Launching your own business can be one of the most exciting times of your life. Indeed, having a great idea for a new product or service and sending it to the market can not only change your fortunes but your whole outlook and give you more freedom and control as a businessperson. But the truth is, unless you have some working capital, launching a business and successfully penetrating a market can be tough, especially if you’re working in a competitive industry.
One way that you can raise funds to pay for your development, marketing and expansion is through funding. Below, we speak exclusively to the founder of Biz Latin Hub, Craig Dempsey, about raising funds for your business and ensuring your new startup entity is a success.
Craig, tell us a little bit about your business…
Of course! I launched Biz Latin Hub in 2014 with British co-founder David Wright. Before I did so, I worked for the Australian military, where I was responsible for Maintenance Engineering, Project Construction and Project Management. After that, I transitioned into natural resources and worked in roles such as Senior Mine Operations Manager and Project Manager to much success. During my time in these roles, I worked in countries across Latin America, and I quickly realised just how huge the opportunities were for businesses in the Western world. Indeed, expanding into one of these countries unlocks a whole host of new revenue streams and allows brands to truly take their businesses global, and I knew I had to grab a slice of the action.
Biz Latin Hub offers a range of back-office services, from company formation and due diligence through to legal services and recruitment. We’ve been lucky enough to work with businesses like HubSpot, CargoJet, IFU and Macromill Group, and we’ve built our business from a single office to now having employees working in countries around Latin America. We’re also on the brink of opening new offices in Sydney, Australia and London, England, which is very exciting.
For entrepreneurs just starting out, what advice would you offer?
Just do it. Starting your own business takes a lot of hard work, and you may not get to where you want to be overnight. Even if you have the most unique business idea in the world and you think you’re head and shoulders above the competition, the truth is that you can’t predict how the general public is going to react to your business, and so time, patience and perseverance is critical. If you’re short-tempered or easily give up, an entrepreneurial lifestyle is not for you.
You should leverage your strengths and outsource the things you’re not good at, take advantage of technology to automate tasks and seek help from those who can do things better than you. Try to live fearlessly, know your numbers, focus on marketing, and get out of your own head.
Where is the best place to secure funding?
Funding is so important for startup businesses, so if you can’t secure funding on your own either through savings or by a business bank loan, you should consider speaking with businesses and investors to see if they might be interested in investing in your business. If you’re still in education, you could see if your university offers an entrepreneurial program which puts you in touch with local experts and investors. If not, then speak with your industry friends and see who can help. It may be that a friend or business contact may be interested in putting some money into your new company and become a business partner, so don’t overlook local connections.
You could also look online, using sites like AngelList, Microventures and even LinkedIn for finding angel investors. Crowdfunding could also be an option, where stakeholders can give you money to develop your product in exchange for perks, like the first version of your product, an exclusive Skype call with the founder, or something completely unique. Accelerator programs are also available around the world, and although well-known programs like YCombinator and TechStars are competitive and virtually impossible to gain access to, smaller accelerators are more accessible and offer seed investment in return for an equity stake in your business.
Should you consider international expansion?
If you’re concerned that you’re not going to be able to grow your business in your home country, or you’re worried that your country’s economy is on the downturn (because of something such as Brexit, for example), you may want to consider taking your idea to a new country entirely.
Indeed, there’s a risk involved in expanding internationally, but doing so can unlock a whole host of opportunities and allow you to access local funding. If you expand into the United States, for example, then you’ll be able to find Silicon Valley investors, whereas if you look to Latin America as an alternative, you’ll be able to tap into the territory’s dire need for green energy technology.
The good news is that you can get help if you’re looking to setup legal entity in a new country, which can take away the pressures of becoming a legally registered business. Such companies also offer other back-end business services, so even if you’re not au fait with the language or you’re struggling to find employees to work with you on your business venture, then you’ll have a local expert who is on hand to help you through the entire process and guide your business in the right direction. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new in a growing territory will no doubt be scary, but the results could pay off and allow you to not only secure your funding in a new country but become an established brand and take your business global.
Of course, with any business venture, you should weigh up your opportunity costs and return on investment to ensure you’re making the right decision. Choosing a market with low labour costs and a growing economy and middle class is perhaps the most sensible solution, so avoid markets that are saturated or competitive if you want to stand the best chances of success.