Small bites of the big pie – So you are dreaming big and need some money and are puzzled because no one believes in you?
So you want to build an empire and you’ve decided that you need millions to do so, but you don’t have the money. The question to ask yourself is “how do I achieve my dream?”
The first step is convincing people that you know what you are doing. This is the primary reason you write your business plan.
By writing this plan you should show that you know everything about the business. You submit an abbreviated version of your plan to potential financiers, but somewhere you should have all the information — and I mean all.
You also need to be able to pitch sufficient information to potential financiers to grab their interest as well as have a presentation that can engage them in the facts for twenty minutes without boring them. You also need to ensure that you do not “give away the baby with the bathwater” as they could do it cheaper and with less risk without you. Some of the meetings may be seriously rough, as financiers want people who are in it for the long haul so they try and weed out the faint of heart right in the beginning. You have to ask yourself the question: “just how- committed am I?” Here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself, and the questions that investors need realistic answers for.
- How much business can you generate?
- How much turnover can you generate?
- How much Profit can be made?
- What are the start-up costs?
- How soon can you pay any money back?
- What happens if something goes wrong?
- Where and what is the profit center of your business? — the core part that is responsible for making money.
- What is the least amount of money you need to begin trading?
- Why aren’t you trading now? — Could you be doing business from a garage or the boot of your car to prove how passionate you are about this business?
The business case
Not the idea, but the business vehicle where the idea is turned into a functioning business. This is not how passionate you are or how good you are. This is not about your mother thinking you are the best solution to all her problems. This is the crucial nuts and bolts of the business, its workings and day to day running.
- How your business generates profit.
- The turnover you expect and why you think it will generate this amount of money.
- The reasons people will buy from you.
- Where is the real business and where are the opportunities?
- What effort is required to access the opportunities and challenges you will face?
- What do you recommend you need to get done to access the opportunity?
- Where are the benefits to investors if they partner with you.
- What happens if you do nothing?
- When will you start?
- How much money will be needed, how many people will it take, and how much time will be required to deliver this dream of yours and the solution that will realize all of the benefits?
The business – how it will work.
Detailed flowcharts of paper trails and key staffing are required. You need to know job functions and descriptions for all key personnel, as well as the flow of resources, cash and credit in and out of the business, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly for the next five years.
You also need to know “what happens if” and be able to show this scenario in a document that is easy to follow and understand.
So, ask yourself, “what happens if”: 1. I underachieve, 2. I achieve what I set out to do, 3. I overachieve
The key is YOU, and you need to know all of these things as the person who will ultimately take responsibility for the investor’s money. It’s no good to say you will employ a financial person if you don’t understand the financial implications of the business. The money within the business is the key to investor confidence and they want to know it is in good hands.
The buck stops with you. An investor may add supporting staff or guidance in the business as part of the deal, but if you don’t do the ‘time’, you won’t see the ‘shine’.
The big vision
- What is the lowest amount required to begin trading?
- What is the break-even investment to reach a return of income?
- What is in it for the investor?
- Where is his/her money being spent?
- What have you contributed?
- What’s left if YOU fail?
You should have a pencil, a calculator, and a computer spreadsheet. The sooner you learn to use them and understand the numbers game in business the quicker someone will lend you money. If you do not see this as critical in your business you are not serious enough to be a successful entrepreneur. People need to know and see you are prepared to try and have a grasp at what is happening to your dream as it becomes a business.
Entrepreneurs are always on about how no one takes their idea seriously. The reason is that most [around 90% of] entrepreneurs want someone to lift them up on a golden cushion.
They also feel that these same investors should then feed them grapes and finally pay them for the rest of their lives for an idea. The sooner entrepreneurs get over the fact that an idea is not a business, the quicker we can move forward and develop a stronger third economy.
By proving your idea is a viable business, you can convert people to supporting your business. Each time you convert a skeptic to your cause you are closer to your goal. You need to listen to what people say and ask and reply in an articulate and sensible manner. Practice and perfection of your pitch comes with trial and error.
Interested people may wait a year before acknowledging they like your idea just to make sure you are in it for the long haul. These people already have a business and do not want to run yours because you got tired along the way.
Know your stuff
If you are producing something, go to a factory and watch how it’s done. Be aware of technical problems and ask a lot of people questions. This can save millions of silly school fee mistakes further on in the project’s development. People rush in to get going and a little more research would mean many more really good ideas are still around. Rushing is really expensive for a company that has little resources.
Become an armchair expert at everything in your business so people cannot pull the wool over your eyes. Watch time and process and go and see it being done in other places. Ask questions and do not be afraid to look stupid. Any questions are intelligent if they save you money.
Research your products online, and know where they are selling and who they are being sold to.
If you cannot get a ‘feel’ and a ‘handle’ on the business, someone is going to take it from you. I have seen this happen far too often not to have it in the top 3 ‘must do’ lists for successful entrepreneurship.
Do a very critical self-analysis of yourself and stop fooling yourself how clever you are. Be honest about strengths and weaknesses. Ask friends and business colleagues what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Then find ways to shore up this knowledge in yourself first, and then in others you may need on your team.
This is very contentious as people go onto the internet and download pages about how big the market is and how much can be made. The questions to ask are:
- How much of the existing market can you acquire?
- How big is the competition?
- How much business is in your area and with your available resources can you realistically: 1. Get, 2. Service, 3. Grow, 4. Make a profit on
The business landscape
It is highly unlikely that your business idea is so innovative and new that no one else has thought of it yet. However, if in the unlikely event this is true then these following questions are important.
If your product is an innovation or adaptation of an existing need, then you also need to answer them.
Why you? Why will people buy from you and not someone else? If there are leaders and multinationals in this trading space why are they not buying from them first?
Is your price competitive? Have you done your research? If the product is so good do you have advance orders? Who in the market is so impressed with your innovation that they are willing to buy into it immediately with a commitment?
Orders are business tender, so if not, why haven’t you got orders for the product based on the delivery potential of your business? Don’t tell me people are holding their breaths their entire lives for this product and I don’t see a queue of them outside your door.
Legal considerations, product failure, servicing clients. Show me the research and how you intend to overcome these obstacles and deliver on your promises at the same time.
Marketing, how are you going to speak to the people who want your product and at what cost?
Answer these questions in a confident manner and have a track record of sales, or potential sales in your hands and it should be a breeze to get finance. In the current financial depression, the success to failure rate is no different to any other time at 50/50. So you need to prove why it will be different for you and that you will be one of the 20% who may pull it off, against the 80% failure rate in this country.
Originally Published: Tonks, G. (2010) How to Finance Your Dream. SA Guide to Business Opportunities (VOL 8, #2), pp. 10-11. (South Africa)