Attracting funding in a recession

Sally Goodsell, CEO of regional funding organisation Finance South East, explains how businesses can win private investment in the midst of a downturn.

Venture capital investment continues in a recession. Market conditions inevitably influence decisions, but companies are assessed on an individual basis. Ultimately investors want to find businesses with a strong potential of delivering high growth and if you fit this description you’re in with a fighting chance.

Before you approach an investor, however, it is worth thinking about what they’re looking for. Here are some of the key criteria.

Good management
Investors look for management teams that cover the three key elements of entrepreneurial innovation, marketing nous and financial acumen. Ensure your team is strong in each of these areas before presenting it in the best possible light. Particularly in difficult economic times, investors will be looking at your track record and your motivation to overcome obstacles in order to deliver on the venture’s potential.

Thorough financial planning
Investors need an accurate picture of how much investment is required, how the cash will be spent and what this will enable the business to achieve. The more detail the better. Make sure all investment is earmarked for development or growth strategies, never refinancing or business running costs.

Growth markets
You need to illustrate your market knowledge to give investors confidence, showing a detailed understanding of market drivers and how they will develop over the period of investment.

Sustainable competitive advantage
A thorough understanding of the competition and what sets you apart is extremely important, especially in a recession. Protecting important intellectual property is also crucial.

Exit strategy
You’ll need to spell out how your investors will make a profit and when. Your business plan should clearly plot the course to commercialisation so that they can visualise their exit from the company, whether that is through a trade sale or initial public offering.

Related: How to choose the right exit strategy

A joint approach
As with any professional relationship, trust and good communication are essential. Your funding advisor will offer constructive criticism on your investment readiness and you need to be open to their suggestions and willing to make any necessary changes. After all, this is a partnership you’re proposing.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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