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How to Find Investors for Your Business

By Mike McLeod Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Mike McLeod
By Mike McLeod Reviewed By Mike Lucas

A man makes a presentation to find investors for his small business.

Learning how to find investors for a small business doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think.

Thanks to the rise of online resources and startup incubators throughout the U.S., looking for investors is easier than ever.

Knowing about the different kinds of investors, what they can offer and how to find the right one could give you a leg up when trying to finance any stage of your business’s growth.

We’ll break down the various types of investors and which could be the best fit for your business. We’ll also take a look at the several options for connecting with investors, such as:

  1. Demo or Pitch Days
  2. Networking
  3. New Connections 
  4. Online Resources

Who Are Small Business Investors?

Small business investors are individuals or groups looking to finance businesses they believe have the potential to provide them a significant return on investment (ROI).

Investors share the same overall goal: make money. But they’re still people, each with different interests and characteristics. Learning more about who these people are is useful in your search to find investors for your business.

Many specialize in certain industries or business models. For example, an investor who has a history of working exclusively with construction companies would be unlikely to finance a restaurant startup.

Some investors have motivations beyond the realm of industry, choosing to help small business owners with specific racial, ethnic, religious or economic backgrounds. Clearly, an investor who wants to help small business owners in poor, inner-city neighborhoods would be less likely to fund a business in a wealthy suburb.

Types of Small Business Investors

There are 2 main types of investors that small businesses use: venture capitalists and angel investors.

It’s important to know which type is best for you when you search to find private investors for your small business.

Venture Capitalists

Backers who are venture capitalists (VCs) usually invest large amounts of money (from $100,000 into the millions) with a goal of matching it with a large return.

Venture firms generally invest the money of others, acting like a trade broker who manages stock portfolios. They do the due diligence necessary to make sound investment decisions, ensuring returns to the members of their group.

Venture capitalists tend to focus on businesses with huge growth potential that have opened up a full seed round.

If you’ve developed a groundbreaking app that has the potential to make millions of dollars, you likely will have VCs highly interested in getting in on the ground floor.

For most small business owners seeking smaller amounts of funding (below $100,000), VCs won’t find the modest returns worth their investment.

Note that many VCs will want to be involved with your board if you have one. This takes some of your power away. Also, if the company doesn’t perform, VCs could vote for new leadership to run your business.

  • What Is a Seed Round?

    Many companies open a “seed round” of investments to raise money for early-stage expenses. This is your initial chance to find potential investors who can provide a large chunk of the funding you need.

    Usually, a seed round ends with businesses raising large amounts of money, albeit with a price. This option likely will require you to give up a good bit of equity in your business.

    Make sure you really need the amount of money you’re asking for and have the correct valuation for your business. The last thing you want to do is give up too much equity and not be able to reap the benefits of building a successful company.

A man, possibly an investor, reviews a report on a business’s growth as he sits in front of an open laptop.

Angel Investors

An angel investor typically is an individual who invests their own money into smaller, early-stage businesses.

If you’re searching for a single investor or 2 and don’t plan on opening your business to a full round of investments, angel investors might be your best option.

Angel investors don’t typically get very involved in the businesses they back, so you don’t have to worry about placing them on your company’s board.

How to Find Investors for Your Small Business

1. Attend ‘Demo’ or ‘Pitch’ Days

Demo days (or pitch days) get entrepreneurs in front of a group of investors looking to find the next big thing.

The structure of these days is a bit like the television show “Shark Tank”: Business owners pitch their ideas to a group of investors, who try to learn more about the company before setting up another meeting or negotiating the terms of a deal.

Many investment groups and startup incubators hold these events, so make sure to follow these organizations closely to find the next date.

  • Small business tip: Many investors venture to trade shows, industry conferences and similar gatherings. Attending these events could get you facetime with investors interested in backing businesses in your industry.

2. Go to Your Network

A simple way to find investors for your small business is to tap your existing connections.

Ask other business owners you know if they can introduce you to an investor they know or have worked with. Many angel investors will trust the word of someone they’ve worked with successfully. This increases the likelihood of a deal for your small business.

If you went to college, see if any alumni are able to help. Many are loyal to their school and fellow alums. They may help you find a business partner or investor when you need one.

Some colleges have created their own startup incubators and accelerators, designed to create a network of investors to help small businesses like yours find funding.

Your local chamber of commerce, industry organizations and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) all have connections. They may be a great resource to find investors looking specifically for businesses in your area or industry.

A small business owner chats with a potential investor.

3. Explore New Connections

Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands to find investors for a business.

There’s no guarantee, but you can find potential investors through cold-calling, emails or on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

If you know an investor’s background and what they’re looking for, you can narrow your search and improve your odds of finding success. Be personal and appeal to their sensibilities.

4. Use Online Resources

Crowdfunding

Online crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter offer a way to fund smaller projects and fill in funding gaps that other investors haven’t.

Kickstarter is product-driven, which allows you to offer the product itself as a reward for investing. This keeps the equity of your business in your hands.

Angel Investors and Syndicates

Other sites, such as AngelList Syndicates and FundersClub, allow you to find angel investors online.

Investors may act themselves or pool their money like a venture firm, having one lead take control of what’s called a “syndicate.”

Usually, these groups will want to meet with you in person at least once to vet your business. It’s common for them to offer convertible or SAFE notes when working with startups.

Mike McLeod Technical SEO Specialist at Fast Capital 360
Mike McLeod is a former senior SEO specialist at Fast Capital 360. He has a passion for giving small business owners, like you, the financial and strategic tools they need to realize the American dream.
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