woman writing on clear board in office
It takes a lot more than a good idea to woo an investor. Following this 10-point checklist will help you define your business idea and land that extra funding. — Getty Images/Marco VDM

As an entrepreneur in the current climate, timing may be on your side. Contrary to popular belief, it's not the worst time to launch a new business. Successful companies like Airbnb, Venmo and Groupon were all founded during the 2008 recession.

However, the one thing that has changed is that investors are more discerning than ever. Your pitch must stand out from the crowd to even be considered. Hit every item on this 10-point checklist, and you could be in the running for a great investment.

[Read more: How Is Pitching Investors Changing After COVID-19?]

1. Create a business plan

Before you consider pitching your idea to investors, complete a comprehensive business plan. A thorough business plan is essential because it will help you define how much money you need. It will ground your expectations, encourage you to problem-solve and position your product or service more accurately. Think long term, accounting for your one, three, and five-year plans. Without a well-executed plan, investors won't bite, no matter how great your idea is.

2. Calculate financial models

Don't underestimate the level of detail required by investors. Think of your financial model as evidence that your business is going to make money. Calculate your projected costs, acquisitions, sales, revenues and profit margins. More importantly, define your growth rates and when you expect to become profitable. These spreadsheets will become the crux of your pitch.

3. Know your market

Market sizing helps establish the potential market share your product could attain within the total market. It can be a challenge for many entrepreneurs looking to prove their potential. Before you pitch your idea, make sure you understand your TAM, SAM, SOM and LAM (starting with what those acronyms stand for). Identify who is likely to purchase your Minimum Viable Product and its growth potential. You need to be able to validate your idea and its trajectory.

4. Define your traction

Traction is evidence that your product or service has started the "hockey-stick" adoption rate. It implies a large market, a valid business model and sustainable growth. Your financial predictions and revenue targets need to be tangible so you can convince investors. Start by defining the market penetration, an average customer acquisition cost and display acceptance from customers and key distributors. Bonus points if you can find statements from industry experts to support your claims.

As an entrepreneur, you're striving to think outside the box, disrupting the world with a unique offering.

5. The big idea

Define your big, beautiful idea. As an entrepreneur, you're striving to think outside the box, disrupting the world with a unique offering. If your concept targets a big market simultaneously solving a genuine problem, you're an investor's dream. Don't be deterred if your product has limited geography — that's ok. Focus on targeting the right investors.

[Read more: 10 Great Elevator Pitch Examples]

6. Do your due diligence

Raising capital is no easy feat; it's something that requires time and plenty of preparation. Before you start your pitch, do some homework on your investors. Why will they be interested in your idea? You want to build a rapport with them, so take the time to study a few facts about them as individuals and impress them with your understanding of their journey.

7. Refine your product

Whether it's an app or a physical prototype, ensure that your product is shown in the best light. Talk about your suppliers, your quality control and your materials. Show investors how you've taken customer feedback and improved on your initial design. Bonus points if you can include a product story around sustainability.

8. Canvas your competitors

Before you embark on anything, conduct a detailed competitive analysis. You'll need to show investors that you have an excellent understanding of the market you're entering. If you're not new to the market, define what your key differentiators are.

9. Highlight your team

Investors want to know that your team is rock solid. Solo entrepreneurs can raise alarm bells; we all know it takes more than a single person to build a company. Focus on building a balanced team with complementary skills. Look for employees or partners with industry experience and diversity — it'll improve your likability.

10. Consider your timing

In this case, timing doesn't refer to the length of the pitch itself but rather when to approach investors for your business. Too early and you'll be labeled a visionary, but the market won't be there yet. Too late, and you'll face well-established competitors and barriers to entry.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Want to read more? Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

Watch Now: CO— Blueprint, 9/23

Check out the video from our CO— Blueprint event that took place Wednesday, September 23, 2020, where the panel discussed everything you need to know about recruiting and managing cohesive teams remotely.



Published July 30, 2020