Raising Capital – There Is Always An Abundance of Capital and A Shortage of Good Ideas Good Ideas Worth Investing In
“There is always plenty of capital for those who can create practical plans for using it” – Napoleon Hill
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Over the years, countless established entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs have come to me in search of capital. They’ve asked for it a variety of ways ranging from, “Dude, I really need some money” to “do you know people that have money?” to “how does somebody go out there and get a small business loan?” to “I have a way for you to make a 30% on your money every month for the rest of your life if you invest in these bottles of Mona Vi.” These are all valid questions, however I recommend that you would never utter the phrase, “dude, I really need some money.” Raising capital has never been a problem for me, and it will never be a problem for you if follow my proven system. If you don’t follow my 7-part system, I can’t help you.
Step 1: Make yourself qualify
In our world of “artificial and politically correct equality” we have a belief everyone has the right to qualify for the loans and capital “they need.” If nothing else, the Great Recession that our country endured under Bush / Obama should have taught everyone that giving loans to “everyone with a pulse” is probably not a good idea. When people have bad credit, it’s usually because they made bad decisions repeatedly until they could no longer service their debt. It doesn’t mean they are a bad person, it just means they are bad at managing money. Would you want a super fat human teaching your aerobics class? “Oh Clay, but that is mean!“ Really? Is that mean, or is that real? Andrew Carnegie once famously wrote, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” His statement ultimately validates my “Making Yourself Qualify” formula. Here it is, “Your Reputation + Practical Education = Level of Compensation (Investment Dollars).” Let’s take a brief second to break that down like a car with an exploding driver-side wheel.
This is a statement of where you are right now financially and personally. If you are financially destitute and you are spiritually & emotionally bankrupt no one will be willing to invest in you. If you are financially destitute, but you are an outstanding person and you have a reputation for showing up early, leaving late, being a person of detail, thrift, uncompromising integrity, energy, enthusiasm, resourcefulness and zeal, you might get the money. If you are a person who person who has been financially successful with the limited resources you have had, and you have a reputation for showing up early, leaving late, being a person of detail, thrift, uncompromising integrity, energy, enthusiasm, resourcefulness and zeal, you will get the money. If you want to raise capital, get to work on yourself right now, because you might not qualify right now on a human or financial level.
Step 2: Your business plan must be explainable to your significant other, to laymen, to investors and to anyone with a functional brain with 30 seconds. From a general and broad vision casting perspective, you must be able to quickly intrigue and peak the interest of a room full of people, with the problem or need your product / service addresses, how you will charge for it, who your potential customers are and how you can prove that there is truly a demand for the product / services you are describing. If you cannot do this, you will not raise capital. You simply cannot have an idea that takes people 1 hour to grasp if you are going to convince them to invest in your business. You must be able to WOW your audience from a topical perspective if you are going to have any chance of winning them over.
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars made detailed models of the ships and vehicles in the movie and he even went as far as hiring an artist to paint a huge background for one of the scenes to convince Hollywood investors that his ideas were truly more than just an artistic whim. He had to convince the Hollywood studios that his plan had been thought out to the point where capital was the final detail he needed. He knew that investors don’t want to have to help you with your business, they just want to provide you with the capital you need so they can make the return on their money they need.
My friend, invest the time in putting together a dynamic presentation that is visually stimulating. Tell a story and wow your audience. If you don’t like public speaking, then you won’t like raising capital. I personally think it is super fun and exhilarating. If you are not a creative person, find someone who is to help you. However, once again, keep it mind, if your ideas do not WOW them within the first 30 seconds then you are done.
Step 3: You must be able to prove all of the assumptions you made with facts. You have probably been on the planet long enough to hear the phrase, “don’t say anything you can’t prove.” This is what I am about here. It is absolutely critical that every claim you make can be supported by a fact that clearly proves the truth and merits of what you are saying. If you are saying something that is not provable, you will not get the investment dollars. You will be laughed at, or you will be called a liar. Bottom line, there is no room for puffery in a business presentation or in life. Be real with yourself and the people you are trying to wow.
Remember most people who “earned” their wealth achieved success through the careful implementation of a strategy and a plan that they had to be smart enough to create. These people are resourceful, smart and sharp as a tack. They are not going to just believe every statement you make. In fact the holes they will openly shoot in your presentation will ultimately help you secure the most. You want them to tell you why it won’t work. Their ideas are worth millions, which is why they have millions to invest. If they poke a hole in your plan, ask them for the best way to fix your “business boat” so that it doesn’t sink. Don’t get bitter. Get better.
Step 4: You must have a detailed pro forma / costing sheet to present to them that clearly explains to them in a detailed, specific, itemized and analytical way where every dollar that will come into your business will go. These sheets normally take me and our team 30 hours to make. They are awful and they seriously make me want to sucker punch a cute baby Koala while simultaneously stapling my forehead. The process of making these is mind numbing and you really need to hire a “numbers guy” to help make this document. You literally must account for every dollar that will come into your business. You must show how every dime will be used. Your investor wants to know that you have factored in for taxes, insurance, random-acts of badness, realistic sales numbers, bad economies, debt-service, credit card payments, labor costs, payroll tax costs, office lease expenses, furniture, infrastructure, moving costs, janitorial expenses, marketing materials, etc…EVERYTHING must be on these sheets!
**For an example of this kind of document visit, www.MakeYourLifeEpic.com and contact us. Request a copy of the “detailed pro forma / costing sheet.”
Step 5: You must possess the “unyielding faith” that John D. Rockefeller always spoke so much about during his time. Rockefeller believed that a person must possess perseverance, unyielding faith and enthusiasm in order to succeed. I agree, and if I didn’t I would listen to him over me anyway. You must go into presentations looking sharp, acting sharp and believing that you will achieve success. You must fake it before you make it. You must have the “fire in your eyes”. Investors must be able to see the determination, the drive and the fight boiling up inside you when they look into your eyes. Investors must feel the integrity flowing through you when they shake your hand. Business moguls and successful entrepreneurs must be inspired by your confidence. You must inspire confidence. If your demeanor and your overall look inspires doubt, you need to work on steps 1 – 4 again. The more details you know, the more confident you will be. You must know your business plan and your business industry better than anyone else. You must feel comfortable with sharing your vision and you must be able to support what you are saying with provable facts.
Step 6: Make sure your investment a true financial “no-brainer” for any potential investor. Make the returns on invested capital so good and so strong and so fair that it really wouldn’t make sense to not invest. Private investors are going to want to make at least a 10% return on their money or they are not going to want to invest in you. If they just put their money in the bank they will at least make a 2% or 3% return on their money. If they invest with you, they do not have the guarantee that their funds will be there (like they think they do at the Bank). When they invest in you, you will introduce considerably more risk into the picture. For this added risk, they will expect a considerably higher return on their money. Remember these INVESTORS ARE NOT EXCITED TO LEND YOU MONEY AND THEY ARE NOT PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR IDEAS, THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT MAKING A RETURN ON THEIR HARD-EARNED MONEY. Make sure that you present your ideas in a way that truly create a WIN for them and a WIN for you. Point out these Wins, time and time again. Don’t fool yourself. These people are not excited about your ideas. They are excited about making lots of money in a passive way by funding your ideas.
Step 7: Stay out of the banks if possible as a start-up. As an entrepreneur you must be able to get things done quickly. Banks specialize in taking a long amount of time to do anything to make sure that every decision is wise decision. Banks want you to share your ideas with the Vice President, the President and with the Board. Banks want you to present, present and present some more. Banks want you to give them a 20% deposit. Banks want you to update them with financials once a month after you get the loan. Banks want you to spend 6 months going through the loan approval process. Procrastination always leads to diminishing motivation and the complete decimation of your situation. You will start out being excited and after spending 7 months with some of these yahoos who have never run a business before you will be so filled with doubt and negativity that might begin to have doubts about what gender you are, what your religious faith is, and whether you should have woken up this year. My friend, nearly all start-ups have been funded by capital raised from family, friends, associates, personal savings, credit cards, home equity lines etc…Just stay out of the bank when trying to startup a business. Nearly all banks are not entrepreneurial.
Once your business has been established and is booming, every bank in town will reach out to you to “come and join them at the local bank, where they treat every customer like family,” etc…Banks want collateral. Banks want to be able guarantee that you will pay them back and 95% of the entrepreneurs I talk with don’t have a way to guarantee this. Most entrepreneurs I know have $10,000 or less and a bunch of drive. They have good credit scores and they come from a modest background and they have been diligent with what they have. They have managed their money well, and they have begun to generate resentment with contentment. They have a skill and they are confident in their abilities to support themselves using their skills. However, they don’t have the collateral in place to secure a loan. My friend, you are not alone, but most banks will make you feel like you are.
John D. Rockefeller went around town trying to secure capital from everyone in Cleveland with a pulse to turn his big ideas into a big business. Sam Walton borrowed money from Helen’s (his wife) family to get Wal-Mart growing. Sam borrowed money from his brother. Sam borrowed money from every human he met with a pulse. This is how a BIG BUSINESS starts. Google was started by Larry and Sergey working out of their dorms at Stanford. They used spare computer parts, all-night hours spent working diligently and eventually capital from an angel investor to get started. I almost do not know of any stories that involve a start-up first going to the bank to secure funding. Most banks only want to lend to proven ideas to help them grow faster. They want to bet on a proven winner. Get scrappy. Get your presentation refined. Get your facts in order. Build your case. Build your pro forma and costing sheets. Get your visual aids built. Then get your capital and getting moving.
**If this process seems over-whelming to you, we can help you, however as you can imagine we are always overrun with requests for this type of business consulting. Everyone needs capital right? If you would like to schedule a time for our team to sit down with you to help you build your case and your fund-raising presentation for you, you should plan on spending around 12 hours with our team. For more information about this visit: http://www.MakeYourLifeEpic.com and then contact us from the site. For more information about great ways to raise venture capital read the autobiography of Sam Walton, “Made In America.”