NextStage has officially been in business since 2001. We opened our Canadian offices in 2005 and recently opened our EU office in Brussels. One thing I’ve noticed to be true regardless of who we’re dealing with and where is that certain things need to be in place if you going after funding.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for management to fund an internal project, a consultancy looking for an internal champion to get your proposal funded, a startup talking to VCs and investors, … There are three (3) musts if your project is to be taken seriously by whatever management exists.
Rule 1: Timing
Get placed in the initial budget immediately and not as an afterthought.
Rule 1 is simple and probably obvious. As an afterthought (ha ha). It doesn’t matter what your funding source is or what your project or proposal is, you are more likely to get the funding you need if you get into the initial business budget (strategic business plan, forecast, whatever) as it’s being planned than if you’re added once the budget is in place.
Your chances of getting funded go up exponentially (well, kind of) if your project/proposal is added to the source’s budget within a day of your introducing it.
Ever put together a project/proposal that’s a killer and everyone agrees it is, then be told “Sorry, it’s not in the budget”. Well, now (I mean Q4) is the time to get placed in next year’s budgets because most companies spend Q4 writing up next year’s budget. Once you get personal buy-in (“I like it!”) make sure you follow up until you know you’ve got business buy-in (it’s written into the budget).
Rule 2: Top Dogging
Make sure you get face time with the real decision makers.
Rule 2 is equally simple and obvious only after you’ve banged against it a few times. Make sure your project/proposal/request is seen by the person who is really making the funding decisions. Does someone say “Let me show this to…and get back to you”? Then quickly respond “Good idea. When can I meet them to explain the details?”
I’m not suggesting you pooh-pooh the gatekeepers to power, only that you do your upmost to get your face (literally) in front of the real power, the top dogs, who will be okaying what you have to offer.
Last, obvious item here: Your face time will probably be limited. Prepare a good, tight, clear and concise business case for your funding.
Rule 3: Be Political
Keep lobbying for your project/proposal/funding even after you get it.
Rule 3 is where most people fail. This rule comes to me from a mentor who taught me formal logic. He learned it from his time in the army, “If you want something done, talk to everybody about it.”
Rule 3 goes like this; Keep lobbying for your project/proposal/funding ever when it’s accepted and approved. Get buy-in from internal competition. This way you’re project/proposal/funding is more likely to survive changes in management/decision structure.
“…internal competition”? Yes. Internal competition are the managers of other groups inside the company who are also lobbying the top dogs to fund their pet projects. Internal competition are the other gatekeepers in VC and investor communities that want their top dogs to fund their projects.
So once you’ve received your approvals make sure you start demonstrating your and your project’s value to your competitors. One can never have enough friends.
Three rules and they’re simple ones:
- Timing – Go after funding when people are planning to fund things
- Top Dogging – Make sure you and your project have executive buy-in
- Be Political – make friends and allies of everybody, even those who want your project out
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- Start with Thoughts on Building a Business, part 1 and continue, as you please
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