Tips for securing investment for your social enterprise

Endless hours in front of a slide deck can get confusing – make sure to bounce your ideas off other people. Image: Unsplash

Get help and an outside perspective

It’s easy to become so familiar with your business that you almost forget what makes it stand out. After spending endless hours making your business viable, you can be forgiven for not being able to see the wood for the trees every once in a while.

So when you prepare your grant and loan applications, ask other people to read them. They might spot the thing you should be highlighting more – the thing that makes your business unique and worth investing in, but that feels ordinary to you after countless late nights.

If it’s someone close to you, they may also spot the thing you talk about all the time but haven’t put through the application – the so-called advertisement”.

Draw a parallel between you and beleaguered climatologists trying to explain the reality of climate change – you both know the details so well that communicating them to others can be a challenge. If it helps, imagine yourself being played by Leonardo Di Caprio or Jennifer Lawrence.

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Showcase yourself

As a small business, things are subject to change – and when they do, you will be what keeps them on track. While it’s important to make sure your business pitch is sparkling, don’t neglect your personal pitch. If investors think you’re a big fan, they’ll be put off. On the other hand, making yourself an attractive investment may be the thing to get a deal done.

And also, let people know you’re looking for an investment – ​​a little word of mouth can just attract the right people to you.

“You never know who in your network might want to get involved. And failing that, they might be able to introduce you to someone else who will. In my experience, people want to help, especially if there’s a social cause involved,” says Alice Lacey, CEO and co-founder of Now Press Play, a social enterprise that helps get kids involved in their program through the his.

Apply for all the social enterprise funding you can find, but be selective with what you accept

This is really just advice – you never know which application will be successful.

But only accept funding from places you think will support you. It can be madness to take money with prohibitive conditions. A higher investment offer can come with growth conditions that you might think are unsustainable and leave your business underdeveloped but too big, for example. Some investors may value different things for you, which could hurt you in the end.

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Remember that social enterprise funding comes in all shapes and sizes

As a social entrepreneur, you are fortunate to have several ways to obtain investment.

A range of grants are offered to social enterprises, and a host of loans are on offer.

Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of The Big Issue, offers social enterprises and charities a host of repayable funding options, ranging from £20,000 to £3 million.

You can also raise funds from angel investors, like any start-up.

Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Consider which source is right for you, but also the circumstances under which a particular funding source would work for you.

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