Any great invention or innovation needs financial backing. Entrepreneurs who have a great idea are often mortified by the prospect of professionally presenting their ideas to a panel of prospective investors. Hear are some tips to insure the highest probability of success.
Think about the process you go through when you buy a stock. Will you buy a stock that has unclear growth prospects, muddled financial records and unclear margins? Or will you buy into a company with a clear business plan, focused customer base and a strong, organized financial plan for the next few years? Organization is key in presenting to prospective investors, and the devil, which can be clearly visible to astute investors, is in the details.
  • Organize your business plan. Explain how your product will make money, and what operating margins are forecast to look like. Investors like high margins, regardless of sales volume, as long as they are reasonable. Detail your prospective customer base and target demographic. Keep it short - one page is the accepted norm - and concentrate on three things: focus, clarity, uniqueness.
  • Prepare a comprehensive financial plan. This should naturally flow from your business plan, but investors like solid numbers. Explain how much funding you need to get your idea off the ground, and how much ownership stake you are willing to surrender to investors. Show investors solid math - they need to know the amount of time it will take before their investments become accretive to earnings, and when the company will start to turn a profit. Show a five-year projection of revenue and earnings growth, and be realistic with the risks involved.
  • Provide a realistic forecast based on macroeconomic conditions. Turmoil in the markets has shown us that at any time, any number of economic risks can sink a product's profitability. Rising commodity costs can sink multiple products - raw materials and fuel can adversely impact your product's projected margins, depending on the components. You should outline your financial plan realistically, based on your knowledge of the world markets. This shows foresight and preparedness for turbulent times ahead and will reassure investors.
  • Outline the impact of prospective competitors. Are there any products in the market that are similar to yours, and how is your product different? What makes your product stand out from the rest of the pack - such as better cost, design, or function? Investors need to be reassured that your product isn't entering a crowded, fragmented marketplace where it will be pronounced dead on arrival. Investors also like products which have high barriers to entry, which are hard to be replicated by just any Chinese factory. Patenting your product can instantly set up high barriers.
  • Create a Prototype. If your idea is a physical product, investors will want to see a working prototype, rather than fancy sketches. Having a working prototype will give investors hands-on experience with the product, letting the experience speak for itself. You can also detail the costs of the components of the prototype, breaking the cost down section by section, and the savings to be attained through higher volume mass production.
  • Outline a PR and Advertising Campaign. Investors will want to know how your product will be marketed to the masses. Present it to them as if they are the target audience, and make them want to buy it. A catchy logo or slogan can also help reinforce the image of your product as a complete one, and attract them to your product.
Last but not least, stay professional. Investors - especially venture capitalists and angel investors - are offered products all the time. Make sure you maintain the image of someone who they can trust their money with. Be realistic with your projections and don't exaggerate - professional investors will see through inflated numbers instantly, and your presentation will come off looking like a poorly conceived infomercial.