Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Small Business Financing - It's All About Who You Know

Believe it or not there are plenty of folks out there looking to invest in a small business. Your challenge is to get your business plan in front of them. Easier said than done, right? Actually, if you apply yourself you’ll find that it’s quite easy to build a network of potential investors. First, make sure you have a rock solid business plan ready to go. It makes no sense to seek out investors unless you’re ready to pitch. You might get only one shot and you have to be ready. Here are some tips for building up a network of investors.

1)      Go Online

There is a huge social network waiting for you to explore that is only a few mouse clicks away. LinkedIn is the most obvious choice to start your campaign to connect with potential investors. Here you’ll have a chance to build up a professional profile and find other business professionals who might be able to help. A connection you make on a site like LinkedIn might not be in a position to write you a check but they could connect you to someone who can.

2)      Try Crowdfunding sites

Beyond the direct networking possibilities of social media, there is another burgeoning source of investors you could find online and that would be with group funding. A site like Kickstarter is bringing together pools of small investors who are willing to share their funds with a business that looks promising. Once again, you have to be ready to fire up your business machine and answer any question in a competent matter.

3)      Ask your family and friends

It’s amazing the amount of help we can get from our family and friends if we just ask. You might have a favorite aunt or uncle who is willing to take a shot at investing in your business. As long as you treat them as you would any other potential investment then there is no reason not to present them with a business plan. Just as your online network could help you bridge the gap to meeting potential investors, you might have a friend who works for a company or has their own relationship with a potential investor. Throw a friendly dinner party and make your pitch. Keep it honest and sincere and you’ll reap the benefits.

4)      Network at events

This is a no-brainer. There are plenty of tradeshows geared for entrepreneurs to help them connect with investors. Seek them out but don’t stop at the tradeshow. Follow the money. This means going to places where the “money” would hang out: a country club, museum opening, first night at the opera, polo pony matches… wherever you might think that serious minded business professionals would gather you should try to infiltrate. This doesn’t mean barging in with your stack of business plans ready to hang out. Go make some new friends and see where that takes you.