Giles Phelps: Five Steps to Securing Investment and Realising Your Vision
Five years ago we had an idea: to become Wales’ best and brightest homegrown broadband provider. We wanted to create a full fibre service that was faster, greener, and more reliable than the traditional networks most of us had grown accustomed. But, as exciting and necessary as we thought our idea was, it was still just an idea. The best idea in the world will cease to evolve into much else if the vision, strategy and team aren’t in place to carry it from concept to delivery. Otherwise we’d all be doing it.
Fast forward to today and we’re on the cusp of realising our ambition. We’ve secured landmark funding from Infracapital, the infrastructure arm of M&G Plc and one of Europe’s leading infrastructure investors. We’re able to push forward with plans to invest over £200m in full fibre broadband infrastructure throughout Wales. We’re delivering that initial spark of an idea, connecting Welsh communities and transforming the digital landscape in the process. For those out there with a great idea they would like to turn into a reality through outside investment, here’s some thoughts on how to make it happen.
Create your business model
The first step, without which you’ll go no further, is to model how you aim to progress from your present to your future. Factor in every salient aspect of your business: what success looks like and how you will measure it; objectives and milestones to achieve that success; your strengths, and how you’ll leverage them; your weaknesses and how you’ll overcome them. Ultimately, your business model is all about painting as comprehensive a picture as possible of what your idea could become over the next three-to-five years. Write it from the perspective of that would-be investor, and don’t shy from the difficult questions. The reader needs to be able grasp, quickly, that with the right funding and guiding hand, you are a sure shot.
Speak the language of your future investors
You may have a sound business model, but investors will want to see more than that. Beyond revenue, they will be looking for environmental, social and governance (ESG) benefits, so it’s vital that you’re able to communicate your model in relation to these. Translating your model into what it could mean from an ESG perspective will help you understand it, and ultimately achieve it, much sooner, so it’s vital to bring a financial consultant on board who can communicate all of this numerically. With this done, raising funds will be a much easier and faster process.
Build the dream team
With a business model nailed down, and your financial future outlined, your next step is to bring together a team to deliver on it. When you enter discussions with an investor, they will undoubtedly look at the team around you and factor their capabilities, experience and ability to deliver in their decision to invest. So, whether it’s a HR whiz or a technical specialist, your future business model is only as good as those carrying it out. You need a team that’s confident, credible, and capable of delivering on your initial vision. Unfortunately, I see no end of CEOs and senior managers with no financial plan or dream team they can believe in, which is a huge turn off for would-be investors.
Once you have found your investor it’s important to keep them on board. Many businesses fall into the trap of embellishing achievements, feeding back on only the positive developments, or sacrificing their integrity to portray themselves as ‘successful’. This is a sure fire way to send your investor running. Remember that they’ve invested in your business as a whole – pitfalls and all – and will always appreciate the rocky truth over the rose tinted view. Besides, if they’re seasoned investors, they will know and appreciate that the road to success is rarely a straight line and almost always involves challenges to overcome.
Put in the work
Finally, the most crucial ingredient to your future success is good old hard work. How much hard work exactly depends on how successfully you’ve implemented the above, and how robust your final business model is. Either way, your workload is going to be prodigious and constant. Expect your investment to be phased: each phase will have its own milestones and outcomes, and you’ll need to demonstrate success to release the next phase of funding. You and your business are going to be under a watchful – but helpful – set of eyes. So everything you do from this point on is about delivery, consistency and hard work.