It is imperative that developers ‘know their numbers’. The first document I assess when looking at a new development project is the financial appraisal. It is very common for simple errors to be made up front which can turn a project from being very profitable to loss making. Common miscalculations could be; excluding VAT on construction costs, not including a marketing budget, service charge costs and over optimistic hopes on the sales value of the units or speed at which they will be sold. A solid and detailed financial appraisal can be a very important sales tool when presenting the deal to a lender, as it can demonstrate the developer’s in-depth knowledge and time they have taken to assess the proposed project.
Assuming the numbers all stack up and the project looks strong, the next focus is on the team. If you secure a site at an excellent price and on paper the deal is fantastic, there are still no guarantees it will be a success. Procuring the right team to deliver each stage of the process is vital. I cannot stress how important this is and how much carefully considered appointments can add value, ensuring that not only the price is right for the construction costs but the team has the right level of experience to ensure the costs and timeframe are realistic and achievable.
Build your business and continuously reinvest the monies made, hold fire on the luxury cars and expenditure until you are firmly established, suppliers paid and making profit, at which stage seriously consider, do I need funding or can the business fund its self?
If you are looking at rapid expansion and the business is growing faster than you can fund, then funding may be the answer, be sure to do your home work, don’t sell shares in the company if you are going to live to regret or begrudge it. Work hard and enjoy the rewards
Consider if you actually require it. I much prefer to focus on growing a real, profitable business than to throw funding at a concept or early-stage idea. For this reason, I’m a huge fan of bootstrapping. Money only amplifies what you have, so if you don’t have much by the way of substance, funding won’t help you! Ignore the trend of chasing funding as the ultimate goal, focus on building something real, and only add funding as/when you absolutely need to, to sustain scaling.
Its a culmination of one many items, rolled into one point, all of which centre around the founders of the entity. I believe it is “commitment”. If you know your company, understand its goals, believe in your product, understand your marketplace: are you, and have you committed yourself to its success?
If you look at the entrepreneurs who have made fortunes in the last decade, the common theme is they were/are committed to what they were doing? Their belief becomes infectious, funders find it a lot easier to support founders they also believe in.
My advice is many will turn you away, some will say Outright no, some will want to charge you way too much, they don’t believe in your dreams and ambitions. However, keep trying , keep pushing, adjust your approach from lessons learned from the non believers, there is always a solution out there if you truly believe your dreams and have the passion and ambition to succeed.
To have both the money you need and the job you want, you have to be creative and flexible so first things first:
1-Create a vision, ethos, culture and detailed business plan before starting a business… think through values, abilities and skills you are looking to build in your business(in that order).
2-Research, research, research, speak to entrepreneurs who started a business, speak to different banks and organisations (knowledge is power), seek advice and listen prior to any decision.
3-Be crystal clear on what the deal is, to start a good business relationship, you must be clear about what the quid pro quo is, what is generous, what is fair, etc.
4- Don’t ask for too little funding — or too much. Back to point number two, do your research and take time doing it, it will save you so much time later and will make you profit too. Energy and time are money.
5-Dip into your savings, if you don’t invest in yourself no one will. Learn to take calculated risks, no business is risk free but most importantly understand it and how will it effect you in the long run.
6- Be ready to hear no, you will need to commit to the suffering that is required to push your ideas to fruition, not just the willingness but a commitment with an open heart and a smile. If the door doesn’t open, change the key but don’t leave the door behind.
7-Look for a strategic partner, its very important to tackle the business from a different angle, each partner should bring something different to the table.
Most important, have fun, enjoy the journey and never give up.
My single piece of wisdom comes in a varied form…. setting up a business can be treated like a game…. have fun, take risks, try and win but most of all, the rules of the game are there to be challenged… that’s how we become the game changers…. but don’t take it or yourself too seriously, you have also got the game of life to consider!!!
The worst thing you can do is raise money for a subsidised business model, where you’re taking a loss during the early and growth phases to simply get subscriber volume. Everyone would buy a $1 coin for 50 cents when given the option.
You need to demonstrate how you can transition from a subsidised model to a sustainable one as soon as possible, focusing on fundamental business metrics.
Clarity of vision , understanding the size of the real opportunity , mitigating the key risks – (both financial and operational together) highlighting the reason that you are best to deliver the vision and that you have the energy and enthusiasm and focus to deliver in a ever changing world.
Recognise that it’s going to take far longer than you ever imagined. It took us a year. Even raising a bank loan can easily take 3 months. This is not just a single experience, I have been on the ‘other side’ making over 300 investments over a 30 year period and it ALWAYS takes longer than you imagine.
You will be expecting the funders to be as keen as you are and to respond quickly but many VC’s only make a few investments a year and it doesn’t matter much to them if you miss important opportunities. If you can’t cope with an extended process then don’t bother to try because it could get you into a worse mess and force you to accept very unattractive terms.
I suggest that you ask to speak to one or two businesses that they have already invested in. Find out how many deals they did in the past year and ask a few of them how long the process took. While you are asking find out if the founder is still working in the business – you will be surprised how many have been replaced.
There is more funding available than most people realise. Mostly offered on a conditional basis, and there are more grants available for innovative businesses than people are generally aware.
One key area that is overlooked time and again is that in the process of ‘being’ innovative, they are often incurring R&D qualifying costs. They do not appreciate that this activity might incur a cash rebate from HMRC whether they are in profit or not!
Gathering the expertise of others when you are starting a project is fundamental towards success, we can’t be expected to know everything, so don’t try.
Respect your investors by telling them the truth, always. If you keep investors informed and keep asking their advice, they will help you when the going is tough and be your unpaid advocates when it’s going well.
It would be two pieces of wisdom (just to be a typical “do it differently” entrepreneur).
The first one, “Persistence is the key”, never give up, but also don’t necessarily blindly stumble around making the same mistakes. Iterate your approach slightly each time as you persist.
The second, always go with your instinct. Take on board other’s advice but ultimately, always go with what you personally think is the right thing to do – that’s the beauty of having your own business. You decide how you fail or succeed.