When you’re growing a business, it can be hard to persuade people to invest in your idea. But, it’s harder still if you’re growing your business across borders, expanding internationally and seeking investment from venture capitalists (VCs) to bring your plans to fruition. Here are five common mistakes to avoid.
1. Asking for investment without having ‘boots on the ground’
No matter how comprehensive and persuasive your pitch is, you’re going to put yourself at a disadvantage if you haven’t established a presence in the country you’re asking for VC investment in. So, demonstrate that you intend to be a permanent player in the field by hiring employees in your chosen destination before you ask for investment. This doesn’t have to be as time-consuming, risky or expensive as this initially sounds, as you can simply work with a third party to hire employees on your behalf without the need to establish a subsidiary company. Visit somewhere like http://www.footholdamerica.com/ to learn about how this works in advance of making a pitch to a VC.
2. Choosing the first VC who offers you money
Pitching to venture capitalists can be intimidating, and you might work your way through a long list of options until someone offers you what you’re looking for. However, don’t be too quick to accept a deal from the first person to offer you one, even if it’s tempting.
Instead, you’ll strike a far better deal if you target venture capitalists who are prepared to invest in your geography, industry and specific market. They should also be suited to the size of your company, the stage of your company’s growth and the size of the deal you’re looking for. And of course, none of this means anything if they don’t actually have investable funds available, so be sure to check. Here’s some more useful advice on choosing a VC if you’d like more information on the matter.
3. Failing to highlight your commonalities while pitching for investment
Another mistake a business will often make is failing to highlight their commonalities with a prospective VC. Factors such as speaking the same language, running businesses with similar structures or even having laws and regulations that originate from a shared source can make a working relationship far easier to envisage, increasing your likelihood of securing investment – so don’t overlook it.
4. Failing to highlight your company’s strengths while pitching for an investment
One of your strengths as an investment opportunity might include the fact that you’re already a well-established company in your home country, with smooth processes, existing customers and a sales record. This is far more preferable to a VC than someone who’s simply presenting a pitch deck or talking about a product that’s still in the research stage. So, highlight your business’s best strengths if you want to secure investment.
5. Diminishing your competition
Finally, nothing rings alarm bells like saying “we don’t have any real competition here”. It’s very unlikely to be the case, and what you’re actually doing is signalling that you have a real lack of local market knowledge: something you’re already going to have to work hard to overcome given that you’re seeking investment as an overseas business. So, do your homework on who your competitors are before you approach a VC for investment – you’ll need to articulate why a customer in your chosen destination should move away from their current provider and choose your products or services, rather than pretending the competition doesn’t exist.