By Colbey Pfund, Co-Founder of LFNT Distribution.
My business has been lucky enough to position itself successfully -- we invest in various concepts and help see them through to fruition. But the tightrope we're constantly walking is how to know which idea is worth investing in. When I talk about investing, I don't just mean with money, but with time and resources. You don't want to pitch your friends a hundred ideas because you will sound like the boy who cried wolf. Save those relationships for the idea that is worth the investment.
There is so much to work through with a basic concept in hand; not only figuring out how it will disrupt the economy but the marketing, insurance, design and legal fees that go with it. Often, entrepreneurs need a little support.
For those seeking investments of any kind, you will want to distill your vision into a single, distinct elevator pitch that can be communicated in less than 30 seconds. To help put that together, ask yourself a series of questions, including:
- What problem does this fix?
- Who are the consumers/audience?
- Does the target consumer need this?
- Can the target consumer afford this?
Next, you're going to want to figure out the return on investment (ROI). This is used to evaluate an investment's effectiveness. When calculating ROI, divide the net profit by the total invested resources: ROI = (Net Profit)/(Invested Resources) x 100.
And you'll want to put together a business plan that includes -- among unit economics and many other things -- how investors will see a return for their money.
Once you have the basics defined, it's vitally important to consider what investors are looking for. Here are some things we look for when deciding which idea is worth investing in:
- How is it monetized?
- Where does that money come from?
- At what juncture will the investors see a return?
- What is the ROI potential?
- What are the margins?
- What is the competition?
- What will this do differently from its competition?
- Are there barriers to entry for future competition?
With a great elevator pitch prepared, an attractive ROI and answers that check all the boxes for what investors are looking for, your idea might look worthy of an investment on paper. However, there are more pieces to the puzzle that can set you apart from other entrepreneurs and help you along the way to securing an investment.
Are You Seeking Feedback?
Hemingway didn't edit his own books. Look for advice, perspective and feedback regularly from different professionals and walks of life. Everyone has an opinion, so keep in mind that it should all be taken with a grain of salt. When you start hearing the same response as a majority, however, this is significant and should be noted. If you ask 100 people about your idea and 70 of those people notice something repeatedly or have the same opinion, this is something you're going to want to spend more time thinking about.
Are You Maintaining the Spark?
I've found that maintaining the excitement from the inception of the idea throughout the investment process and beyond is integral. If your interest wanes, you'll be in an uphill battle as you attempt to fight against your own intuitions and boredom. The real motivation to see your idea through to its completion comes from within. You are your best proponent and you need undying faith in the idea.
One way to stay excited is by setting micro-goals -- giving yourself a sense of accomplishment along the journey. By doing so, you will be able to feel real progress. And when you feel you are willing to make big sacrifices to establish the business, you will know it's a business worth investing in.
If your idea is compelling and your passion shines through when discussing it, people will be drawn to help in any way they can. When the people who are willing to offer help are people who you respect and are acknowledged as being disruptors in the industry you are targeting, you may have a winning idea. Remember, passion breeds passion.
Are You Being Patient?
Interruptions in the process shouldn't be looked at as telltale signs that the idea is not possible or worth continuing. You must anticipate problems and disarm them. Many people come to a roadblock and often believe it's a dead end, but it should not discourage those with real gusto from finishing the race. After dismantling a problem, there is always going to be another one up ahead. This needs to be accepted before even beginning down the path of entrepreneurship.
Sometimes it takes time for others to realize the scope of an idea -- so even if you've already figured it out, you're going to need to take the time to convince others who aren't there yet. Be patient.
Colbey Pfund is Co-Founder of LFNT Distribution, a leading international distributor of premium eliquid.