Let’s be real. Scaling a business is nothing like growing a start-up. Securing funding for a start-up has its hurdles. But raising money for a scale-up is a whole different ball game. Apart from the fact that it’s harder for scale-ups to find the right investors, scale-up owners have a business to run. They have clients to service, processes to oversee and everyday problems to fix.
Combine this with the full time job of getting out into the market to raise money, and time management becomes a real challenge. The hunt for investors might almost seem a distraction, but it’s a vital one. The trick is to keep bringing yourself back to that big picture, and reminding yourself of those wider ambitions.
I’ve put together 5 tips that I have learnt though expanding TechSpace and working with numerous scale-ups.
1) Know Thyself
By understanding your team, business and goals, you will be better placed to secure the right investment from the right people. You need to have a solid understanding of what your business is and what it needs before you go to investors. Most of the time in tech businesses, scaling up means automating processes to do better.
2) Are your team the best they could be?
The team that got you to where you are now might not be the ones to help move you forward. It’s a hard pill to swallow for many business owners, but it’s true. Are the ambitious enough? Do they have the skill set to support the cofounders to grow 10x? By asking yourself these hard questions you will be able to get your team to a place where they share your vision and have what it takes to grow the business.
3) Are VCs for you?
Entrepreneur’s, by nature, are independent, free-spirited people- being your own boss is hugely attractive. As a result, entrepreneurs don’t always look on VCs favourably, but it is important to remember that the market is hugely diverse. There are investors who want to help the business grow, not just sit back and watch. In London, organisations like the London Co Investment Fund are a helpful stepping-stone from early stage investment and help to de-mystify the VC world by making the right introductions.
4) How do you know this deal is for you?
Even with the ideal investor, it’s essential to strike a deal which works for your company. You need to ask yourself how much money do I really need? In what ways am I accountable to my investor? And crucially: how much equity am I willing to part with?
5) Control vs Stability
When you take on cash, you pay a price. By giving away equity you lose through control when your investor takes a board seat. Suddenly you have to factor in another party when it comes to the big decisions. Before seeking an investment, you need to work out how much of that control you are willing to give up, and know what can handle.
By David Galsworthy, CEO of Techspace