No matter what your growth strategy or plan is – when it comes to approaching investors, or in fact, lenders of any kind, never ever simply present an idea; instead, you need to present a business. And, when you stop to think about what that means, you soon start to realise that presenting a business involves being able to demonstrate sound business development prospects, existing revenue streams, business longevity – but more importantly, it involves being able to demonstrate a sound operational infrastructure where your team is aligned, your strategy is practiced and focus is obvious.
We give you a few ways to get your house in order before approaching a potential investor.
- Get Organised:
Lenders will inevitably need access to crucial documentation which could include legal documents, contracts, invoices, tax returns, insurance papers and more. You may want to keep hard copies of these documents that you can easily access, and if you prefer to work paperless – identify an easy-to-access filing structure that allows you to get the information your investor needs, at the drop of a hat.
- Define your processes:
We’re not talking about mind-mapping every single step of your customer journey or accounts payable process, we’re talking about something a little more strategic than that. Regardless of what type of industry you’re in, or what you’re trying to achieve in the long-run, the challenges of managing process flow and operations across diverse platforms and systems are universal. Where most companies simply combine tedious manual workflows, creating unnecessary silos within your business counteracts any hope of effective transformation and operational excellence. Break down silos in the effort to create more transparent, open communication – define your short and long term strategies and attain buy-in from every function in your business so that people understand what needs to be done, and are able to deliver against that.
- Know your Numbers:
Many of us, at some point in our lives, experienced or witnessed the cringeworthy moment of being asked a question that we absolutely know we should be able to answer, but simply cannot. Some of us simply don’t respond, others make things up – but whatever your chosen tactic, we hope that it never gets to this point – especially as you prepare to approach investors for funding for your business. As you prepare for a series of presentations that could radically transform your business – make sure you know your stuff. It’s fine to hire an accountant, but when you sit down with your investor – you are the one that will need to understand what the line items on your balance sheet and income statement represent.
- Make sure you have the right team on board:
Sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to take a step back. A quickly growing business is exciting – but growing with the wrong team on board can be more detrimental than desirable. So, while you grow your team – think about your core values and principles. Think about what you want your teams to represent. Think about what your customers would say about those who represent your brand. If the time has come to address some critical risk factors in your employee team, then address them before you head into battle. Make sure you have a passionate team who support your cause, and more importantly, support you through the challenges that organisational change and growth inevitably bring. As a team, you will be tested, and as a team, you want to be able to demonstrate, to both investors and yourself, that you stand tall and that the business is held together through a firm foundation of the right strategy partnered with the right technology, delivered by the right people.
- Look for efficiencies – throw out the waste
It’s all been said. And yes, we’re going to say it again. Because if you’re reading this – chances are, there are more areas to be tightened up in your organisation. So, whether your inefficiencies lies within entire departments, or whether it’s bound to process – addressing these before approaching potential investment is critical. Your processes will be tested which means that inevitably, any lurking inefficiencies waiting to be uncovered will be blown wide open – enough reason why any investor would want to turn around and walk the other way. Get back to the basics – instead of trying to match a job to a person, or a spreadsheet to a process, strip back every process and every deliverable and look at what you’re really trying to achieve. You’ll very quickly discover the areas you need to focus on. Engage your team to become part of the solution and find something that works for you and your business.
- Develop leadership, not management:
Whether you choose to run a business hierarchy, or prefer a latticed approach to managing your organisation, when it comes to being operationally ready for change, it’s going to take a lot more than just your leadership team to buy into new things. And with investment and growth, you and your team are going to be facing a lot of change. You’re going to be expected to be stretched and pushed and you will need to be able to rely on your entire cross-functional team, more than you realised. At some point, they will need to make key decisions and take action that could have implications on the rest of your business. Developing leaders gives engages them with your business strategy, aligns them to your goals, and gets everyone focussed on growth.
CFPro Ventures have extensive operational experience and know what needs to be done to get a business ready for investment and growth. If you need help, either pre, mid or post-investment, talk to us today.