I’ve been helping entrepreneurs raise capital for about ten years and have raised money for my own business three times.  I also talk a lot to investors.  I have learned that investors are looking for a lot more than a good financial return.  Here is a list of some of the main things investors consider when trying to decide where to park their money:

    • Trustworthy, high-integrity leadership – generally, investors feel a lot more comfortable investing when they sense that the entrepreneurs or fund managers they are entrusting their money with will be responsible stewards
    • Reasonable level of risk – this is very much related to the first one – if investors trust an entrepreneur, they will perceive the risk of the investment to be lower; perceived risk may also be lower when the investor has a direct relationship with the business e.g. as a customer or supplier
    • Transparency – many investors are frustrated with the complexity and opacity of Wall Street investing – they value being able to understand where there money is going and what it is being used for
    • Being part of a community or tribe – when companies treat their investors as more than just a source of funding, but as a supportive, cohesive community, this can create a lot of investor value (I invested in a fund recently that actually provides zero financial return on investment, but gives me access to a community that I love)
    • Being able to tell their friends and acquaintances about the cool thing they invested in – studies have shown that this is a big driver of investor decisions!
    • Values alignment – a majority of investors state in surveys that it is important to them that their investments align with their values
    • Cool perks – invitations to special VIP events, trips, discounts, sample boxes, etc. can add a lot of value for investors – I recently read an article about how much Estee Lauder’s shareholders love to be pampered and get goody bags at the annual shareholder meeting!
    • Low to no fees – many investments involve middlemen and fees – opportunities to invest directly in a company allow investors to avoid those nasty fees

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!

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