Connect with us

How to Guides

Gearing Up For Funding Applications: What Does It Take For A Small Business To Be Funding-Ready?

This article provides insights into what entrepreneurs need to have in place before putting themselves in front of prospective funders or investors.

Donna Rachelson

Published

on

business-funding-strategy-in-south-africa

wealthy-saving-money

Find the most fitting funding channel for your business

Entrepreneurs need to thoroughly research and select the most appropriate funding channels for their business. They must establish the specific criteria in order to apply.

Funding institutions, especially larger Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in SA, have numerous categories of financial and business support for entrepreneurs. So spending time finding the most appropriate options for your business is vital.

Bear in mind that

  • Some only support small businesses in a particular industry sector – typically, priority economic sectors
  • Others only support businesses at a particular stage of growth
  • Some just provide just capital
  • Some require the entrepreneur to pay back the funding over time
  • Others do not (usually grant funding)
  • Some provide mentorship and get involved in growing the business together with their financial investment.

Related: What Funding Options Are There For Entrepreneurial Businesses In South Africa?

Paper work

applying-for-funding

You should be prepared to spend a lot of time getting all the necessary documentation together. Depending on the criteria specified, some or all of the following may be required for the funding application:

  • Proof of type of company e.g. CIPC registered company, closed corporation, sole proprietor, etc.
  • Proof of ownership and shareholding
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of SA citizenship
  • Certified ID of all directors/ members/ staff
  • Certified financial statements
  • Management accounts
  • Valid SARS tax clearance certificate
  • Other SARS documentation
  • VAT registration document (where applicable)
  • Bank statements.

The pitch to your prospective funders

When pitching for funding to any institution or individual, there are key criteria that Seed Academy recommends to its entrepreneurs:

  • Be extremely conservative in the financial projections presented to the prospective funder
  • Be fully prepared to explain exactly where the figures are derived from and be able to support this with evidence
  • Show your funders that you have an in-depth understanding of the business and the competitive environment in which you are operating
  • Be able to answer questions such as: What sets your business apart from other small businesses offering similar products or services? What are your differentiators? What can you provide that no other business can?
  • Know what the expected return on the investment for the prospective investor will be
  • Be extremely clear on the expected repayment period and terms
  • Have a proof of your concept or your most viable product
  • Be able to show an existing and ideally, a future customer base.

Related: Small Business Funding In South Africa

Engage your audience, don’t bore them

Try not to exceed 15 slides in your pitch presentation. Don’t bore your audience! They will be sitting through many presentations for the same pot of money. Practice your presentation beforehand.

The guidelines allow investors to see that the business idea has been thought through, that the business environment has been considered and that the entrepreneur is willing to sacrifice to make the idea work. This will serve to allay some of the fears of investors and enable the entrepreneur to create a strong first impression that could open the doors for meaningful funding discussions.

Entrepreneurs must be able to show their prospective investors that they are equipped personally and professionally to be a determined business owner.

A good business idea is vital, but the entrepreneurial journey comes with many unforeseen challenges. You need to demonstrate that you have the tenacity and determination required for success.

Entrepreneurs are the job creators of the future, don’t give up

Patience is critical. If a funding application is not successful first time around, learn, fine-tune your approach, and try again.

At Seed Academy, we believe entrepreneurs are integral to economic growth and are the job creators of the future. With the right training, support and funding they can build successful, sustainable businesses. Entrepreneurs need to be equipped to build successful, scalable business and to become the job creators of the future.

Donna Rachelson, branding and marketing specialist, is the author of three books.She has held marketing director positions in blue chip organisations and has a solid business education, including an MBA and is a guest lecturer at GIBS .As a successful businesswoman and investor in businesses, Donna is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs and women, uplifting them with her unique brand of inspiringly practical, strategically results-driven guidance. She is currently Chief Catalyst at Seed Academy- a training and incubation ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

How to Guides

What Can A Business Loan Be Used For?

Read on below for what you can use these loans for.

Amy Galbraith

Published

on

business-loan

Sometimes in the business world, you might need a financial helping hand. This is especially true if you are starting out as a business owner or building your business from where it already is. This is where business finance can be highly useful because you can use it for any number of issues that your business might be facing.

When you apply for any business loans you should know what you want to use the money for. For example, asset financing is used to lease, hire or purchase new equipment or vehicles for your business.

Small business loans can be used to boost your business funds or for purchasing new premises. Interested in applying for business finance? Read on below for what you can use these loans for.

You can purchase inventory

If you sell products, the chances are that your cash flow can often be dictated by having to restock your shelves. But if you have a business loan, you can purchase more inventory to replenish your stock and stay in operation throughout the year.

Purchasing new inventory during seasonal dips, such as selling out of items during the festive season, can become expensive. This is where finance can come in handy. You can have the funds deposited into your company bank account and use it solely for restocking your shelves, allowing better management of accounts during these trying times. It is not a long term solution, however, to use a loan to purchase inventory can be helpful for small businesses just starting out.

You can upgrade equipment

Having outdated equipment will put you at a significant disadvantage to your competitors. This can be remedied by taking out business asset finance in order to upgrade your current equipment. You can lease, hire or even purchase everything you need to maintain your original business plan.

For example, a transport or logistics company can use this finance to improve their fleet, to upgrade their current trucks, or to provide new technology to drivers to help them navigate the South African roads. If you are a boutique design agency, you can use your loan to purchase new computers with the latest software so that your staff is always on the cutting edge of all trends. On your loan application, be sure to list what you plan on using the money for so that you have accurate estimations of your interest rates.

Keep your office operational

Keeping your office operational means that you need to pay for day-to-day expenses. This can include anything from replacing an old coffee machine so your staff stays caffeinated to paying the utility bills so that your office does not go dark when you need electricity the most.

This could be seen as starting capital for small business owners, which you can then supplement with more income or repay once your business starts to earn more and become successful. You could create a list of all of your needs, such as paying lights and water bills or fixing kitchen equipment and look for those that you need to focus on the most. For example, your staff could bring their own lunches into the office in case you need to replace the fridge or you could strike a deal with a nearby coffee shop to save yourself from spending unnecessarily on expensive coffee equipment.

You can boost your marketing budget

Marketing is not easy to understand for everyone. While you might have a brilliant business mind, your aptitude for selling and marketing your company might not be your strong suit. This can be helped by investing a business loan into a marketing company for your strategy, which can help build awareness about your business and make it a success.

You will have improved brand visibility and can reach customers in new and exciting ways. And you will also see a significant return on investment when reports and analytics come in showing your business’s performance. Marketing is an integral part of building a flourishing business, so using your loan for this purpose would not be a waste. Be sure to speak to your lender about whether this is an acceptable use of your business finance and what the interest rates would be.

Final thoughts

A business loan can be a sound investment, especially if you consider what it can be used for. You could look into purchasing new inventory for your shelves during a busy shopping period, or upgrade your machinery for your next big project. You can use the money to keep your day-to-day expenses from becoming overwhelming or boost your marketing budget so you can reach customers and build your business.

Continue Reading

How to Guides

Does Your Business Really Need Funding?

Strategy, risks, and opportunities.

Carl Wazen

Published

on

cash-machine

Businesses need capital to grow, and most small enterprises rely on external funding to meet this requirement. While accessing funding can be challenging for entrepreneurs, taking on the financial commitments of a loan should never be taken lightly. Many small businesses fail because repayment conditions are so onerous they impact cash flow, and business owners end up blacklisted, which dampens their future prospects.

First, ask yourself some hard questions

Before you decide to apply for that loan, cash advance or capital injection, make sure that your business really needs funding. Critically evaluate your business. Consider that you’ll ultimately need to give something back for that funding – an equity stake, or interest payments.

Determine how much the extra funding is worth to you, and what would happen to your business if you couldn’t get it.

Define your goals

The type of funding you need (and how you validate it in the application) is dependent on your short- and long-term goals. If you’re not currently on track to achieving your business objectives, determine what stumbling blocks or pain points are holding you back. Ultimately, you should be certain that the capital will help you achieve your objectives.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Evaluate your financial pain points

Next, determine which of the identified obstacles can be overcome with extra money. While most could, a loan may not be the answer. Entrepreneurs often use financing to temporarily plug holes, instead of fixing them. Without addressing the root cause of the issue, the business will continue to struggle, while also dealing with the extra debt.

It is also important to consider the nature of your requirements, and the impact this will have on finances. For instance, using a loan to hire more staff requires upfront funds before additional revenue can be generated. The same applies to sales and marketing initiatives.

Expanding your footprint as part of a strategic plan to grow your business also requires funding, but these are usually long-term loans that take more time to pay back. A thorough evaluation is needed to determine the potential return on investment and compare it to other opportunities.

Evaluate if the strategic benefits will outweigh the mid-term cash flow risks.

Consider your options

Before making any financial commitment, first look for ways to optimise your operation to realise cost efficiencies within the business that can free up working capital to fund the fix.

If you determine that funding will address your pain points, by boosting inventory ahead of a seasonal spike, for example, consider vendor financing or supplier credit options before securing financing from a bank.

If you need to expand the business, look for ways to lower the associated costs. For example, franchising a new location to a competent partner can relieve you of some of the financial burden. A product-based business could perhaps generate extra income by selling via online channels, or through distributors or other retailers instead of a new store.

Related: The DTI Funding Guide You’ve Been Looking For: The What And How

Scenario planning

However, should you choose to proceed, before you sign any loan or credit agreement, make sure you consider all possible scenarios:

  • How long will it take before your investment starts covering the costs of your loan?
  • How will you manage repayments if your forecasted growth doesn’t materialise?
  • How can you pivot to reallocate resources if your plan is not working out as initially intended?

The bottom line

Before you start looking for funding for your business, critically evaluate if your business really needs it. If you decide capital is necessary to reach your goals, and you’re willing to take on the responsibility, carefully consider the type of funding that is best for your particular type of business and your specific needs.

Continue Reading

How to Guides

How Investors Choose Who To Invest In

Why entrepreneurs tend to focus on the wrong things when pitching to investors, and what investors are really evaluating instead.

Allon Raiz

Published

on

business-investors

The hypothesis of my book Lose the Business Plan was that great businesses are not determined by Excel spreadsheets and the all too predictable J-curve, but rather by the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team and their ability to see opportunity, navigate obstacles and make things happen.

The truth is that entrepreneurs focus on the wrong side of the coin when meeting with an investor. They focus on the deep detail of the business plan and concentrate on justifying assumptions, predicting and overcoming objections, and emphasising market potential. Yet it’s my experience that the real decision on whether or not to invest in a company is more heavily weighted towards the entrepreneur or team rather than the business plan itself.

Once the ‘numbers’ stack (in other words, the business model makes sense) and the risks have been considered and appropriately mitigated, then the real decision-making can begin. The final decision comes down to four important characteristics of the entrepreneur himself or herself.

1. Is she honest?

You may have the best business plan in the world and you may have mitigated every possible risk but, if you are not someone the investor can trust, no deal will be made. I find that entrepreneurs often underestimate the importance of their reputations and, in today’s connected world, it’s so quick and easy to reference someone’s character.

Related: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

Entrepreneurs who think about the short game and make morally questionable decisions for the prospect of quick profits generally find themselves in an ever-diminishing circle of people who will do deals with them. Your reputation is everything and you should guard it at all costs.

2. Does she work hard?

I am still not resolved around the cliché that you should work smart and not hard. (Perhaps I missed the memo or was asleep during the lecture that demonstrated how this is possible.)

In a world that is changing at an astonishing rate, in an economy that is becoming more and more competitive and in a business environment that is becoming ever more complex, it’s hard work to remain relevant and ahead of the curve for any extended period of time. Every quarter sees a new trajectory that needs to be investigated and navigated. In my opinion, this requires not just smart work but hard work, too.

It’s certainly true that investors like to invest in entrepreneurs who will take their investment seriously, who take their businesses seriously, and who are on top of their games.

3. Is she smart?

Smart does not always mean book smart but it definitely means street smart. It means having the ability to read a room, to see an opportunity, to learn new skills quickly and also being able to apply new learning’s to the business.

Investors look for investees who show agility when adapting to feedback from the market, from their competitors, from their staff and more.

4. Is she ambitious?

Investors do not like investing in ‘mom and pop’ operations. They seek the highest return on investment and that comes from businesses that can scale profitably. Scale is always relative to the investor’s perspective and not your own.

An investor with a couple of hundred thousand rand to invest will have very different expectations of the size of business he or she would like to invest in compared to another investor who has tens of millions of dollars. It’s important for the entrepreneur to authentically resonate with the level of ambition of their prospective investor, and be able to express that ambition through a coherent and cogent vision, as well as a plan to achieve that vision.

Remember, no one starts out as the ideal investee. It’s something that is built up over time and requires constant maintenance and curatorship. It’s essential to continually work on your reputation, to ensure that you are up to date with your industry, and to reassess your level of competence in your market. This is the only way to make sure you become and remain an ideal investee to a potential investor.

Read next: The Investor Sourcing Guide

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending