Leadership & Productivity

Investors reveal their tips for pitching for funding

4 min read

01 December 2017

Special projects journalist

Many businesses hit a wall when it comes to funding – it can be hard to grow at pace without the right financial backing. Here are some tips for pitching.

Want to be prepared before you step into the dragon’s lair? Find out the tips for pitching a host of investors had.

Many businesses hit a wall when it comes to funding – it can be hard to grow at pace without the right financial backing.

One of the biggest issues companies face time and time again when trying to scale up is that of funding – where do you get the cash from to pay for all your big ideas?

Naturally, businesses need to be able to cover the costs of products and research and development – but even those offering fairly inexpensive products and services have to cover the cost of recruitment, payroll and rent. It all adds up.

Taking an idea to the next level can mean all kinds of things. Maybe it means opening a new store, expanding into a new market, developing a new product, marketing to a new demographic. Whatever it is a business needs money for, eventually the time will come to pitch to a bank, or an investor.

Recently, as part of a survey of anonymous businesses and investors, Innovate UK gathered together some top tips for pitching for cash.

Here are some of the answers to the question: “What one piece of advice would you give a scale-up business about pitching to you?”

Know your audience

“Know your audience – understand our strategy and interests. Look at our website, see where we are in the funding cycle and pitch accordingly.”

“Investigate: ask other companies we have invested in, learn from others.”

Know your customer and market

“That everything you talk about to me demonstrates that you absolutely and fully understand your customers, that you live and breathe them, have a personal relationship with them and that the business hasn’t been developed in a vacuum.”

Be honest and realistic

“Be succinct, straightforward and honest about what is yet to be done.”

“We need to see a well-thought-out business plan with realistic and achievable forecasts.”

Engage early

“It’s good to start building a relationship before needing to accelerate, so investors get to know the business better.”

“Come and meet us early in terms of engagement, not just at the point where they are looking for my money.”

Show resilience

“to show that they have the capacity to maintain flexibility in the case of future unknowns.”

“Be transparent and highlight failures as well as successes: ‘learn to fail’.”

Some of this may seem counter intuitive. For example, some businesses in the same survey were concerned about going to a funder too early and expose weaknesses that might turn an investor against them.

However, for some investors, businesses looking ahead in the early days to see what funding options might be available later down the line looks impressive.

Ultimately, it comes down to business owners being able to demonstrate that they understand their own business, warts and all. If an entrepreneur knows what’s wrong with their business, they know what to work on – there’s always something to improve.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.