Are You Looking For Business Start Up Funding? Here's 5 On-the-Money Strategies to Obtain It
One of the things which sets men side from women, when looking for funding for their start up business, is they think in terms of "big". Their ideas, plans, strategies, thoughts, for example, are always big. And when it comes to funding, this is just what an investor wants to hear. Because, when it comes down to it, larger, more expansive ideas can always be scaled back. But it takes much more work, and far longer, to re-develop something "small".
This is not to say women do not get the funding needed. They ever do. It simply takes them longer. Where part of the problem lies is in the application process: Women often sell themselves short. Here's 4 reasons why:
- Women come off as less prepared. Generally inexperienced with the process.
- They give up too easily. But men do not take no-even the two dozenth no-for an answer. Each no revs them up and spurs them on.
- Men use bolder approaches. Often do risky things to get and keep a lender's attention.
- Women settle for less. Willing to take the first investor or lender's offer. Men always negotiate for more. Or move on when it's not forthcoming.
What can women do to streamline the process to suit themselves?
1. Greater preparation creates greater confidence.
When headed to a visit with a lender, or potential investor, go in as well prepared as possible. In this case, there's no such thing as being over prepared. And do not cower, or let your confidence slide, if they should berate your idea, or question your decisions. It's what they do.
What should your response be – Steel yourself, and do not let it bother you. Your pre-visit practice, and preparation, should help relax you. And each question you confidently answer will help build greater rapport. And probability you'll receive what you need.
2. Do not go it alone.
The loan or grant application process is lengthy. It can easily deplete your energy. Causing you to give up too soon. Or beginning doubting yourself. When you include family, a significant other, or friends who offer encouragement, you can lean on them in moments of doubt or frustration. Plus, having others who support you makes staying the course, focused and determined, that much easier.
3. Do not be afraid to take financial risks.
It's a fine line, you walk, when trying to obtain funding. On the one hand you have lenders representing banks who are usually "risk adverse". And investors, on the other hand, who are not. It's likely they've walked over hot coals, sold their only car and mortgaged their homes to the hilt, to get where they are. And though it is not necessary to do any of that, there will be other risks you may be required to take to obtain funding from them. If it's something you believe you can live with, do not hesitate to take the risk.
4. Do not be afraid to ask for the amount of funding you want.
Many men, knowing it's likely they'll receive much less than requested, will ask for outrageous amounts. In short, much more than they'll actually need. And usually have serious reasons for supporting that request. So it's likely they'll receive at least what they actually ineed.
Lenders and investors, alike, believe women ask for much less than needed. And they worry about granting those lesser amounts. Because that amount may not be nearly enough to successfully get the business up and running; or sustain it until it gets on it's feet. On the other hand, they agree they've provided women more. If they're only asked. Bottom line: Always ask for what you need.
5. Starting out, women are leery about networking in men's groups. Yet that's often where the solid leads and funding resources can be found.
It's clear one of the main reasons men network in male-dominated groups is, it's loaded with financial resources usually not found elsewhere. Someone they wind up playing golf with – what they'd usually never have access to – could become their next investor. Or introduce them to someone else who will. Or provide the very resources that they've been hunting for.
In a 5 year research project developed into the book "Clearing Hurdles: Women Building High-Growth Businesses", co-author Patricia Green says, "(Women) need to link to the right resources, networks and people to get over their funding hurdles "He said. And this usually means, she suggests, women adding some male-dominated groups to their usual assortment of networking groups.
One last word:
Take the time to find a financial partner who's right for you. And you will not fear losing control. Women are always concerned outside investors will take control of their business; dictate priorities. Or otherwise interfere. Remember, once you take on an investor, they become an owner, with a say. However, if you take the time to find the right one, they can be much more help than hindrance. Plus, you can have contracts developed that allow you to buy them out if things start to go south.