One of the biggest sources of anxiety for entrepreneurs is securing funding. Many entrepreneurs rely on angel investors to support them in a company’s earliest stages and help drive early growth.
Entrepreneurs should think of an angel investor as a strategic relationship rather than just a source of funding. These individuals will often play an active role in the company’s development.
Because relationships with angel investors tend to be long-term, entrepreneurs should ensure that they are on the same page with these funders prior to accepting any money. Some tips for engaging with potential angel investors in a meaningful way include:
1. Do your research.
In general, angel investors tend to focus in particular areas and will often have set investment criteria. Entrepreneurs need to make sure that they approach investors who have experience in their industry and who offer the right size of investment.
Approaching an angel investor with a prospect that does not align with their usual investments will not make a good impression. On the other hand, when entrepreneurs can show that they have done their homework and are familiar with the prior investments of the funder, they can show why they think the fit is right.
Many angel investors are also entrepreneurs and tend to support companies that align with their own industry experience. This lets them be most useful in terms of company growth.
2. Look for an advisor.
When entrepreneurs focus on finding funding, they can miss out on the real value of engaging with an angel investor, which is the advice and guidance that person can provide. Entrepreneurs should not look at the quest for funding as a one-way street. These individuals should also be asking when angel investors can bring to the company and what they see for its future.
Often, the guidance an angel investor provides is even more valuable than the money. This is because their guidance can result in rapid growth that captures the attention of other investors. Ideally, entrepreneurs can find investors who really believe in the business and are excited to show what value they can bring in terms of direction and growth.
3. Tell a good story.
In many ways, telling potential angel investors a story is more important than showing impressive numbers. Numbers can prove that a business is viable. The story is what builds an emotional connection with the company and gets investors excited about becoming involved.
Entrepreneurs need to inspire with their vision and pull individuals in with the narrative. Investors should want to do more than hear what happens next. Instead, they should want to become part of the story, especially one that ends with a significant change in the market. The story is how entrepreneurs get investors to believe in the vision and buy into the movement.
4. Share your exit strategy.
Angel investors do not want to get caught off guard. They also want to see that the entrepreneurs with whom they work have thought about the ultimate goal for the company.
Some entrepreneurs create a business with the ultimate goal of having that company be bought by a larger company. Others may imagine selling the company to another investor. Still others may have the ultimate goal of taking the company public.
Each of these options has different implications for an angel investor, who may or may not have personal expectations for the company and direct experience with one of these exist strategies. While it is important to have a strategy in mind, entrepreneurs should also remain somewhat flexible when talking to a potential investor who may have a different idea.
5. Remain transparent.
One of the most imperative things for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when communicating with potential angel investors is the importance of transparency. Sometimes, entrepreneurs assume that they need to have all the details ironed out and will gloss over issues that have not quite been addressed.
In reality, angel investors do not expect a company to be perfect a lack of perceived challenges can raise suspicions. Even worse is when an investor agrees to support a company and then gets surprised by issues that were buried during initial conversations. Entrepreneurs need to be upfront about debt, struggles, and other issues. In the end, the investor may have some ideas for how to address these problems.
6. Have a business plan.
Angel investors will likely have a lot of ideas for how a company should approach strategic growth. They also want to know that the entrepreneur has thought about this issue. Ultimately, the growth strategy should represent a collaboration between investors and company founders rather than either side dictating what will happen.
A business plan is a great way for entrepreneurs to show that they have done the basic work. It should include executive summary outlining goals, a market analysis with potential markets and competitors accounted for, and revenue projections. This document helps ensure that the angel investor and entrepreneur are on the same page about the future of the company.