Some social entrepreneurs are lucky enough to get started without significant funding from a third party, but that’s rarely the case.
If you have big ambitions for your social enterprise and want to create a business where society profits, you’ll need some help from a financial perspective.
Investors are often unfairly seen as an onerous – even threatening – presence that loom over businesses, hands constantly outstretched, waiting for their return.
In reality, investors can be fantastic people to work with. Beyond their ability to inject financially, they might also offer acres of experience, know-how and an all-important shoulder to occasionally cry on.
They do come in several flavours, though, and in this blog, we’re going to look at five investor personas your social enterprise might encounter if it starts to look for funding.
1. The pro investor
Isn’t every investor ‘professional’, you ask? Well, technically, yes, of course, but the pro investor is someone or an organisation that spends one-hundred percent of their time investing.
It’s all they do – every day of every week. This usually means they’ll be very structured in their approach and incredibly clear about what it is they’re looking for.
The pro investor isn’t always easy to deal with, and this particular persona might come across as a little cold at times, but they might also offer the structure and financial nous your social enterprise needs.
2. The connected
These people may not necessarily be ‘in it’ to make an investment in your social enterprise, but they will have a super network of people that have the necessary funds.
It’s certainly worth getting to know people who are well-connected in your area. They’re likely to be very personable, highly knowledgeable and will almost always have someone on file who can assist you.
3. The in-and-out
There isn’t really such a thing as a ‘fire-and-forget’ investor; they all get involved in investment projects because they want a return.
However, the ‘in-and-out’ investor is a curious beast. They will want to make their money work hard and will probably have a significant portfolio of investments. For that reason, they might invest in your social enterprise only to seemingly move swiftly onto their next project.
You might never hear from them after that, too, but don’t assume they’ve taken their eye off the ball, or that they don’t care – because they do.
Such investors can feel overtly cold, but the lack of a “congratulations!” when your sales figures continue to sore doesn’t mean you should avoid keeping them abreast of what’s going on. Make sure the in-and-out investor is always fully in the know, and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a response. They’re taking note – trust us.
4. The friend
Some investors are in it purely for kicks. Usually people with plenty of wealth and a good amount of spare time, this persona could be considered a hobbyist investor.
These people will be approachable, easy to get along with and, if they take an interest in you and your social enterprise, will fast build an invaluable, genuine connection with everything you do.
Unfortunately, they may also be less structured than professional investors and might take up significant amounts of your time if they feel compelled to get involved at grassroots level.
If you come across an investor of this type, take time to get to know them, but set some clear goals you can both work towards, too.
5. The market-experienced
Imagine finding an investor within your niche who knows all about the market within which your social enterprise operates and has the financial backing to help you take it by storm.
Good news: these people exist, but they’re not always that easy to find. Spread your net far and wide in your market and make new connections; you might just discover an angel investor somewhere within your sector who would be utterly compelled by your social enterprise’s goal.
The list above certainly isn’t exhaustive, nor does it intend to pigeonhole investors. It simply comes from years of experience and a knowledge of dealing with such people.
Don’t be afraid of investors. Find the right one, and you’ll quickly discover that their only desire – beyond making that all-important return – is to help you take your social enterprise onto even greater heights.