BY ARLENE DICKINSON, CEO, VENTURE COMMUNICATIONS
We have all read and heard about the dire state of the economy. The need for growth, innovation and Venture Capital Investment. How big companies are downsizing and generally struggling to perform financially. It makes for alarming reading, but doesn’t really provide an accurate overview of the economic landscape, where big business is no longer the sole driver.
In my view, we are shifting to an entrepreneurial economy, but investors and the media haven’t quite caught up yet. Sure, sometimes we hear about an entrepreneur who has made it big, but we tend to believe entrepreneurs are uniquely talented individuals who overcame incredible hurdles in order to succeed. After seven seasons on Dragons’ Den and two on The Big Decision, I know that’s not the case. A lot of “ordinary” people overcome the same kinds of hurdles, and simply because they don’t grow a BIG business it doesn’t mean their businesses aren’t worthy of notice and aren’t helping to power the economy.
Why don’t we hear more about how to expand, to innovate, and how to get that Venture Capital backing when you are an entrepreneur? Maybe it’s because we are so fixated on an old way of thinking about the economy — bigger is best — that we are blind to what’s really fuelling ours: entrepreneurial ventures.
Yes, large public companies contribute to our economic stability, however, increasingly, the real game changers are entrepreneurs. They’re innovating, creating jobs and building businesses at a far greater rate than ever before. Why? They’re more nimble, faster to market and are run by people who think and act quickly, with a combination of creative market insight and business opportunity, unconstrained by large bureaucracies, endless layers of management and traditional ways of operating.
Yet, it’s still tempting and feels safe to invest in a company with a proven track record, in a proven industry. A lot of investors are terrified of risk after the meltdown of 2008, which is ironic because then, the real investment risk came from bigger organizations. And back then, as with now, a willingness to risk innovating is exactly what drove amazing opportunities for investors. Think of all the great brands you know. Apple. Microsoft. Hewlett Packard. Coca-Cola. Nike. All began because an entrepreneur’s dream gained traction, and funding. Let’s not be the people who almost invested in Amazon.com but then chickened out because this whole online shopping thing seemed too newfangled. And let’s not be lemmings, following the crowd and trusting that someone else has a map.
If an idea or product makes intuitive sense to you and fits in with your own values, whether those are eco-friendly or hipster — why not put your money where your values are, and back what you believe to be true? When you think about it, entrepreneurs are the new Black: daring, sizzling even, yet also the closest thing to a safe bet that you may find as an investor.
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN PITCHING INVESTORS:
1. Don’t forget to tell investors what’s in it for them.
2. Don’t deliver a sermon on the mount.
3. Don’t be vague.
4. Don’t over-promise.
5. Don’t whine, plead or rail about all the money you’ve invested.
6. Don’t get flowery or come on too strong.
7. Don’t forget to tell a compelling personal story.