Raising startup capital ain't easy. In fact, many entrepreneurs who decide to fundraise say it's the most intimidating and challenging aspect of starting a business. To help you get started, here are seven quick tips on how to raise startup capital:
1. Plan Everything Out
Once you decide to raise money, your first step is to make a plan. It's really important that you clearly outline your plans and goals in your business plan. Bplans.com
is a great resource to help you get started. They have a massive repository of sample business plans that you can download for free.
2. Meet New People
Approximately 4 out of 5 leads will come from networking. Join industry networking groups, schedule informal coffee 'dates' with like minded individuals, and take advantage of social networking websites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
3. Structure The Deal Properly
Early funds don't need to come from venture capitalists. In fact, its far more likely your first investors will be friends, family, and wealthy associates. Therefore, you must structure a deal that is appropriate to your potential investors. Create terms that include how much you want to raise, the investors’ rights, whether the deal is debt or equity, the valuation, and so on. When putting these terms together, if you met the right people in your networking you may already have a lawyer friend who can help - if not, you should consider consulting an attorney.
4. Practice! Practice! Practice!
How do you practice? Ask your friends and coworkers to listen to your pitch and give constructive criticism. The more you practice, the better you will be. You might not have a lot of luck at your first 'pitch,' but as long as you learn from your mistakes, you're moving in the right direction.
5. Work With The Right Investors
As tempting as it might be, don’t accept money from anyone and everyone. If their interests aren’t compatible with your own, you would be better off waiting for the right investor. The right investors are ones who can offer more than just money. They can share their wisdom with you, and help make connections with lawyers, other investors, bankers, financial advisors, even media. Also, make sure they're excited about your startup and enthusiastic about your industry.
6. Be Prepared
When asking other people for money, they will obviously want to see financial documents. Be sure to save everything: receipts, bank statements, equity financing documents, etc. Don’t let any prospective investors wait as you mail them the information. Being able to produce the documents right then and there will show them that you are serious.
7. Don't Forget Your Business
Raising capital will not only take some time, it will also take a lot of effort. But just because you’re putting 50% of your time into fundraising doesn’t mean you should slack off from you other work. You still need to continue building your startup.