What investors are looking for
Investors look into the future to a time when they can cash in, hopefully at a high multiple to their initial investment. Therefore, they are concerned with your growth potential.
- Is there a growing market for your product or service?
- Does it involve breakthrough technology or is it merely a me-too product?
- What would be the exit strategy?
- How much return can investors make on this investment, and when?
Investors typically won’t see an entrepreneur more than once and often will want to listen to you present your business for no more than a couple of minutes.
Prepare a brief, compelling presentation that tells your story, describes your business and explains how you will fulfill a customer want, need or desire. Tell them what you have achieved and why it’s a good idea to invest with you.
What lenders are looking for
Lenders are more concerned with risk and the return of their money with interest. So they look more at revenue, expenses, and other cash flow issues.
Bankers prefer one clear and complete idea over many excellent but vague possibilities. So make sure your presentation is focused and fact-based.
- Is your product priced right for its market niche?
- Can company management control expenses?
- Does the company have the ability to repay its loan and still grow?
- How much are company owners willing to share the risk?
In its risk assessment, a bank will not only look at your ability to execute a project and repay the loan. Your banker will also consider the project itself and ask: “Is this the right decision for this company? Will it contribute to its profitable growth in the years to come?” Therefore, the business plan for the project you want to fund must be clear and succinct.
For more information on borrowing download your free copy of BDC’s eBook How to get a business loan.
Establishing your credibility
If your new business doesn’t have substantial revenue or isn’t generating positive cash flow, it is even more fundamental to demonstrate you are a credible and worthwhile risk.
That means having all the pieces in place—deep market knowledge, a competitive product or service offering, and the self-confidence to overcome the inevitable setbacks.
You will have to demonstrate you have the experience, skills, determination and self-confidence to successfully build your company or carry out the project for which you’re borrowing money. If you don’t believe in yourself, your business and your project, why should others?
Here are some points to keep in mind when you meet investors and bankers to discuss your business plan.
- Use facts and figures—Support every conclusion and claim with research from third-party sources. If you mention trends or evaluate your market potential, make sure you’ve done the research to back your claims.
- Be clear—Your banker or potential investor probably isn’t an expert in your field, so avoid industry jargon, acronyms and technical details.
- Show you’ve done your research—Demonstrate you’ve looked at your project from every angle and prepared contingency plans. Discuss how your previous experience and achievements will help in this case.
- Stick to business—Focus on proving your case. It’s good to be passionate about your business, but it’s your facts and figures that will get you the money.
- Be realistic—Your forecasts should clearly show how your business or project will be profitable for both you and your counterpart. These forecasts must be rational and backed up by solid data. Be careful about making claims that you’ll be the next Google or Amazon.