Believe it or not, a lot of entrepreneurs get investment from their customers and business partnerships that they have established. Although seldom discussed in the media, it's a natural occurrence
Be Careful with the Messaging
you do not want your customers & partners to think you're going out of business soon
- Call your customers & partners "just to see how things are going"
- Make sure you're speaking with decision makers (CEO, CFO, etc.)
- Make sure their happy with you
- In person is preferred and phone call is better than email in this instance
- You're looking for a conversation; not a transaction
- Don't pitch them unless asked
- Be relaxed and casually smile (even if you're on the phone - the intonation in your voice will help craft the tone of the conversation)
- After talking about them for a while, they will ask about you
- This is where you'll have to walk a thin line
- Phrase the effort as
- "Things are going really well. We're getting a lot of traction and we're actually beginning to seriously consider the prospect of opening an funding round to speed up product development & customer acquisition - did your company go through this stage?"
- Note that the above says "to speed up product development & customer acquisition"; it does not say "we can't pay our rent so we need funding". One implies you're looking to speed things up and become big; it's exciting. The latter is depressing.
- The goal is to open a dialogue. If you're speaking with a decision maker who's in a position to invest, they will likely bring it up themselves
- If they don't bring it up; make the call whether to inquire if they would be interested or if it makes more sense to ask for introductions
- If you're nervous and want to practice - work the above on your smallest clients as a dry run before tackling the real prospects