture capital.
InterTradeIreland’s Equity Crowdfunding Resource provides information to businesses around raising equity capital this way. Some important things to remember are: it’s not as simple as ‘if you build it, they will come’; you’ll need to bring a number of significant committed investors yourself, which may be upwards of 50% of what you plan to raise. In order to do so, you’ll need investment leads beforehand who can generate interest in your platform campaign.
Make sure to get your valuation just right, as most equity crowdfunding platforms will not allow companies to accept investor commitments if they have not hit their fundraising target. Approach crowdfunding with the same level of professionalism as you would with any other campaign. This means having a well thought out PR plan and an experienced account manager.
Perfect your pitch
For both early stage businesses and established companies looking to grow, perfecting your business pitch is crucial. One common mistake when pitching is missing the point of the presentation. For example, if you’re pitching to raise finance, then how will the investor make a return?
Your job as the presenter is to excite the viewer, not educate them. Be careful not to make the common mistake that one pitch fits all; each presentation should be tailored to both your audience and the sale being made. In advance, there are two things you’ll need to focus on: preparation and structure.
Try to plan ahead as much as possible. Decide who will be presenting and if more than one presenter, practice handovers and introductions. Try to research your audience, anticipate the questions they might ask and cover these in the presentation. In terms of time, keep it short, 15 minutes should be long enough.
When it comes to structure, your presentation should have three parts – an introduction, main body of the pitch and a conclusion. Don’t make the mistake of filling your slides full of text, as you want the audience to be listening and concentrating on you. Finally, film yourself presenting, review and practice until it’s perfect.
If you need more advice on perfecting your pitch, you can avail of our Equity Advisory Clinics. Hosted by lead equity advisor Drew O’Sullivan, companies can receive free one-to-one advice on pitch practice, equity investment, fund raising and a review of their business plan.
Locking in investment
Remember there are a wide variety of investors out there. If you’re an established business you may be looking for venture capital, which usually means a greater level of investment. They will almost certainly want to take an active role in the company, so make sure the VC funder is a good fit for your business. In addition, equity crowdfunding is another good option.
If you’re a start-up company looking for seed investment, then angel investors can bring lots of monetary benefit. They may also have a broad range of contacts to help your business succeed. A great chance to meet investors is at InterTradeIreland’s annual Venture Capital Conference, taking place virtually this year. It’s a must for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business angels, investors and anyone with an interest in venture capital.
Before meeting with investors, try and think what your investor wants from the arrangement and keep this in mind. Some may need a quick exit door in order to generate return and others could be there for the long haul.
If your goal is to pass the company on to the next generation, then equity investment may not be for you. If you are prepared to take on an investor, what percentage of the business are you willing to ‘give away’? Is your goal to grow the company, sell it on and start again, or maybe you want to keep the business in its entirety? These are all things you need to consider before searching for investment, as having a solid long-term plan can ensure both you and your investor get the very most from your union.
Looking to the future
2020 brought immense challenges for businesses, but going into 2021 it is important to look to the future. Even during uncertain times, investors are out there, and you can invest in your company’s success by securing funds for your business. Whether it’s perfecting your business plan or deciding which investor is right for you, InterTradeIreland can provide support and advice. Find out more here.