Writing for Business Advice, Piers Chead, the founder and CEO of incorporation agency The Formations Company, gives readers six crucial lessons for delivering a successful funding pitch.
A lot of entrepreneurs have great ideas that they want to start rolling, but often they feel that financial restrictions are what prevents this from happening. This has prompted many entrepreneurs in recent times to enter competitions and apply for grants in order to obtain the funding they require to make their ideas a reality. Here is some advice on constructing a successful funding pitch that will stand out among competition and grab the attention of investors.
Advocate and protect your idea
Funding is limited in these schemes and competition is fierce, so it is imperative that you have passion for your idea, and it is what gets you up in the morning – if you don’t, judges will pick up on it, and overlook you.
You cannot expect strangers to back you if you’re unwilling to back yourself. If you’re truly passionate about it, then you will want to protect it too, and there is nothing worse than finding that a competitor has coincidentally had the same idea as you.
The Formations Company can help you to secure your company name; even if you aren’t ready to establish the organisation, you can reserve a name with a dormant company until you are in a position to get the ball rolling.
The concept of your business may not be wildly inventive, but every standout company needs a USP, and there are ways that you can distinguish yourself from the competition. A recent winner of our award, Terence Chung, turns waste produce into cosmetics and toiletries. His idea stood out to the judges for his innovation and environmental consciousness, and they were impressed by his forethought in terms of both business and green credentials.
Consider the ways in which you can present your business idea and make it bold enough to be remembered afterwards.
Don’t be generic
Once you have settled on how to make your business plan stand out from the competition, you have to make sure that your application to the competition or fund doesn’t ruin your potential by coming off as generic.
As you would with a strong job application, it is important to work through it carefully and tailor it to the singular situation. Don’t fall into the trap of reusing old application material either – if it was unsuccessful before, it is not likely to get a warmer response this time around.
Know your business, market and audience
Doing the research is an absolute must if you want to even be considered for a business grant. Having an in-depth understanding of who your customers are, what they require of you in business, the competition you face in your industry and what sets you apart from it, is all very basic information that no business plan should be without. Investors will not even waste their time reading an application that doesn’t provide these basic details, so do your homework and do it properly.
Know your numbers
Although reality TV is somewhat sensationalised, the fates of prospective businesspeople looking for investment without knowing their numbers have been seen many times on shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den.
Startup companies are expensive, and if you care about yours, you will have gone over the figures until you can recite them in your sleep. Numbers are another very basic requirement: without forecasts of turnover and expenses, how is an investor supposed to calculate whether or not yours would be a good investment to make? If accounting is not your strength, there are many free resources for help with getting your numbers in order.
Your application is representative of you, and so you need it to do you justice. Before submitting your application, go over it several times and check that it makes sense, that you’ve included everything required, that it is neatly formatted and that there are no errors in your grammar or spelling.
Take a night or two off and go back to it to critique it with a fresh eye; pass it round a few friends and ask them to annotate anything they think is missing. Make sure you adhere to the guidelines set by the investors and enclose any supporting material they require.
Best of luck with your application.
Piers Chead is the founder and CEO of The Formations Company and has over two decades of experience in the emerging technology arena
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