Finance Your Small Business: So Much Money, So Little Time
$37.4 million funded from venture capital today. $86.4 million funded yesterday. $51.4 million funded the day before.
These numbers are not made up. They are actual numbers from actual reported venture capital funding. I get these notices emailed to me day after day, rain or shine.
I'm not personally looking for business financing ? but the entrepreneurs who read my website are. These numbers are a constant reminder to me that companies ? lots of companies ? are getting funded every day.
And these numbers just reflect the reported venture capital funding. There is probably double that amount from angel investment and unreported fundings, and millions more from the $16 billion pool that SBA has this year.
All in all, it's a lot of money. That's a lot of companies and banks and groups and individuals actively investing in small business.
So how come you're still looking for financing?
Perhaps you aren't presenting your company effectively.
Or perhaps you haven't located the right lender.
It's also possible that your concept just isn't very good, but I doubt that. The fact that you are reading this article means you are a serious entrepreneur, with a serious business.
So where do you go to find all these investors? Here are some starting points:
For standard business financing, talk with the local office of the Small Business Administration. It's a new agency, with new programs and services, and lots of money to lend. Although much of the focus of the SBA is on minority business enterprises, the SBA still has a lot to offer non-minority companies.
Also talk with your local banks. (That was plural "banks", not "bank".) Talking with a number of local bankers will rapidly bring into focus the wide ranging priorities of the various banks, and where your company fit in.
As for venture capital and angel investors, there are several options.
One option is to go to online sources. There are a number of online services, such as VFinance, that sell the names and addresses of possible investors. It's not expensive, perhaps $2-5 per name. The idea is that once you get the list of 200 or 2,000 names in hand that you will contact each with a written executive summary or business plan, and then wait to hear from one of them. This is a very passive approach, roughly akin to throwing paint on the wall and hoping that something will stick. If you are like most entrepreneurs, patience is not your strong suit, so sitting and waiting for a response is not quite your cup of tea.
Another option is to go to one of the many directories of venture capital firms. These directories typically include addresses, phone numbers and emails, along with the geographical areas of interest and the types of investment that each is seeking. Most businesses can narrow down their list of prospective investors to several hundred venture capital firms this way. And again you are faced with the prospect of sending out written material for each one, and waiting for a response.
A third option is to take a more proactive approach. Identify your best prospects yourself from a number of reliable sources. Get introductions where possible. Learn everything you can about your target investors, and then go after it. Typically a phone call is the first contact, not an anonymous executive summary. Knowing that you are calling your best prospects, you know too that they are open to hearing from you. You have names, you have investment histories, you have everything in hand to make a real connection with the target investors. Then go do it.
Getting your company financed is one of the hardest things you will ever do as an entrepreneur. It can be hugely frustrating, disappointing and genuinely discouraging. But lots of entrepreneurs do it. And so can you. Get the Nos out of the way and go for Yes! The exhilaration of the handshake sealing the deal is unlike any other transaction in business.
No one knows when this amazing window of financial opportunity is going to close. Spiffy up your business plan and go for it. Now.
Ms. Shank is a seasoned business plan specialist.
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