One of the most common questions asked by women business owners looking for funding is, “How can I secure an angel investor?” It’s true that it’s not easy to find angel investors, let alone seal the deal. It’s especially hard for women. In a 2018 report by Fortune magazine, a mere 2.2% of all venture capital went to women-owned businesses. But there are ways that you, as a female business owner, can secure an angel investor.
1. Leverage Your Network
This is the number one way to secure an angel investor for women-owned businesses. Presumably, as a woman you’ve connected with other female entrepreneurs at seminars, meetups, and other similar events. Now that you’re in a position where you need help, having that network in place is literally going to pay off for you.
The fact is, most angel investors have their own agendas and interests. Angel investors tend to invest in people and companies that match those interests. It stands to reason that if someone in your network—a woman business owner—has an angel investor, that same investor might also be interested in investing in your business. Lots of angel investors also network with business owners who match the investor’s interests. So it’s also possible that someone in your network is already an angel investor looking for opportunities.
Don’t be hesitant about vocalizing your search for an angel investor within your network. You might hear back directly from an investor or you might get a lead from a colleague who knows an angel investor looking for opportunities just like the kind you’re offering.
This is the time to increase your presence at virtual network events. Get out your contact list and reconnect with everyone you’ve met in your industry. Update people as to your growth plans and ask for warm introductions to potential investors. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help if you just ask. Just remember to return the favors later on when you’re in a position to help members of your network.
2. Apply to an Accelerator School
As a strong female business owner, you already know a thing or two about how to succeed. But there’s always something new to learn, and an accelerator program might just give you something else you need – an angel investor. If you’ve never heard of an accelerator school, you’re going to want to pay attention. An accelerator school is an intense focus learning environment specifically designed to help business owners just like you. Whether you’re just starting out and trying to figure out how to bootstrap an idea or you’re stuck somewhere and need some inspiration and ideas for growing your business past a certain point; an accelerator school can help.
There are over 400 accelerator schools in the U.S. alone. But you have to apply. Acceptance is not automatic and space is limited. You also have to consider where the school is located if you’re needed at your business location on a routine basis. So if you choose to go down this path, get your application in as soon as possible.
Go where the money is. The key thing about accelerator schools is that they attract angel investors. So you will have an opportunity – not just to learn new ways to grow your business – but to present to actual angel investors who are actively seeking new investment opportunities. Essentially, accelerator schools are like a matchmaker, putting business owners in front of the money people.
3. Listen and Learn
Whether you’re mingling with members of your network or with potential angel investors, pay attention to what people are saying. Although it can be hard to hear critiques about your business, it’s important to listen and learn. Angel investors tend to be very experienced and opinionated – and they aren’t afraid to voice criticisms about what they see as flaws or potential risks.
You’ll get a lot further with an angel investor by carefully listening and accepting what they have to say than you will by defending your business. If all the potential investor hears from you are excuses, it’s unlikely they’ll see you as someone they can work with.
Ultimately, partnering with an angel investor is entering into a trust relationship. The investors needs to trust that you’re dutiful and reliable and trustworthy, but they also need to know they can entrust you with their money.
These days, being a woman business owner doesn’t mean what it used to. There have been blocks to success that have been removed by female predecessors. You most likely don’t have to worry about being taken seriously as a female business owner unless you’re perceived as being defensive. So the more open you are to constructive criticism, the more any investor will want to do business with you and want to invest in your company. Listening, learning and coming across as being open to new ideas is one of the ways that will help you to secure an angel investor.
4. Seek Out Women Investors
Women investors are a growing number. More and more successful women are choosing to become angel investors to other women-owned businesses. It stands to reason that another woman will be more sympathetic to your causes than someone with whom you have zero in common.
So how do you find female angel investors? One such place is Golden Seeds, an online funding resource that focuses on women-owned businesses. There are many others and a search online with the right keywords will yield many results.
Another way to find women investors is to leverage LinkedIn. Just follow a few simple steps and you should come up with a useful list of potential angel investors. The suggested steps to take are to set up an accurate and impressive profile for you and one for your company. Next, use strategic keywords to find investors who might be interested in your industry. Message those investors with a cordial greeting without pitching to them. Once connected, let them know that you have investment opportunities in your industry, which is the same industry that you’ve already ascertained they are also interested. If you get a positive response, that’s your chance to ask if they would like more information. Alternatively, you could invite them to a Zoom chat or an in-person coffee if they’re local. The point is to seek out investors with something in common with you and the strongest commonality is that you are both women.
5. Know Your Numbers
Finally, when it’s time for you to pitch to one or more angel investors, be prepared. In the business world, being prepared means knowing your numbers. Angel investors tend to be people who are very business-savvy. They’ve either got lots of experience helping other business owners or they come from a successful business background themselves. It stands to reason that they are likely to be very picky about your getting the numbers right. They may ask such specific questions about your finances that you wonder why they thought to ask. In fact, some of the trickiest questions aren’t meant to confuse the business owner, but to see if they truly do know their numbers. Some unusual questions to expect include:
- What was the smallest sale you ever made?
- How much profit is your vendor making from your business?
- How much does this tiny part on your product cost to make?
- What’s the average percentage your company has grown over all the years you’ve been in business?
- How much rent are you paying for your premises?
- How much do you pay out in employee benefits every month?
An angel investor will grill you with questions about your numbers until they’re satisfied you’re on top of things. Because otherwise, how can they be sure you’ll handle their money properly? One great way to prepare is to sit down with your bookkeeper or accountant and have them drill you on the numbers as practice for the real thing. If you do all that, you’ll have all your numbers memorized and your angel investor pitch is sure to be a success!
Don’t wait for the opportunity. CREATE IT! There’s absolutely no reason to think that you can’t get an angel investor to work with your woman-owned business. No one is saying it will be easy, but if you’ve made it thus far, you’re already used to hard work and perseverance. Just follow the advice above and you’ll be well on your way to securing the funding you need to take your business to the next level.