Being a financial analyst gave me the opportunity to relate with several entrepreneurs – some of whom I met during my undergraduate days at OAU (of the Greatest Ife!).
They all have one common problem – lack of funds to expand their respective businesses.
Please note that this article is not about me giving you money. However, one of my future goals is to set up a Private Equity firm alongside other partners and invest pooled funds in SMEs across Africa.
Until then, let us just focus on why small businesses are unable to access available funds.
To make this article as captivating as possible, I will assign three consecutive tasks to you and implore you to carry them out. If possible as you complete these tasks and take notes, new ideas may drop on your mind.
Task One – Imagination
If you are a business owner, or you hope to start a business someday, I want you to picture this, as broad as you can.[Insert the name of your business or business idea] as something you are proud of, a brand that transcends one country, something your unborn generation will bless you for, a trailblazer in its industry, and all the other good stuff you can possibly picture it to be.
Task Two – Reflection
Assume you are one hundred percent sure that task one will become a reality.
Then reflect on the possible factors (financial or non-financial – for example, regulatory, social, environmental, etc.) that could hinder your reality or drop the level of certainty to a much lower percentage.
That is enough!
Task Three – Reality Check
Ask yourself these few questions, especially if the factor from task two is a financial factor.
However, let me quickly inform you that there are several financial aids or grants, which are exclusively available to SMEs.
You just need to look in the right places and meet the requirements (if any).
Back to the questions…Ask yourself
- Why am I unable to access the funds required to give my business (or business idea) the boost it deserves?
- Why do financial institutions, investors (or even friends and family) turn me down when I approach them for funds?
You don’t have to sweat if you have no answers.
A few weeks ago, I carried out research on these questions, with potential investors, business owners, finance practitioners and other informed persons as my respondents. If you are one of them and you are reading this, THANK YOU.
Most of their answers centered on the following:
- Lack of integrity: I know this is probably an underrated reason, but 80% of my respondents referenced this. Your lack of integrity could cover these areas:
- If you divert the money you get to personal matters other than your business.
- Do you over-promise the potential investors an unrealistic return on investment (ROI)?
- Do you keep two sets of financial records – one for tax purpose (to evade taxes) and the other for the true picture of the business, and so on? The list is endless.
Most investors have been in the business of financing for long. They would have done their due diligence.
If you give potential investors any reason to doubt your integrity, you can as well wave their financial aid goodbye!
Just so you know, even a devious investor does not want to invest in a dubious person or business.
2. Inability to sell yourself and your business appropriately: This may sound cliché, but it is also a major reason.
If you are unable to convince me to invest in your business, how on Earth do you think I will give you my money on my own volition?
Is your business plan compelling? Or is it over-optimistic? Please note that over-optimism is not a bad trait.
However, this is business, and money is involved, so, you need to prove to the potential investor that you have done your homework or research.
3. Lack of business management skill or experience: Most of us want to be our own boss – fair enough.
However, if you do not know how to manage a business, if you have not worked under someone before, if you have not undergone any training or if you come off as an incompetent person when it comes to that business and how you talk about it, then you limit your chances of getting funds or capital from potential investors.
A final take-home
You claim you need capital for your business. Fine!
If a potential investor asks how much you need to expand your business to “xyz” level; will you be able to respond with an amount (or a range) on the spot?
As an entrepreneur, you should have an elevator pitch about your business and a summary of what you would do with the money assuming you had immediate access to it.
Do you know why some businesses are not getting the funding they need? Please share with us.