There was a time when, if you needed cash for your business, you wrote a business plan and went to see your bank manager. If that failed, your only other option was to visit a velour curtained civic centre or town hall on “meet the investor” night, chomp on a few vol-au-vents and hope that someone somewhere would listen to your 30-second pitch.
Whichever route you took, you had to know your stuff. You needed a decent business model, you needed to know exactly how you were going to go about building your business and above all you needed to have gone through your figures with a fine tooth-comb to show it would be profitable. Thankfully, nowadays, the financial and investor landscape has completely changed and you’re no longer at the mercy of a stuffy, clueless bank manager or some sweaty, cigar-smoking “Boycie” who still doesn’t believe the internet will catch on. The advent of crowd and alternative funding platforms has made us all capable of becoming investors. All we need to do is not have those extra two pints or large kebab on a Friday night and we’ve saved the minimum amount needed to become the next Wolf of Wall Street. The chances are, we’ll probably invest the £10 we saved on the kebab or the extra pints the very same night, whilst we’re still drunk. And if you’re not the investing type – possibly because you don’t like the risk of investing your own money – you’ll try your hand at being an entrepreneur. Read more about crowdfunding:
Here in the UK there are literally thousands of us making that choice every month. Unlike back in the 1090s, where to become an entrepreneur you either had to be (i) insane (ii) ludicrously wealthy or (iii) completely irresponsible, nowadays every man and his dog can come up with an idea in their sleep and set up a fundraiser the next day. And whilst you might think this is great for Britain and encourages everyone to follow their dreams, the reality is that dreams are just that. They’re dreams – not full-proof business plans and the majority of them are simply not meant to come true. If they were I’d be getting paid to eat giant meat pies whilst sitting on a pink cloud watching TV with my dog Lofty…but I’m not. So we’ve entered an age where rather than producing a business plan, getting funding is now considered by many as the official stamp of a solid business idea. After all, investors are intelligent people and wouldn’t dream of putting their money into something unless it was guaranteed to work – would they? This is leading to many so called entrepreneurs simply piecing together five minutes worth of Google research with a few edgy catchphrases and some honky-tonk piano music to make a two-minute video pitch. They’ll then go on the hunt for tens of thousands of pounds to fund their fresh and completely un-thought through idea. Where’s the harm in that you might be thinking – a seasoned investor is not going to touch it with a barge pole. But herein lies the problem. Judging whether an idea is fund worthy or not is an army of people who have just had a skinful on a Friday night and missed out on their kebab because “they’re on a diet”. On that basis, five years from now we’ll probably all be wearing banana skin clothing and travelling to work on stylish business pogo sticks. So if you want my advice, when you go out this Friday, have those extra pints and treat yourself to a large Kebab. You can start your diet in the morning. Chris Mayfield is chief executive and founder of marketing group Business Hands.
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