What to Look for When Investing in a Business

What to look for when investing in a business

What to Look for When Investing in a Business

Especially for first-time investors, it can be a scary plunge to start investing your money in other business endeavors. It could pay off big for you, but there is also always the risk of losing everything you put in. While it’s never a guarantee, the more research you put into the company before investing can help mitigate your risks. Here are five critical areas to investigate when you are considering investing your money in a company.

Management Team

Having a solid and experienced management team in place can make or break a company. Especially look at the CEO or President. Most growth funders want to see a management team that is cohesive with a strong (not arrogant) CEO at the helm. Look for a team that has worked together on other projects or has been together for a long time. Keep a wary eye out for backbiting or strife between team members. You’re looking for a team that can put aside their egos and work together to achieve the common goal of making the company successful.

This may sound cheesy but look for a CEO that you can connect with. This usually means at least a phone or teleconference with the CEO or perhaps an in-person meeting. Generally speaking, investing in a company means you are becoming a business partner (if you are getting stock in exchange for your investment) so it is essential that you know you can communicate and have some of the same values and vision.

Market Opportunities

No matter how fantastic the idea, if the market isn’t big enough you probably won’t get a significant return on your investment. The market for the product or service needs to be big enough for the company to have substantial room to grow. Usually, this means the company has national or even international potential. Ask questions and research the opportunity for market growth. Understand who the competitors are in the current market and what it is going to take to increase market share.

Growth and Risk

Alongside considering where a company can grow in the future, it is also vital to make sure the infrastructure is there for the future growth. It can be very risky to grow too quickly without the right foundation in place. Ask questions to understand how well the management team has considered the growth potential and the steps needed to mitigate the risk of growing too quickly. Look to make sure the team has thought through and set the right pieces in place to support rapid growth.

Exit Strategy

It is critical to know what the management team sees as the exit strategy for the company. Will it go public? Or is the goal to be acquired? You want to know what the time frame is going to be and decide if that is going to work for you. Some industries are more prone to certain types of exit strategies. For example, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are more common in the consumer industries as opposed to tech industries where going public is more the norm.

Financial Performance

Of course, no list would be complete without the financial piece. It is essential to take a look at the following components of any company you are considering investing in.

Of course, no list would be complete without the financial piece. It is essential to take a look at the following components of any company you are considering investing in.

  • Revenue: Look for a revenue line that is trending upward over the last few years or at least holding steady.
  • Net Income: Growth in net income from year to year is important. It shows how to make adjustments as needed to keep their bottom line growing.
  • Profit Margins: Again, look for steady growth, which indicates that a company can manage its operating costs and reward shareholders with returns.

These are not an exhaustive list of what an investor should be watching for when investing in a company, but we hope it is enough to get you thinking. Investing is an exciting yet high-risk endeavor so the more prepared and knowledgeable you are the better your chance of investing in a company could pay off.


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