In business, the old adage often still rings true: it’s not what you know; it’s who you know, I am sure that we have heard that in just about every entrepreneur story we have heard. When you’re looking to find people to back you, whether it’s a sponsor for your MBA or funding for your new business venture, relationships matter, this is the basis I believe of all entrepreneurship courses. Your personal brand is what will get people to buy into you before they buy into your idea. How then, do you become “backable” and what is my advice as an entrepreneur?
1. Back yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself or your idea, you’re not going to be able to convince anyone else. Self-confidence takes time to develop, but start with thinking about what makes you special – what is it that sets you apart from someone else with the same experience and qualifications? This is the foundational step in building a successful personal brand that others will want to invest in. Identify what makes you unique and differentiates you from your competitors. Develop your unique selling proposition (USP).
2. Spend time developing your personal brand as well as your cause, business or idea. Before you spend time on your business case or proposition for a potential backer, make sure that you’ve developed a strong personal brand. That’s the first sell – the pitch is actually the second one.
3. Identify why your goal is meaningful. People are more likely to back you if your objective is not purely self-centered, but serves a higher purpose or cause. You’re also more likely to persevere if you believe that your goal will benefit others too, whether your goal is studying further to be able to provide better for your family, or developing a business that doesn’t just make money, but also makes a difference.
4. Work on your powers of persuasion. I don’t mean studying up on sales tips (although that may well help you). I mean that others will invest in you if you are compelling – if you have clarity about your goals, what you can deliver and where you can add value. When given the opportunity to share about your plans and hopes, you should be able to make a simple, convincing case because you know exactly what you want to communicate, rather than waffling and missing the key points.
5. Prove your trustworthiness. People choose to back individuals that they trust, and trust is earned through consistency and continual excellence in delivery. Nobody will invest in someone who has a track record of letting people down and failing to deliver on promises. If you want others to back you, make sure you have a history of being a good investment.