Meeting your potential investor for the first time is no small task to handle. This is a pivotal moment in your life, and you have a lot riding on the impression that you make. You want to see your business grow and take off, and you’re counting on this investor to make it happen for you.
It can be easy to let your emotions get the better of you when it comes to such a crucial meeting, but you shouldn’t. Don’t be nervous, be prepared.
1. Your Business Plan
It doesn’t matter how incredible your pitch is if your investor can’t see all the numbers on paper. The more comprehensive your business plan is, the higher the likelihood that an investor will want to work with you.
There’s always risk on an investor’s side when he or she decides to give money to a company, even if the idea is objectively too good to fail. Your business plan gives the investor a thorough look at what he or she is getting into, making the ordeal seem and feel less risky and making you appear more competent.
2. An Analysis of Your Competitors
What are your competitors doing? Are they coming out with a new product or service? Have they been expanding? Are they popping up all over job boards during a huge recruiting cycle? You need to know, and you need to be able to tell your investor. If your competitor has recently gained major traction, you need to start your business with a plan to immediately counter them. No investor wants to give their money to a business that will quickly be swept away, and you need to have a battleplan to handle that.
3. A Realistic Valuation
If you’re offering up equity for an investment, your valuation needs to be realistic. If your business hasn’t made any money yet, it can be hard to come up with a realistic valuation. Project your revenue very modestly – always plan for a bad first year. It’s better to exceed expectations than it is to fail to meet the basics. Whatever you do, don’t accept a valuation that seems far more than you believe you’re worth. If you need to raise more money at a lower valuation (called a down round), you’re going to find it very hard to please the people who have invested in your business.
4. Your Key Team Members
Unless you’re entirely alone, you want your investor to meet the people who are helping you launch your business. Everyone who plays a major role should come to the meeting. You want everyone to make a great impression so that the investor knows his or her money is in capable hands. Set up a comfortable roundtable meeting with some water and healthy snacks, and give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and describe their role within the company. If the investor finds that he or she likes all of you, a deal is more likely to take place. Great teams win, and the most experienced investors understand that.
5. Your Confidence
If you don’t convey that you believe in yourself, an investor isn’t going to believe in you. Being too modest or seeming unsure will raise a red flag for a potential investor. This person wants to know that you are capable and fully committed to making your business a success, even if you need some help along the way. Practice your talking points, wear something that’s both well tailored and comfortable, and learn all the things you need to learn in order to feel secure in your business knowledge.
If things don’t go as planned at your first investor meeting, write yourself a list of takeaways, focus on what you can be doing better, and change your approach at the next meeting. Every obstacle is a learning experience.
Evie Cooper is a Project Manager and a Team Leader, currently working as a part of the team behind UKAreaCode and Postcode-Checker – online business knowledge libraries. With over 7 years of experience, Evie has learnt a lot about starting and growing a successful business, and often shares her tips online. Freel free to visit her at @CooperEviee.