The strategic decision between nurturing organic growth versus expedited expansion with external investment can be a critical crossroads in the changing environment of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). This decision is influenced by a number of criteria, including the company’s stage of development, growth potential, and financial requirements.

Selecting the Appropriate Stage for External Investment

Seeking outside investors is a strategic step for SMEs that should be properly timed. It makes sense only after the company has gained market validation and traction. This could be a solid and growing client base; multiple, reliable revenue sources; both of which are a measure of your brand’s relevance to its target audience. Another triggering factor is having a unique, protectible value offer that has struck a chord with the target demographic, also known as “differentiation.”. Furthermore, if the business model is poised for rapid expansion and requires significant financial infusion to power scaling, external investment becomes a viable choice.

Influence Factors on Investor Interest

External investors carefully assess numerous crucial aspects when deciding where and how much to invest. Investors first evaluate the potential market size and growth direction. A large and expanding market implies significant revenue prospects. The caliber of the management staff is also critical. Investors look for proof of a capable and dedicated workforce with the abilities and knowledge to properly execute the company plan.

Furthermore, differentiation and scalability are important factors in investment decisions. A distinct value proposition that distinguishes the company from competitors might pique the interest of investors. Another crucial criterion is scalability, which indicates the potential for quick expansion and capturing a considerable market share. Investors look for signals of client acceptance and revenue growth as measures of market demand when evaluating a company’s traction. Finally, the possibility of a profitable exit is an important factor for investors seeking to understand how they may eventually earn a return on their investment.

How to Navigate Investment Amounts and Equity Shares

A complex negotiation procedure is required to determine the investment amount and the matching equity split. A foundational starting point is business valuation, which is frequently examined using multiple approaches such as market comparables and discounted cash flows. Typically, the investment quantity corresponds to the capital required for expansion. The equity portion is then computed depending on the amount invested and the post-money valuation. Valuation service providers exist in Vietnam, sometimes calling themselves “business appraisers.”

Negotiation entails both parties discussing their expectations, risks, and contributions. You’ll want to seek an investor in the category the industry calls “smart money” meaning the investor brings more than money, e.g. their network, access to distributors, etc., but be prepared for them to bargain hard for this value by taking more equity. It is critical to strike a balance between collecting sufficient finance for expansion and preserving a suitable ownership stake. To ensure clarity and fairness, professional legal and financial specialists must be engaged in formalizing the terms of the agreement, establishing escrow services, and other risk-management details during the investment process.

In summary, for SMEs, the decision between organic growth and expedited expansion through external investment is a milestone moment in the life of your business. Timing, validation, market potential, and negotiation all play a significant role in determining the right path forward. SMEs may negotiate this key juncture with careful analysis and smart preparation to accelerate their growth journey.

For tips on finding potential investors, start with a law firm. Not only do they have a network, they will have a personal approach to matching you to the right kind of “smart money” for your business type; also look into local “angel investor” groups and ask if you can pitch at one of their monthly meetings. One of your customers might be interested, especially if they are big fans of the business and want to help it succeed. 

Final Thoughts

There’s a famous ad in the US where the CEO says about a product, “I liked it so much, I bought the company”. Don’t forget another option is to sell 100% of the company and open something new, and there are marketplaces for buying and selling businesses in Vietnam.

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
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