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要融资成功,创业者不能忽视这10件事

Ian Mahiter 2018年06月05日

为企业寻找资金时,创业者要铭记十条核心原则。

为企业寻找资金时,创业者往往会把经营的基本原则抛在脑后。他们以为什么样的资金都能用,慢慢地,失败的种子就埋下了。

创业者在找资金时应该铭记以下十大核心原则:

1. 并非所有初创公司都适合股权融资。

股权融资通常只适合高成长企业,尤其是十年内有望通过并购或上市实现初始投资增值10到20倍的。

2. 请考虑所有可能的融资来源。

股权类众筹、基金、商业计划竞赛、孵化器或加速器、家人或朋友以及潜在客户等等都是很不错的非稀释性资本。还有,潜在客户也是早期资金的好来源,请不要忽视。假如潜在客户亟需某种产品,他们可能愿意支付预付款。

3. 自给自足融资可为未来成功奠定长远的基石。

如果创业之初自有资金充沛,能不靠外部投资者最好。因为外部投资者加入后经常会干扰决策,运营流程变得复杂,各种进度报告也会耗费创业者宝贵的时间。如果在融资前就有进展,会显示创业团队有充分的执行力,能创造出看得见摸得着的价值,从而降低外部投资的风险。创业团队早期自力更生也有助于与投资者保持力量平衡,今后讨论融资条件时会更有成效,也方便双方建立长期的合作关系。

4. 没有千篇一律的投资者。

锁定适合的投资者至关重要。投资人最好有丰富的投资经验、相关行业的专业知识、实用的人脉,而且要能包容创业初期的起伏。脾气相投也是很重要的一点——创业者同投资者交恶往往酿成企业的灾难。

5. 热情的自我介绍很重要。

假如创业者不主动介绍自己,投资人基本上不会理会。所以,找到一个愿意积极把初创公司推销出去的人很重要,人到位之后还要准备好一段吸引人的企业介绍。不要在介绍阶段长篇大论,介绍的目的是抓住和投资人面对面的机会讲好公司的故事。

6. 听从不适合的融资建议会让融资走上歧途。

向友好的投资人和经验丰富的创业者求助,可以加快融资进程。相反,如果向没有融过资,或是没有投过创业公司的投资人征求融资建议,只会得到让人困惑和矛盾的建议。因此,创业者应该结交曾经成功募资的企业家请教心得。找一些不是你希望融资的主要目标的创业企业投资人,跟他们非正式地聊聊,让他们对创业计划挑挑刺,提点反馈意见。

7. 投资者不是捐款人。

投资人都是期望得到回报的。所以,清楚说明如何获得回报就格外重要。拿钱之前就要想清楚让投资人获利退出的可能性,最好跟投资人的预期相差不大。道理看似简单,但我们还是发现许多创业者将投资者当成捐款的了。投资人之所以愿意投资企业,就是因为想获得良好的回报。企业的风险越高、所需的融资越多,潜在的投资回报就应该越大。

8. 其实最关键的就是创业团队。

一旦投资人认定机会不错,最后投资与否就取决于是否相信创业团队的执行力。对很多聪明的投资者而言,创业团队比创业“梦想”更重要。如果你是第一次创业,就邀请一些经验老道又积极的顾问帮助弥补经验和技术不足,增强团队实力。

9. 向投资者演示的每一页文件对讲好故事来说都很重要。

创业公司在投资人面前常见的错误包括:

——“走向市场”的策略过于简单:积极运用社交媒体不算赢得客户的计划,投资者想看到细节,想详细了解初创公司获取客户的渠道和成本。

——不承认存在竞争:很少有公司没有竞争对手,也很少有问题没有其他解决方案。假装竞争者不存在实在太过天真。投资者希望看到初创公司扎根行业,不惧竞争,充分明白如何调整企业定位以获得成功。

——财务目标不现实:投资者都知道创业初期的企业财务预期本来就是不断修正的假设。他们期望看到的不是承诺具体的财务数据,而是合理的模型。投资人会拒绝那些显示营业收入前景极为可观、预期费用又极低的财务规划。

——不解释怎样利用投资,或者未来到底需要多少资金能实现退出或是现金流平衡:投资者希望从参与融资最初就能被视为公司的合伙人。如果向投资人隐瞒关键预期或信息,后果自负。

10. 投资者拒绝投资未必说明商业计划不值一提。

投资者说“不”并不一定是说初创公司的创意、计划或者创业团队不值得投资。有时可能只是因为项目不适合某些投资者的投资主题,或者时机不合适。竞争合作方的兴趣、融资回收周期、其他投资机会等等变量都会影响具体投资决策。(财富中文网)

注:作者伊安·马什特是波士顿大学凯斯特罗姆商学院传播实验室BuzzLab负责人。

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

Entrepreneurs often forget the basics of good business when searching for funds. They think money from any source is good money, and in the process, set themselves up for failure.

Here are 10 core principles entrepreneurs need to keep in mind in their search for funding:

1. Not all startups are suitable for equity financing.

Equity financing usually only makes sense for high-growth businesses that have the potential to return 10-20x the initial investment through an M&A or IPO exit event within 10 years.

2. Consider all potential sources of funding.

Non-equity crowdfunding, grants, business plan competitions, incubators/accelerators, family/friends and potential customers are all great sources of non-dilutive capital. Don’t overlook prospective customers as a source of early capital. If a prospect needs a product badly enough, they may be willing to pay in advance for it.

3. Bootstrapping can set you up for long-term success.

If you are able to raise money from other sources rather than from investors early on, do it. Having investors involved frequently complicates operations by putting another voice at the table and reporting requirements that may consume your valuable time. Making progress before trying to raise money demonstrates that the team can execute, creates tangible business value, and begins to de-risk the investment. This in turn improves the power balance between entrepreneur and investor, and makes for a more productive negotiation of financing terms and the long-term relationship between both parties.

4. All investors are not the same.

Targeting the right investors is critical. The best money comes from experienced investors with relevant industry expertise, useful contacts, and tolerance for the ups and downs and pivots of early-stage ventures. Personality matching is also essential – a poor relationship with an investor is usually a recipe for disaster.

5. Warm introductions are essential.

Investors rarely react to unsolicited pitches. It is important to find someone willing to make a positive introduction and then to arm them with a compelling one-paragraph introduction to the business. Don’t send a lot of information in the introductory exchange. The goal is to get in front of the investor to tell your story.

6. Taking fundraising advice from the wrong people can derail your fundraising.

Testing the pitch with friendly investors and experienced entrepreneurs can accelerate the process. Conversely, taking fundraising advice from anyone who hasn’t raised money or invested in an early-stage company will just lead to confusion and conflicting advice. Network your way to other entrepreneurs who have successfully raised money and ask them about their experience. Have informal meetings with early stage investors who are not your key targets but can look at your investor proposition with a critical eye and provide feedback.

7. Investors are not donors.

Investors expect to see a return on their investment. It is extremely important to clearly articulate a path to a return. Before taking investor money, understand the exit potential of the business and make sure that it is aligned with investor expectations. Although this seems simplistic, we have seen many entrepreneurs who treat their investors as if they are donors. Investors are investing in your business because they want a healthy return on their investment. The greater the risk in the business and funding required, the greater the return potential needs to be.

8. It’s really all about the team.

Once an investor believes in the opportunity, the investment decision comes down to whether they believe your team can execute. For many wise investors, the quality of the team is more important than the quality of the “dream.” If you are a first-time entrepreneur, augment team capabilities with an experienced, active advisory board that fills missing gaps in experience and skills.

9. Every slide in the investor presentation is important and contributes to the story of the business.

Common mistakes in the investor deck include:

– Simplistic “go to market” strategy: Aggressive social media is not a customer acquisition plan. Investors want to see detail around your assumptions related to the channels and cost of acquiring customers.

– No acknowledgement of competition: It is the very rare company that doesn’t have a competitor or alternative solution to the problem it is trying to solve. Pretending that competitors don’t exist is beyond naive. Investors want to see that you have a firm grasp on your industry and competitive ecosystem, and understand how to position your company for success.

– Unrealistic financial plans: Investors understand that early-stage financial projections are a working hypothesis and are looking for a reasonable model rather than concrete commitments. Investors will be dismissive of plans that show extraordinary revenue ——projections with minimal expenses.

– No explanation about how investment funds will be used or how much future capital will be needed to reach a viable exit or cash-flow break-even: Investors need to feel like partners, from the outset. Withhold critical assumptions or information at your own peril.

10. An investor “No” doesn’t always reflect a judgment of the business plan’s quality.

A “no” from an investor does not necessarily mean the idea, plan, or team is not investable. It may simply mean that the opportunity is not a fit for a particular investor’s investment thesis or timeline. A complex set of variables including competing partner interests, fund life cycles, and alternative investment options will impact individual investment decisions.

Ian Mashiter is the director of the BuzzLab at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

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