Raising funds in normal circumstances is hard enough as it is. It takes time (a lot of it), patience, resilience, and constant rejections. My first raise took me just over 12 months to find, but at that time I had zero networks, an idea spelled out in an overly long business plan, and a determined attitude.
Raising under Covid is a whole other experience, and a really tough one, so here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far during my quest to find some funds for my own business.
Do you really need investment?
The idea of raising investment is always great and founders always think that raising funds is going to solve all their problems, I thought the same. Who doesn’t want to have funds to spend on accelerating their business and achieving their goal quicker? Its however important to sit down, especially during Covid, and think about whether you firstly: need the money, and secondly: are ‘investment ready’.
If you are already growing and generating revenue, do you need extra funds? It will mean added pressure, external parties involved in decision making, and losing equity. If you can, why not make it on your own! Secondly, are you actually ready? Have you actually proven your concept, done your research, know exactly how every penny is going to be spent and how much it will boost your business? I thought I knew, and my plan was very precise, but I’ve found out that my numbers just aren’t quite high enough to get investors willing to say yes.
Raising under Covid also puts us, founders, in an even more difficult place. Investors are going to want more equity for giving less funds, as we enter into this economic crisis. It’s time to rethink how much investment we actually need, and how much of our company we really want to give away. Best advice: achieve as much as you can whilst cutting costs to a bare minimum and survive until the end of the year, maybe even 2021.
A new mentality amongst Investors
I’ve had a chance to speak with a lot of investors during these last few wobbly months. All advice seems to follow the same pattern: investors now want to take fewer risks.
It seems as though prior to Covid, investors were more willing and open to investing in riskier businesses whilst in the ‘safe’ economic market. Now, it feels like they are going back to basics, which is all about monetisation and ROI (return on investment): What is your business doing now, how can you prove it will grow, and when will this make me money. In difficult economic times, it makes sense for them to lower risk.
It’s made me re-think about what I was trying to show: user growth, and what I should be focusing on now: monetisation.
Timing & Luck
From my first investment round, I’ve found that finding investment relies heavily on timing and luck – which isn’t ideal when you are on a tight schedule! You need to be lucky enough to stumble upon the perfect investor in the right field, at a time that is right for them too. I met one of my current investors 12 months before he decided to invest, it just wasn’t the right time for him when we first met.
I would suggest keeping every investor you meet in the loop about your business progress (always ask them first if it’s okay!). Sending out a monthly email with brief updates will keep them up to date and they may one day feel ready to join your business.
Raising as a Sole Female Founder
It’s no news that Female Founders raise less / are less likely to raise then Male Founders, you just have to read the stats online. When I first started my business, I wasn’t really convinced by the inequality in the start-up world, I really did think everyone was treated the same and everyone had an equal shot. It’s however after some personal experiences that I’ve begun noticing I wasn’t being treated the same by some individuals, which is a little sad to see.
Whatever the reason for it, it doesn’t mean that women can’t raise! There are a lot of great female funds and clubs out there who are very supportive, so if you are a lady, make sure to get involved, even if it’s just for a bit of support.
I’m still going!
I’m still in my quest to find my second round of investment, but I know I will find it. The big question is just where and when. For anyone else looking to raise, keep looking, and seek advice from experts on how to better your business, but most important of all: don’t give up!