You probably know all of this already, but here are some refresher tips on how to secure funding for your business:
- Polish your business plan. Re-read the executive summary, management team, competitive edge, and financials. If you’re operating in Internet space in the present market, make sure you are generating traffic and focusing on marketing much more than profits.
- Develop your summaries. Summaries are critical to the Venture Capital process. You don’t send business plans to VCs until they’ve asked for them. Instead, you send summaries to establish interest. Many VCs prefer emails (just a few paragraphs) to faxed or written summaries, so you need to prepare both: a compelling business plan summary to communicate with investors, and a brief but exciting email, one page at most, outlining the growth prospects, type of business, and potential investor payoff. Prepare an investor summary memo, 5-10 pages at most.
- Select VCs carefully. Don’t shop your plan. Instead, research your VCs carefully, looking for deal size, industry, and geographic preferences that match your plan.
- Approach selected VCs correctly. For the VCs whose criteria match your plan, find out how they want you to submit your plan to them. Know whether they prefer email summaries, summary documents, phone calls, or whatever. This is a matter of millions of dollars, so do it right. If you have Liveplan, then you can eventually invite a potential investor to read and comment on your plan on Secureplan.com.
- Make sure you have a good relationship with an experienced attorney. You definitely need the right legal help to make a real deal. Make sure your attorney has been through similar deals; if not, then they should recommend a specialist instead. Investment deals are serious business.
- If you don’t find anything, what’s next?
- The U.S. National Venture Capital Association has an easy-to-use listing of hundreds of VC firms, including web links.
- U.S. Western Association of Venture Capitalists. More than 100 of the better-known mainstream VCs.
- America’s business funding directory. Fill in your profile, and if your plan is interesting, lenders and investors will contact you. Free to the entrepreneurs.
- British Venture Capitalist Association.
- Canadian Venture Capitalist Association.
- Google listing of venture capital firms.