As I have written before, investors are risk managers and are very careful and selective in what companies they make investments. Now that you have a list of investors that you are contacting for your company, you need to prepare to answer their tough questions. Investors will want to know why they should invest in your company. It can be very difficult to convince them if you dont have everything ready. Furthermore, you need to have to answer the three major questions that are mentioned below correctly. This is not easy to do and I highly recommend hiring legal counsel and accountants to get all the legalities and numbers correct before you begin to meet with your investor.
How much capital do you need and where will it go? This is the question that when answered right is the million dollar question. Investors want to see how the money they invest will be spent. You must convince the investor that your management can manage the money that is invested correctly and efficiently to generate the revenue and profits that the investor is looking to get from his investments in your company. The point is clear. He wants to see numbers. This is why I highly recommend you hire an accountant who can manage the money properly. You also need to have a plan laid out with milestones that are set which the investor has to agree with and you need to give an approximate time when each of these milestones that are to be met.
Once an investor finds that all the answers to the three questions are correct, he will give you your investment in a series of tranches. Each tranche will be given on some set conditions, which are all set to meet each of the agreed upon milestones. This is why you need to be good with your numbers, and your accountant should be competent in budgeting the money. With every tranche, you need to have a percentage for employee and staff salaries (which also includes the salaries of all the management), product development, real estate, etc. If your numbers are not right or realistic, you will not get funded.
What is the forecasted valuation of your company? This is a question where realistic numbers and projections really count. A companys valuation is basically the projected value that a company can gain in the future as it functions in its relevant market. Though investors love to see high figures, its not wise to hype up your figures and have a higher than realistic numbers. Investors can see right through that. For example, your relevant market may be a multibillion dollar market, your company will not be worth billions of dollars, at least not for a while, unless your product or service meets a demand that has not been met. This case, however, is rare. You could make a few million dollars, but your company will not have the same value as the entire market, thats impossible. So how can you get the right answers for this question?
When you are preparing your companys valuation data, you need to have projections that are as accurate as possible and you need to be prepared for how to answer the investor when he asks if your profits drop below ten percent. This is very important, because investors have their market analysts who constantly analyze markets and are always on top of the latest market news and forecast the future based on current market trends. You need to do the same and you should have people who can analyze the markets just as effectively as the investor does. You need to be able to see eye to eye with the investor. Being well prepared for this question can give you the biggest chance of winning that funding.
How do you plan to exit? What do you mean by exit? Well, investors like to invest in a company for a certain period of time, say between five to seven years and then they want to exit and collect their profits. This is why you need to prepare an exit strategy. There are all kinds of exit strategies available, but even though they are needed, you should think more about building a valuable company than having an exit strategy. Investors can see the difference between an entrepreneur who wants to found a company simply for the sake of building a modest company and then selling it and an entrepreneur who wants to have a serious company and wants to be with this company for the long haul. This type of entrepreneur is more valuable to the investor, because a company that generates value and equity will provide greater profit for the investor and make the investor more interested in funding this entrepreneur. Furthermore, a company that generates value over time can also require less liquidation because the profits can be so big that there will be enough pie for everyone, both the investor and the entrepreneur. After all, an entrepreneur starts a company to have something for himself first. Investors are there to help the entrepreneur and to gain a profit from their investment from the entrepreneurs company. Investors have the same thing in common with entrepreneurs, that they both want to make money, the difference is that investors after a particular time period, will want to exit the company through some of the following strategies.
IPO or also known as an initial public offering is when a company prepares to go out to be publicly traded in the stock market. This can be a rather tricky exit strategy because there is a certain kind of capital involved in executing this strategy. When a company prepares for an IPO, it will need to get a special financing known as mezzanine financing.
Management Buyout is another common exit strategy that companies can liquidate. This exit strategy is when the management of two companies work together with the ultimate goal of the management of one company first gaining control of the other company by working with the management of that company and eventually buying that company out.
Leveraged Buyout is an exit strategy where the company is also bought out by another company, but in this case, the buyout is leveraged by the buying company from company debts and other financial deficits.
Whatever the exit strategy you want to go for, you need to keep in mind that your company should first and foremost generate value. That should be your first objective, and how the market goes and how your company manages in the market should determine your outcome.