How to Get Investment as a Woman Owned Business
*Cross posted from my blog at The Food Corridor.
The National Women’s Business Council reports that, on average, women start businesses with only half as much capital as men. Add to that the fact that securing capital investment in the food industry poses its own unique challenges and suddenly, becoming a female founder of a food startup doesn’t seem so enticing. But wait — there’s hope!
Initiatives like Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) are taking hold across the globe and we can be sure that for at least 1-day a year, female founders are celebrated and highlighted. WED launched in 2014 and as Forbes Magazine noted. Its purpose is “to mobilize a global network of female business owners, entrepreneurs and change makers who support and empower this community of women entrepreneurs and their businesses.” It was observed on Friday, November 18th of 2016. To learn more about this movement, click the link above and follow along on social media this November 30th, using the hashtag #choosewomen.
The Food Corridor just attended the La Cocina Food+Entrepreneurship Conference in San Francisco. To learn more about women and investing in the food industry, our Founder/CEO, Ashley Colpaart attended the appropriately timed session: How to Get Investment as a Woman-Owned Business. Her key learnings are summarized below:
Moderator: Mary Gassen (Noe Valley Bakery )
Females are different than males. Often times it is harder for us to sell ourselves. Being conservative and pragmatic doesn’t always excite investors, so try and think bigger and sell a vision that may be outside of your comfort zone. Focus on the things women are really good at: building relationships, community, and story-telling.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Resist the urge to wait to pitch your company until you have everything “figured out”. You will never be completely ready. The faster you get to start pitching your business the faster you will be able to change, grow, and pivot. Don’t become married to your original plan.
Know your stuff. Be ready to answer detailed questions about your business. Know industry speak (examples: velocity, ARR, PNL). Study your financial statements and know them in and out. This is your company. You have to own the numbers.
Get used to “no”. Research shows that you will need to ask 8–12 times before you get a “yes”. Keep asking in new ways. Keep showing progress. Keep trying. Raising money is a marathon, not a sprint. Always be raising.
Know your investors. Know investor criteria, ask lots of questions, get feedback every time someone says “no” and then retool your message. Talk to other founders that received money from the investor. What are they good at, or not so good at? What value can they provide besides funding? Introductions? Business expertise? Partnerships? Are they worth the effort? Are they the type of investors you want to work with?
Be careful with money. There is no room for mistakes. Build a culture of fiscal responsibility with clean books. Use investment dollars to grow your business. Never spend investment dollars to pay back loans or to pay yourself. You should be spending investment dollars on equipment to scale your process, staff, marketing, packaging revamps, launching new product lines, and working capital.
Always pay it forward and give first. Investors invest in people. Be confident and “kick butt”. Show results and we can all help to increase the investment dollar flow to women-owned businesses. Get it girl!
Cheers to the women pushing boundaries and moving the world of investment and food entrepreneurship forward.