How to get your fundraising done quickly so you can move on with your life

How to get your fundraising done quickly so you can move on with your life

Here is an exercise we recommend in order to make sure you get your fundraising done within a reasonable amount of time.

1. Imagine you have reached your fundraising goal. You are looking at the list of all your investors and how much each one invested.  What is the lowest amount that someone invested and what is the highest amount?  Try to create a clear picture in your mind of your investor list and the amounts invested.

2. In your imagination, scan the list and estimate what the average investment size per investor is. For example, you may picture that you’ll have some people come in at $5,000, some at $10,000, a few at $25,000, maybe one or two at $50,000, and one at $100,000.  In that case, you may estimate the average per investor to be $20,000.  You can use this tool to decide how much you’ll ask for from each potential investor: http://www.jennykassan.com/blog/7-steps-for-making-the-big-ask/

3. Now, take the total amount you want to raise and divide it by the average per investor. That will tell you the approximate number of investors you’ll have when you reach your goal.  So, if you want to raise $400,000, you’ll end up with around 20 investors.

4. Multiply that number by 10. That is the approximate number of potential investors you’ll need to talk to about your offering.  (This assumes that an average of one out of ten people you talk to will say yes—you may do much better than that, but it’s best to be conservative).  In our example, this would be 200.

5. Divide that number by the number of weeks you would like to devote to reaching your funding goal. This is the number of people you will contact per week about investing.  So, if you’d like to reach your goal within six months, divide 200 by 26 weeks—you need to contact 7-8 people per week.

6. Assume that for each contact you’ll need to spend 30-60 minutes on average. Multiply the number of people you’ll talk to per week by the average number of minutes you think each contact will take.  That is the total number of hours you should schedule into your calendar for contacting potential investors.  Add at least half that many hours to give yourself time to follow up with people who haven’t yet given you a definitive answer.  In the example above, I would assume eight hours per week plus another four for follow up—so a total of 12 hours per week should be spent contacting potential investors.

7. Now block out that time in your calendar for the number of weeks you gave yourself to reach your goal.

If you use this method, you’ll keep your momentum going and get that fundraising done before you know it!

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

As a thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my ebook entitled Get the Right Money from the Right Investors.

  • Email

Investor Management 101

Investor Management 101

I advise my clients to be open to having a larger number of smaller investors rather than one or two big ones.  Why? There are two reasons: (1) it’s easier to reach your fundraising goal when you allow lower minimums per investor and (2) when each investor puts in a relatively small amount, it is very unlikely that any of them will try to micromanage or bug you with constant requests for information.  Because they have put in an amount that is not ‘make or break’ for their financial situation, they are far too busy to worry about your day-to-day decisions.

I have raised money four times from hundreds of investors, and I have never had a single one become demanding or irritating.  On the contrary, all of my investors have been patient, supportive, and tolerant when things haven’t gone quite as planned.  

What do you need to have in place to take care of your investors and meet your financial obligations to them?

  1. A professionally managed accounting system that allows you to track your investors
  2. A process to ensure that you have up to date contact information for your investors including W-9s so you can report to the IRS the payments you make to them
  3. A system for providing regular updates—a quarterly email newsletter works great
  4. A process for making payments to your investors in accordance with your agreement with them—this often involves sending an annual dividend or loan repayment to each investor, via check, ACH, or wire.

Of course, the more investors you have, the more time and effort may be involved in maintaining these systems and processes.  I recently sent out about 140 checks to investors and am now trying to track down those who haven’t cashed their checks yet.

Don’t let the thought of these obligations deter you from raising money!  Depending on how you design your offering, most of the effort happens just once a year or even less frequently.  And the benefit of having supportive investors—who have no interest in telling you how to run your business—far outweighs the relatively small effort needed to treat them well and pay them for the use of their money.

If you would like to get my eyes on your particular situation, please apply for a strategy session, and we’ll reach out if it’s a fit.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

As a thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my ebook entitled Get the Right Money from the Right Investors.

  • Email

7 Steps for Making the Big Ask

7 Steps for Making the Big Ask

So, you have your investment offering ready, and you’re preparing to go out and start talking to investors.  One of the biggest questions I get from my clients is how do I know how much to ask for when I talk to a potential investor?  Here is a system you can use to get ready to make the right-sized ask.

  1. Decide on your ideal number of investors which will depend on the legal compliance strategy you’ve chosen.  If you’re doing a private offering, there may be legal limits on how many investors you can have.  Typically with a private offering, you would not have more than 25 investors. If you’re doing a public offering, you may end up with 100 or more investors.  Don’t be afraid of having “too many” investors—a larger number of small investors makes it easier to reach your goal without having to give up control.
  2. Take your total target raise and divide it by your ideal number of investors.  So, for example, if you want to raise $500,000 and your ideal number of investors is 25, the average amount per investor is $20,000.
  3. Now, (at least) double the number you arrived at in Step 2.
  4. Picture yourself meeting with a specific person you plan to ask for investment and imagine asking for the amount you calculated in Step 3.  What thoughts come up? Do you find yourself thinking, “Oh my gosh! That is way too much—they will never go for that?” If so, good! You are in what Dia Bondi of AskLikeanAuctioneer.com calls the Zone of Freaking Out (ZOFO).  If the number you’re asking for doesn’t freak you out, increase it until you feel freaked out. When your inner voice tells you you can’t possibly ask for that amount, you know you have arrived at the right number!
  5. Decide on the minimum investment you will accept—in the example above, maybe your minimum is $10,000.
  6. When you’re in a meeting with a potential investor, make your ask and then be quiet.  Give your potential investors time to think. Do not say anything—wait for a response.  If they say no, you can reduce your ask (in small increments) down to the minimum you decided on.
  7. Know that you should not make an ask that does not put you in the Zone of Freaking Out.  Then practice increasing the amount that puts you in the ZOFO. The first time I raised money, I freaked out over asking for $1,000.  Now I freak out over asking for $100,000. The more you practice asking for an amount that you think you can’t possibly ask for, the more you will learn that it is actually possible!

We would love to help you with your big ask.  Click here to schedule a strategy session now!

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

As a thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my ebook entitled Get the Right Money from the Right Investors.

  • Email

FAQ:  How can I get funded without giving up too much of my business?

FAQ: How can I get funded without giving up too much of my business?

In a recent virtual training, I asked participants to submit their top questions about raising funding from investors.  Below is one of the most commonly asked questions.

How can I get funded without giving up too much of my business?

Many business owners think that if they raise money from investors, they will have to give up a big chunk of ownership and maybe even control of their company.

This is a myth! It is absolutely possible to raise money from investors without giving up any ownership at all or giving up an ownership percentage that you feel comfortable with.

The reason this is possible is that the return on the investment you offer does not have to be tied to ownership of your company. If the only way an investor can ever get any return is via the sale of your company, then yes, investors will want as big a chunk of ownership as possible. But there are lots of other ways for investors to get paid.

The key is to carefully design your investment offering so that it fits with your goals, values, and plans. If you need help designing your offering, please sign up for a complementary financing strategy session. 

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

As a thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my ebook entitled Get the Right Money from the Right Investors.

  • Email

Is the VC model perpetuating the racial wealth gap?

Is the VC model perpetuating the racial wealth gap?

You may have heard the shocking statistics about venture capital investments in businesses founded by Blacks and Latinos.  “Less than 1% [of venture-backed companies] have a black founder; same for Latinx. A mere 0.2 percent of venture deals go to black female founders; in fact, only 26 black female founders have raised over $1 million in outside capital…ever. The average amount of venture capital to black female founders is only $36,000 compared to the overall average of $1.3 million invested.” (Herrling, S., “Women-Led Startups Aren’t Getting Funded, and There’s a Very Simple Reason WhyInc. Magazine, June 2018)

Undercapitalization of businesses owned by people of color exacerbates the racial wealth gap.  While a small group of venture capitalists and venture-backed founders—a huge percentage of whom are white, male, and privileged—become increasingly wealthy, the vast majority of small business owners struggle to keep their doors open and deplete their personal savings (if any) in the process.  Some will make it, but many will fail due to the lack of sufficient capital.

The median net worth of Black and Latino families stands at just $11,000 and $14,000, respectively—a fraction of the $134,000 owned by the median White family.  Even more disturbing is that when consumer durable goods such as automobiles, electronics and furniture are subtracted, median wealth for Black and Latino families drops to $1,700 and $2,000, respectively, compared to $116,800 for White households. (Asante-Muhammad, Collins, Hoxie, & Nieves, “The Road to Zero WealthProsperity Now, September 2017)

What is the best way to solve this problem?  Many suggest that we just need to diversify the venture capital industry.  Add people of color, stir, and somehow inequality will start to disappear.

But what if the venture capital model itself is all about perpetuating inequality, regardless of the race of the participants in it?  The venture capital model provides investment opportunities only to the very wealthy.  Once a company receives venture investment, it is expected to grow as fast as possible so that it can have an “exit” (i.e. get bought by a larger company).  The vast majority of venture-backed companies don’t make it to an exit and they go out of business, often leaving employees and suppliers in the lurch.  (Estrada, L, “Munchery:  How a venture-backed startup swindled a group of women and minority owned companies out of over $50,000 and is getting away with itMedium, January 2019)

If there is a “successful” exit, it makes the wealthy investors even wealthier, and the benefits don’t trickle down to the lower paid employees, much less to the customers or communities that supported the business in its early days.

Rather than try to diversify a system that by its very design concentrates wealth in fewer and fewer hands, why not focus our energy on alternatives that have the potential to bring greater wealth to the many and not just the few?

Let’s focus on strategies that make it possible for EVERYONE to invest in the businesses they believe in and care about.  And let’s design those investments so that investors can get paid without there having to be a unicorn-style exit.

If you would like to join the movement to democratize small business investing, please join us at www.AngelsofMainStreet.com.  If you’re an entrepreneur who would like to raise capital outside of the venture capital model, please sign up for a strategy session to learn about how this type of funding could fit your business.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

As a thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, you will receive a free copy of my ebook entitled Get the Right Money from the Right Investors.

  • Email