It’s all about the plan
Once you’ve sussed whether PledgeMe.Lend is right for your organisation and you’ve got your team on board and your crowd prepped, it’s time to knuckle down and get some plans in place.
Guess what. PledgeMe is here to help you do that too. During CrowdfundingU we’ll help you get all the information together and assist in clarifying and refining the messages to your crowd about why you’re borrowing and why they should invest. Having a plan really helps you and your team get on the same page around your strategy.
A lot of the information you’ll already have, and some of it will only need a little bit of tinkering to get ready. It’s really important you do have a plan though, your success depends on it.
Your Organisation Description
You’ll need a detailed description of your organisation to communicate to potential investors on your campaign page. A complete description should include the following:
- Your organisation: be creative in explaining what you do and how you do it.
- Your team: keep in mind that people invest in people! Let investors know who you really are. What are your superpowers? What is your vision for the organisation?
- Your growth funding needs: describe what you’ll be using the funding for, and how it will help your organisation grow.
- Your future plans: what’s the big ambition?
- Your key risks, and how you’ll mitigate them.
Your Current Financials and Forecast
People often base investment decisions on their analysis of an organisation’s financials. So they need access to key documents like your Cash Flow, Profit and Loss (P&L) and Balance Sheet.
To start a PledgeMe.Lend campaign we ask that you provide these documents about your organisation. It’s important that time periods are properly labelled and cover a minimum of three years (if it exists) and three years of future projections. All documents should follow the New Zealand GAAP accounting standards.
Your profit and loss statement will give a deeper insight into the operational performance and profitability of your organisation. It is important you structure it clearly to honestly represent the current state of your business. You are required to clearly state your revenue, costs and profitability, while distinguishing between direct costs and overheads. It’s useful for lenders to clearly identify your EBITDA* in the statement. These key metrics will be used by potential investors to compare and keep track of an organisation’s core performance.
Your current balance sheet is where your assets, liabilities and shareholder’s equity are broken down. The assets and liabilities section should be divided up in current (short-term) and long-term sections, with a total calculated at the end for both assets and liabilities. Remember it is important to include the new loan from the campaign in your forecasted liabilities. The amount of the loan that you’ll be repaying over the next 12 months will be a short-term and the rest of it a long-term liability. Use the rule of thumb of assets minus liabilities equalling shareholders equity to check if everything balances out.
Your cash flow projections need to show how your organisation will grow over the next three years and how you’ll generate the cash needed to repay your loan effectively. Make sure to include the proceeds raised from your crowdfunding campaign. You need to clearly show how much money you require to meet your goals, what those goals are and how you’re going to achieve them (now, next year, and in three years time). Remember to always include the cash flows from operating, investing and financing activities, as per normal standards.
Please remember to double-check any financial information you publish against your internal records to make sure everything is correct. Checking in with your accountant or financial advisor before submitting your campaign is strongly advised.
**EBITDA or Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amoritisation is essentially net income with interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization added back to it. It’s widely used to analyse the profitability and leverage of a particular organisation compared to other companies and organisations across different industries and spaces.
Your Business Plan
Having a clear business plan is a critical part of communicating your organisation’s values and goals to your crowd.
Your business plan should include information about the problem you are solving and what you have achieved to date, any research you have done, the management structure, high level financial budgets, and your goals for the future.
Transparency about your organisation’s inner workings is the first step in building trust and a great communication channel with your lenders. Consider sharing your business plans with your advisors (e.g. accountants, mentors, or people in your crowd) to get feedback and advice. Don’t be afraid to put some of your organisation’s personality into this showcase document.
Your business plan can take many forms. They don’t all need to be a swish glossy magazine. If you want to make it stand out that’s great, but the main point of the business plan here is to clearly convey information about your business to investors, so keeping it simple is a good idea. We’ll need an electronic version, in pdf format, to put up on your PledgeMe campaign.
Need help creating a business plan?
Check out the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s Business Plan Template on their website, and our template Business Plan in Google Docs.
Planning the characteristics of your loan
Your Minimum and Maximum Funding Goals
Picking your funding goal is the next step. Think about how much you want to raise and how much debt you feel confident about being able to pay back (as well as the interest that you’ll be paying — see below).
Find the balance between what you need and what you are capable of repaying. The minimum goal should be the bare minimum you need to do what it is you need to do. The maximum goal should sit below the highest level that you believe you can repay comfortably. You can set the minimum and max to be the same if you only need a very specific amount but having a gap between the two allows you shoot for the next level of commitment from your crowd.
Over-leveraging (borrowing too much) can put you under pressure. Remember that your organisation is going to have to create significant value and generate enough money over the length of the loan to repay your lenders with interest.
Your Interest Rate
Figuring out what interest rate you can offer potential lenders is a balancing act. It’s a mixture of what you can afford to give away (based on what future interest cost you could cover with your future profit) and what rate will entice lenders, rewarding them for the risk they take by investing in you. The sweet spot is somewhere between your wants and your lenders’ wants.
Having an idea of what your offer is competing against will give you some food for thought on what you should offer.
Here’s a quick run through of typical interest rates for different types of investment to give you an idea of what you could offer to investors:
|Type of Investment||General interest Rate|
|NZ Government bond||~2-4%|
|NZ public company bond||~3-6%|
|Shares in public company||~7% annual return|
|Bank loan (secured)||~5-8%|
|Bank loan (unsecured)||~10-15%|
|International crowdlending average||~10%|
An 8% to 15% range could be the sweet spot for your loan.
Ultimately the decision is up to you. So choose wisely young crowdfunder.
Once you set an interest rate and your campaign goes live, it is fixed. You cannot change it.
Your loan length and repayment frequency
Many factors will influence the length of time it will take you to repay the loan.
Some things to consider when setting the term:
- How long will you be using the capital raised for?
- Will you be investing in assets that provide an immediate and steady flow of cash back to your organisation?
- How quickly will the loan enable you to grow?
- Do you plan to pay it back gradually or do you forecast some big lumpy inflows of cash as a result of it?
- Are you using the loan to bridge a gap between bigger capital raises?
All of these questions will help you put your finger on how long you should borrow for.
One to five years are the usual time frames for PledgeMe loans. Although you can repay your loan at any time without any penalty.
Repaying gradually over time reduces the actual amount of loan interest that you’ll pay. We encourage borrowers to make a choice to repay as frequently as possible for them so that they can form good financial habits. Monthly repayments are the usual frequency for PledgeMe loans.
PledgeMe.Lend loans are repaid gradually over time — they are what’s known as “fully amortising”. At every repayment date you’ll pay lenders interest on the principal that is outstanding plus a chunk of principal.
It works just like the way a mortgage does. The repayment amount stays the same over time. Your repayments will be mainly made up of interest at the beginning but this will reduce as the interest will be calculated on a steadily decreasing amount of principal as it repays over the life of the loan. The interest portion of your repayments decreases over time as the principal payment increases by an equal amount.
Your loan amount, interest rate, loan length and repayment frequency are the factors that impact your constant repayment amount. Have a play around here to see what combination of factors works best for you.
No one is going to invest in your organisation if they don’t know you’re borrowing.
You’ve got to have a good plan in place to communicate to your crowd, and other potential lenders, that you’re issuing a loan and it’s happening now. Your plan should map out what you’re going to say, where you’re going to say it, and when you’re going to say it.
Formulate some key messages you want to get across about your campaign. Key things you should be able to answer off the top of your head in a quick and clear way are:
- Why are you raising the money?
- What is it going to be used for?
- Why should people invest?
The first point of contact should be your existing communications channels: your website, newsletter, and social media. Warm-up your crowd by letting them know what’s coming so they can save their dollars and be ready to invest.
Mainstream media coverage is always good at boosting your profile. Get a press release ready and make sure it’s clear and concise and figure out who the best journalists to contact are.
Your local papers may be interested in your campaign, the business sections of the major papers might be too. Are there any sector publications which write about your area of work that you could pitch a story to?
Use this template to start pull together your plan.
Could you bring things into the real world and have an event — like a launch party — where you can get your First 50 and others into a room and get them energised about investing in your organisation. Be creative and, most of all, have fun.
The idea is to make sure people know you’re raising capital, not to spam them with desperate pleas for investment.
Plan out what you’re going to do before, during, and after the launch of your campaign so you can keep it consistent and on message.
For a press release template check out this document.
Things to Consider
- How many people can you reach through your existing communications channels?
- Where do your crowd get their information from?
- What are the key points you want to get across?
- Make sure you have consistent (but not annoying) communications. What kind of information will you convey during your campaign?
Some people love spreadsheets. You may not be one of them, but by the end of CrowdfundingU you may well just be. We have a template campaign plan that encompasses all the key steps from business plan, to communications plan, that you’ll need to take during your campaign.
During CrowdfundingU we’ll help you fill this out, so you have a solid plan in place for the campaign.
If you’re more of a to-do list fan, then Trello is the tool for you! It’s a free web-based project management platform that supports collaborative teams.
We’ve created a board template that you can copy and privately use with your team in two clicks!
Feel free to use this Trello template board. Click “Menu” and “Copy Board” to use it privately.
What PledgeMe can help with?
Begin as you mean to go on. Successful campaigns are built on powerful plans. Our CrowdfundingU programme will take you through particularly daunting aspects of your plan so you feel confident in your campaign. We’ll cover things like
Understanding what effective communication looks and sounds like and taking the initial steps to start identifying and rallying your crowd.
How to write a Press Release, and connect and talk to media.
We have a great understanding of how crowdfunding can be communicated to your crowd. Let us help you walk through how best to do that.