You’ve put in the hard work and bootstrapped your business. Now what? Next comes the big task of raising outside capital. Meeting with investors and persuading them to see your shared vision in your business is a critical step and the question many young entrepreneurs ask me is, “what do I need to make it happen?” It all starts with three essential documents.
An Executive Summary
First, you can’t meet with investors without an executive summary. This is a one-page document that addresses the most important elements of your business. In your executive summary, you should answer these eight questions:
1. Who are you and what is your business?
2. What market do you serve?
3. What problem are you solving?
4. How will you solve that problem?
5. Who is the competition and what are they doing?
6. How will you generate revenue?
7. What are your expenses?
8. Who is your team?
More often than not, people tell me that they need more than a page to answer all these questions. But you don’t. Regardless of what your business is, if you can’t explain it in one page or less, then you don’t understand it and, as a result, neither will anyone else. Keep your executive summary succinct and confident. No potential investor is going to read something that is several pages long. They want the meat of your business and your proposal. Take the time to trim away the fat.
In the end, no matter how convincing your executive summary is, every investor needs to understand the financials of a business. Create a basic set of financial projections and, like your executive summary, keep it to a single page. Your projections should show investors that you have a good understanding of how income expenses will work in your business, as well as how you intend to generate cash.
Finally, you need a PowerPoint presentation. This is the presentation that you will give to an investor when you finally sit down in front of them or share online via email. Like your executive summary, this is your opportunity to share the most important details of your business within a limited time frame. From experience, I’ve learned that the best presentations reflect the executive summary. Share the same aspects because, in the end, that’s what an investor wants to know about your business. Try to keep the presentation short. If you’re wondering how long exactly, I always recommend following 10/20 rule. For every half an hour that you believe you’re going to have with an investor, spend 10 minutes talking about your business and sharing your presentation, and the following 20 minutes getting feedback and answering questions. By doing so, you can respond immediately and tailor your pitch based on the way the investor sees what you presented. Every investor is different and one may be more concerned or interested in one element than another. Use their questions and feedback to your advantage.
With your executive summary, financial projections, and presentation in hand, you are ready to meet with investors and continue onto the next step of your business journey.