What to say when you’re asking for money: 5 tips to help you secure business funding

Written By: Sarah Hashem, Director, National Client Relationships, Futurpreneur Canada

Congratulations, you’ve found the ideal funder for your start-up project! Now how do you get them to see your business as an ideal investment?

A pen filling out a cheque.

Start-up funders come in many shapes and sizes and, like your business, they too have a target demographic or theme—youth, innovation, IT, good credit, etc. These five tips can help your application receive a winning review, so you can get one step closer to receiving the business funding you need.

1) Describe yourself in their words.

A key to getting funders’ attention is to describe yourself using the same words they’re using. For example: If you’re applying for a youth fund, highlight the fact that you fall within their target age group. If you’re applying for an innovation fund, highlight the ground-breaking change deployed by your product. Shed light on the elements that meet their criteria – it’s a “pick me, pick me” strategy.

2) Tell them how you will advance their agenda.

Go a step further and tell the potential funder how you will help advance their agenda. Help them picture your business as a success story—if you were their poster child what would that poster say? It might help you to filter through the stories of their ambassadors. Take a look at the funder’s website, and the milestones and events they have celebrated with their past “success stories”. If your story fits the bill, make sure you illustrate that in your application.

3) Find the perfect length for your application.

Whether the application is a form online or a business plan, make sure you don’t say too little or too much. Good business ideas could be lost in a lengthy document or missed in too many graphs. Address application questions head on with clarity and precision, and skip all the fluff.

At first glance, the person evaluating your application will look for answers to their questions and you want to ensure they don’t have a hard time finding them. This information is easily obtained from most funders—all you need to do is ask. “What do I need to submit? Is there a page limit? Is there a deadline? What makes a strong application?”

4) Get your numbers right.

Nothing screams red flags like poorly projected financials that aren’t based on facts. If someone is asking you for money, wouldn’t you want to have confidence in their abilities to manage it? A poorly projected cash flow makes funders run away.

While everyone recognizes that projections are best “guesstimates”, make sure that you explain the rationales behind your numbers. While no one will hold you accountable for fifteen sales a day, they’ll be happy to know that you’ve accounted for seasonality, length of the sales cycle and special promotions to predict your monthly sales.

Need help with your cash flow? Visit Futurpreneur Canada’s free template here.

5) Take feedback with open arms.

You may not always get the answer you wish for but “no” seldom means “never”. Ask for feedback, check if you can apply again, and if all else fails ask for additional resources. People are likely to help you find what you need if you show gratitude for their time and feedback. At Futurpreneur Canada, we call that character, and it’s the most valuable asset you have as an entrepreneur.

About Futurpreneur Canada:

Futurpreneur Canada has been fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for nearly two decades. They are the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Our internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 2,700 volunteer mentors. For more information on Futurpreneur Canada’s programs, visit: www.futurpreneur.ca/get-started.