Tag Archives: startup

5 things to know before approaching investors

Starting a business is fun until you need to finance your idea. While it might seem scary to search for financial assistance, but if you’re able to put your idea in front of the right people who believe in your idea, they will assist you in providing the funds you need to build your dream. Before you approach potential investors, you need to understand the role of an investor and exactly what they expect from you and your business idea. Here are a few important tips to take into consideration:

Do a background check on them  

When you approach a specific investor or lender, you need to have a clear understanding of their background. For example, who they’ve worked with before and what type of experience they have in funding businesses. It’s important to know that they are a successful, thriving business and are able to assist you. If you are approaching someone specific in a company, it’s even more important to go the extra mile and learn more about the individual. This will help you to understand the type of person they are, and it will also make the sales pitch easier when you know who you’re speaking to. At the end of the day, you are selling your idea to someone who will hopefully “buy it”. Personalise your approach according to the person on the receiving end, as that will help you to appeal to the investor’s interests. If there are any concerns or issues that might arise during your pitch, having some knowledge on their background will help you to communicate with them on a more personal level about your business.

Look at previous investments of theirs

During your research process, you will learn about the businesses your potential investor has invested in before. This will give you an understanding of the type of business they’re interested in and want to contribute to. For example, you cannot approach someone who invests in security software with your quirky product that can assist with travel automation and queries. You need to align your needs with someone who wants to help businesses like yours grow. Pitching your idea to the wrong person is not going to solve your problem, so make sure that you’re approaching the right investor for your business.

Make sure you’re ready for an investment opportunity

When you learn about your potential investor, you will need to secure a meeting when you are at the right stage in your business. Every private investor or investment business has their own requirements that they favour, and this usually refers to your business’ growth. For example, does your potential investor want to invest in businesses during the seed stage or the early stage development of a business? Many investors want to be able to see an established business whereas others want to invest in the startup idea and help your business grow in the beginning stages. It is not recommended that you approach a company if your business does not fall into their investment interests so be sure to do your research.

Choose according to the investment amount

The next step in your process is finding how much your potential investor or lending company is willing to offer you. This all depends on what you are seeking finance for in your business. For example, if you need to buy equipment and machinery with your funds, you will need to see how much you would qualify for beforehand. Use an online asset finance calculator available to South African businesses to see how much you would qualify for at your preferred lender.

Believe in yourself and your business

The amount you see on the asset finance calculator is not always guaranteed. So, don’t give up on yourself or on your business idea for that matter because of what you see or think you might only be able to qualify for. Do your homework and make sure that you put yourself in front of the right person or company. If you are a first-time finance seeker, this is going to be an overwhelming experience, but practice makes perfect.

Effective cash flow tips for startup owners

Most people struggle to get to grips with their own finances, let alone steer a business and manage that workflow correctly. While starting a business is a challenging task, you are taking a financial risk. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you handle your business’ workflow with its best interests at heart.

Often times, the money you save or lend from a broker is usually not enough to make it through the beginning stages of your startup. However, if you work according to a strict budget, you should be able to restrict yourself from unnecessary expenses that may have a negative impact on your company’s future.

Many people think that budgeting and setting goals aren’t important, but, usually, those are the businesses which end up having to close their doors because they cannot seem to work with their money properly. So, if you want to look after your company’s financial health and guarantee a fruitful future for years to come, here are a few important cash flow tips you need to consider with your small business.

Request payment upfront

When you’re a small business owner, you constantly want to please people and offer support with the hope of a trade exchange in return. This is certainly the wrong approach to have, as people and companies which take advantage of you from the beginning will continue to do so. While networking is an integral part of growing your business, you cannot assist everyone who needs help. This is only going to set you back in hard times. The same goes for your payments structure. Of course, your payment structure will differ from business to business, but you need to request payment on delivery when possible. Do not allow delayed payments and always encourage upfront payments on jobs. This will help you to predict your month’s turnover in advance without relying on people to pay you when they “can”.

Become up to date with your admin needs

When you start a business, you need to dedicate time to your admin needs and always stay on top of what goes in and out of the business. If you need to send a client an invoice, make sure that you send it long in advance without having your customers wait for their invoice. This type of behaviour will lead to customers being just as casual and carefree as you are. Make sure that you also have a penalty system in place for late payments or consistent follow-up messages. When customers know how strict you are about your payment policy, they will respect your needs and adhere to your rules. If you need to outsource your admin needs, or any needs for that matter, to ensure they are done, do so.

Try and limit your free offerings

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, it’s important to offer complimentary demos if, for instance, you’ve met a potential customer or partner at an investment conference. This will spark their initial interest, and hopefully, lead to a business opportunity. However, with regular customers and trade exchanges, you cannot let people take advantage of your free offerings. Try and limit what “free” items you give out to people at your next entrepreneurship conference as these freebies need to benefit your bottom line in the near future. Starting a business is tough because you need to be restrictive in the type of interactions you have. If someone wants to try your product, very well, but make it a once off trade.

Always be accountable for your actions

If you know that you’ve gone overboard with your finances on a particular experience or business asset, you need to be prepared to suffer the consequences. This is why it’s so important to have a budget. In the first year or three, you need to accept that you won’t be able to spoil yourself or the company until you really start making an impact in the market. Always hold yourself accountable for your actions and try your best to spend your money wisely and record every purchase.

Final thoughts

Being a part of an ever-growing and changing tech innovation ecosystem requires resilience and dedication to keep moving forward. If you know that your product or service has tons of potential, work hard at making an impact in the industry. If you’re not earning money, you simply cannot be spending a lot either. Think of many different ways to market your product or seek investor assistance if you really need it. The last thing you want is to find yourself in debt, having to shut the door on your dream.

How to ensure your startup is a success

Every day there are hundreds of thousands of startups which open their doors and hope to succeed. But with a sea of competitive ideas, there’s a differentiating factor between those which fail and those which succeed. It’s always tricky taking a leap of faith, but to succeed, you need to have that “X” factor.

Not every thriving startup is supported by investors. Success is about the habits you develop in your startup to (hopefully) achieve greatness. But either way, whether you’re supported by venture capitalists or not, a successful business takes dedication to keep your business relevant and competitive. It also requires an effort to attend innovation and tech conferences in Africa to see what trends are out there.

Here are a few tips to consider when looking to increase the odds of your startup’s success.

Start with a clear purpose

You constantly need to focus on your goals to ensure that you’re working towards them. Have one core idea, without feeling the need to focus on several areas of your business. This is the quickest way to lose focus of your purpose and forget the reason behind your startup dream. You need to stay committed to one idea and constantly work at bettering it to meet the needs of your customers. If you have a clear understanding of where you’re headed, you will always be able to measure your performance.

Take advantage of different challenges

When most startups open their doors, they tend to have a niche market they want to explore. Usually, you specialise in certain areas that you’re confident in. And you try to keep within those boundaries. While this is the safe way to do business, startup owners need to take advantage of difficult challenges. These are the projects that are going to differentiate you against your competitors. Try not to limit yourself to what you do, without trying to succeed in other areas. If you don’t take the opportunity to develop your skills and grow your business offerings, you’re going to be overtaken by other companies which are willing to test their limits. You need to be open to innovation. After all, you are a startup. People will understand a mistake on something you’re not a professional at far more than if you were a massive corporate company.

Include innovation in your business plan

You need to embrace the latest digital technologies to help improve your business. And you can find out more about this by speaking to influential leaders in the industry or by attending tech startup conferences near you. It’s important to note that successful business owners have a clear understanding of who their customers are and what they want. It’s about being able to identify their pain points and structure your approach to solve those pain points. If you’re able to provide a product or service that really adds value to your customers’ lives, you will constantly be able to build around that foundation. There are so many entrepreneurs in the world with brilliant ideas and expertise. The ones who succeed are the ones who are willing to go out of their comfort zone to try new things and educate themselves about the market.

Build a diverse team

As a startup owner, you need to hire people to assist you. It’s impossible to wear several hats for a long period of time as you will not be able to touch on everything. This may even lead to burnout. So, the beauty with hiring talent in the startup space is the ability to offer people opportunities based on their skills, not necessarily their experience. You are able to mould someone into the ideal employee you want. It’s also important to hire employees out of absolute necessity as you don’t want to over capitalise on your overhead expenses. You also need to focus your energy on hiring diverse employees.

Seek funding where needed

The reality of any startup is that you need capital. You need money to build your business and to keep it afloat. Often times, businesses think that they can keep themselves going as long as possible before they seek funding. But that is usually too late. You need to realise that success doesn’t happen overnight. Most startup companies give themselves two to three years before they see a difference. And, unfortunately, not every company is able to wait that long to see the return on investment (ROI) on their bottom line.

Be patient. Always.

On the back of the previous point, you need to be patient and you need to be motivated by the right things. By this, it means that you need to have a clear understanding of what you want. Of course, every business owner is motivated by money. But think about other motivating factors during this time. For example, your reputation, your idea (and how it’s impacted your customers’ lives) and your growth potential. Focus on the positive, and encourage your team to learn new skills to help make your business more resilient. Visit technology conferences and digital marketing talks where you will learn from other startups. The vision you have for your business is going to take dedication and plenty of hard work.

Perfect your startup pitch with these helpful tips

Depending on the type of entrepreneur that you are, starting and running a business without sufficient capital is a daunting task. If this is the case for you, some or other time, you’re going to need to find an alternative way to fund your idea which may result in a pitch in front of a group of investors. Whether you choose to seek financial help through crowdfunding platforms or by approaching investors, you will need to carefully plan your pitch. The point is to convince people that your idea is worth their time and money.

The idea of a perfect investor pitch is being able to discuss your idea in a limited amount of time. You will need to refine your pitch to ensure that you cut out all of the unnecessary information and focus on what really matters to the audience. Here are a few ideas to consider when preparing your investor pitch:

  • Learn to master your one-liner

To own a business, you need to be passionate about your idea. You need to be able to explain your entire business model and concept in one line that concludes your business’s mission. It might not come easy at first, but having some sort of idea will make your pitching experience easier and more valuable. You need to hook someone from the very beginning, so be sure to sit down and think about how to make the most of your brand and advertise it in one powerful line. In this process, try to avoid using too many buzzwords.

  • Understand your audience

Whether you are speaking to one individual or a group of people, you will need to be able to adjust your pitch to suit the audience. If you are pitching to a group of investors, research each individual to give yourself a clear idea of who they are and what they’re looking to gain from this experience.

Most people will be impressed by your knowledge if you do so. And having some background knowledge of each individual will also help you put together a few questions that might prove necessary after your pitch. If you are speaking to a crowdfunding audience, you will need to simplify your pitch to make your idea understandable to the average Joe who might not (completely) understand your industry’s jargon.

  • Practice makes perfect

One of the most important tasks to do when preparing for your pitch is to practice regularly. Practice alone, in front of your team, to a mentor or to a friend. Once you’ve created your pitch, consider how long it will take you to get your point across. If it takes 10 PowerPoint slides and a six-minute speech, you’ve lost your audience. Avoid using big words, and opt for phrases and words that you use on a daily basis.

Once you’ve perfected your pitch alone, make sure you speak to an audience. The reason for this is that your loved ones, friends or team members will be able to be honest with you about your pitch and give you the friendly criticism you need to improve it. When you’re finished, ask them questions about it. For example, whether it made sense, if it’s easy to understand or unique, and if it’s missing anything.

  • Use figures and pictures

If you spend the majority of your pitching time talking, you could bore your audience. Take the time to structure your presentation to include both talking and imagery to backup your facts. On-screen visuals and numbers will help to maintain the audience’s attention, as well as keep them interested. Try to tell a story if you can, by keeping things interesting and conversational. You need to show that you are truly confident in your idea when trying to persuade influential people to invest in your startup.

Final words

Startup funding takes plenty of time and effort to attain. With so many incredible, and similar, ideas out there, you need to be able to show investment companies why your startup is so unique. While you might be one of the more introverted entrepreneurs who aren’t confident behind the mic, you will need to learn how to master your own pitching technique to successfully win over the hearts of the people you need to support you. During the early stages of your startup, before you look at crowdfunding platforms or investor opportunities, make it your mission to connect with influential leaders in the industry who can help you. Professional advice is always needed, so be sure to seek guidance and support wherever you go.

Financing your startup like a pro

 

Anyone who has ever ventured into the world of startups knows that financing can be one of the biggest hurdles. Whether your plan is to bootstrap, finance yourself or take out a loan, it’s certain that you will risk major money problems if the business does not perform as expected.

 

It’s expected that all business ventures will carry some risk. But there are many ways to mitigate this risk by limiting taking on massive debt. It’s important that you carry out extensive market research, for example, to ensure you identify possible setbacks. It’s also possible to limit your expenses in the early years by renting equipment rather than buying until your business is stable. And this is when you can apply for plant and machinery finance. At some point, whether it’s sooner or later, you will have to go out on a limb.

 

Where to begin

 

At the beginning stages of launching your startup, it’s important that you have a clear-cut business plan. This should provide you with all of the insight you need to estimate how much capital you’ll need. It might be better to overestimate how much you’ll need. This’ll allow you to have enough cash on hand to cover all unexpected expenses and maintain a positive cash flow. This is especially important in the early months and can help you really get your business started on a solid footing.

 

Once you have estimated and calculated that initial figure, your options will soon become more clear. Do you think it’s possible to attract some investors by networking and attending conferences in your field? Are you comfortable reporting to them about growth and profits every month, quarter and year? Investors will be entitled to have a say in the business of your business. Sometimes, this is when clashes occur.

 

If this sounds like something you’re uncomfortable with, more traditional forms of financing might be your best option. The good news is that, as long you have good credit and your business plan is sound, a bank or registered credit provider will be able to offer financial assistance. Securing finance in this way means you’ll have more freedom when making decisions. On the other hand, you’ll have full responsibility for your debts and ensuring they’re paid back.

 

The basics of starting a business using loans

 

It’s important when thinking about your business financing to ensure all debts are incurred in the name of your business. It may be tempting to use your personal credit card every once in awhile, but it’s essential that you don’t stray down this dangerous road.

Even so, using any form of credit card, whether it’s yours or the business’s, means the lines are blurred between the money you actually have available for your use. You might not think it’s important to differentiate but your credit card limit may be more than the amount of money you need. And this means it could be very easy to abandon your carefully-planned budget and business plan. To ensure you stick to your plan, it’s important that you stick to only spending your initial capital and wait until you begin to turn a profit before spending on extras.

 

It might happen that your initial capital in insufficient

 

The first step is to cut down on your expenses. That means no more client lunches or staff drinks. Once you’ve cut down on your spending, you might find it’s time to speak to your bank.

 

Once you’re back on track, it might very well be time to purchase that equipment you’ve been renting. Whatever form of financing you’ve opted for to start your business, your success will be largely determined by your ability to plan, adapt to obstacles and remain on track during challenging times.