Make them love you: How to talk up your startup to investors

Research shows that five out of seven new small businesses in South Africa fail within the first year, all the more reason you need to be on your game, all the time, to make sure that your business is the one of the 30% that succeeds. Being able to charm potential investors to share the same vision for your new business, means you’ve already won half the battle.
Investing, as the popular saying goes, is a fine balance between greed and fear. To entice investors you need to minimise their fears and instead, create excitement about the lucrative opportunity that your venture will bring. You have one chance to make a first impression so make that meeting count.

Investors want the confidence that you will be working harder than anyone else

Social entrepreneur Lesley Williams is the founder and managing director of Impact Hub in Johannesburg – a co-working space that connects entrepreneurs by giving them a space to exchange ideas.

  • See also: Impact Hub: A home for Joburg’s brightest entrepreneurs

As someone who works to educate, guide and invest in entrepreneurs, Williams knows a thing or two about what it takes to for entrepreneurs to take an idea and transform it into a business, with the very necessary help from investors. She shares her essential tips for winning investors over:

  • Know your product/service intimately: It’s your baby. You may not know how your child will eventually grow up, but show up as a knowing, protective parent that won’t just give it to anyone.
  • Tell your story: Without going overboard, share the narrative of where the idea comes from. Don’t be ashamed if it’s a personal story, it will fuel the passion with which you tell it.
  • Show confidence: Investors want the confidence that you will be working harder than anyone else. What commitment and sweat have you put in before asking for money?
  • Be realistic: They also want to know how they’ll get their money back. Have projections but don’t fake certainty unless you have contracted clients awaiting delivery.
  • Be authentic: I once received investment without showing my financials because an investor related to my values when I spoke at a conference. Consider how you show up with every interaction you come across. Be authentic.
  •  See also: Raizcorp’s Allon Raiz’s tips for preparing a killer pitch
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