| Contributor

When most people want to launch a startup, the first thing they think of is getting investors. 

Truth be told, not every company needs an investor.  In fact, I’m a firm believer in bootstrapping — using your own funds to build out a product — at least to start.  Once you’ve bootstrapped your idea into existence and proven that the concept has some real potential, you can start looking for investors.

But just because you can look for investors doesn’t mean you should.  You should only be seeking outside investment if and only if money will solve specific problems or grow the company faster. With investing, money is a lever — not a life boat.

But if investing is something you are confident that you need to take your business to the next level, here are 10 ways to make yourself and your company a more attractive investment:

1.  Know The Problem

Make sure you know the problem better than you know your proposed solution.  This shows you have a deep insight into the mind of your target market and even if your solution doesn’t hit it out of the park on the first try, you’ll be able to pivot until you win.

2.  Be Decisive

Nothing turns investors away more than a leader that can’t decide.  Make a decision, stick with it long enough to give it a chance to prove itself and move on.  As the saying goes: “Be quick to decide, slow to change your mind.”

3.  Know The Competition

You should know the people you’re competing with. Know their strategies and make sure yours is better or different.  Not every industry is a zero-sum game and even with direct competition, most companies can thrive together.

4.  Take The Pole Position

Have a clearly defined position in the market, and be at the front of it.  You can be the most accessible or the most exclusive.  The do it yourself solution or the done-for-you solution.  There are plenty of ways to position your company, just make sure you have one and own it in the market.

5.  Know Your Numbers

Know your key metrics and put them front and center in your pitch deck.

Shark Tank kills people for messing this up.  Even though investor meetings are hardly like the hit TV show, this reigns true anytime you want to ask someone for money.

6.  Go For The BIG Wins

Make sure you’re only focusing on specific things that move the needle the most.  If there is a specific feature that gets 80 percent of your daily users excited, make it the best it can be.  If you have a pet project that customers don’t seem to care about, perhaps you should rethink its importance.  Most importantly, know why these things are your biggest drivers and make sure your potential investors know it too.

7.  Surround Yourself With Experts

Being surrounded by great people is always solid advice.  In this case, have an advisory board filled with mentors, coaches, consultants and advisors.  It doesn’t matter if its formal or informal, but just having one shows that you’re aware that you don’t know it all and have people that can help you see the bigger picture.

8.  Be Accessible

If someone wants to invest in you, they should be able to find you when they search.  Make sure you have an attractive website with contact info.  Tools like Angel List, Crunch Base and Unicorn should all be used to make sure you have some eyes on you and, with an app like Unicorn (think Tinder crossed with Angel List,) this is easier than ever.

In all of your public profiles, make your founding team, your product, your tech and your positioning clear and highlight all of their unique strengths.

9.  Get In The Spotlight

Have your company, or you as a founder, visible to investors in a more authoritative sense.  Wherever your investors are reading, you should be mentioned.  The goal would be to publish an editorial or have an article mentioned you or your company.  Wherever your investors read, you want to get people talking about you, your company and the problems you solve. 

10.  Stay On Top Of Your Game

It’s critically important to know as much about your industry and your target market as possible.  If you’re looking to build an app for the first time, make sure you know how to build one.  If you want to grow your SaaS product, make sure you’re well connected with your users.  If you’re looking to launch a new brand, get connected to the relevant influencers.  

It’s up to you to know the latest trends, know the state of the industry and have an educated guess about where it will go.

Once you get your pitch deck in front of prospective investors, you’ll be as valuable as possible and hopefully close some seriously favorable terms.

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