Have a great idea, but are finding it difficult to unlock investment from your parent department or company?
Follow these steps to unlock the money
1) Explicitly show how what you want to do supports THEIR goals. Go and find the exact text that defines what makes them successful, and then align what you want to do with these. Most HQ and Corporate teams are career climbing power monsters. So show how what you are doing helps them. Find team and personal objectives. Align to these.
2) Explain how you will scale the benefit to others. HQ teams have a responsibility to other groups and geographies. Show how YOU will cascade the idea, the tools or learning to help others. Don’t expect more money afterwards, it may not come. Cost this into your initial ask.
3) Have your ask or proposal fully costed. Have quotes in hand. Speak to potential suppliers and get them to provide indicative pricing. If you don’t do this, you will be asked to do it. This only slows down the process and shows that you don’t understand finance.
4) Have a compelling case. You need to explain why the money should be invested and the costs or risks of not doing this. The reason ‘for’ should always include, growth and winning new business. The ‘risk’ needs to be whatever the company is worried about, e.g. losing customers to competitors, retaining the best people. Push what buttons you need to. Don’t lie, but don’t be shy.
5) Be positive. Let me re-tstate that. BE POSITIVE. Lots of requests for funding start with similar to this, “You NEED to do this, you don’t understand, you are in your ivory tower blah blah”. This will not work. Flip your wording to be supportive of what the HQ team are trying to achieve and show how what you want to do extends and enables this. If you start with a negative pitch, then you are criticising others. This will result in them doing what they can to shut you down and they will usually win. At the very least, they will ensure you don’t get their money. If you get some money and do this, expect them to stop you growing it. The other option is that they take ownership of it. You need to build trust, so be nice!
6) Test and share the idea informally before you formally submit it. Setup short 1:1 calls with key stakeholders and ask their advice on your idea and initiative. The key thing here is to ENROL them in this. Make them part of the idea. Share the love. Make sure you attribute EVERYONE who has helped. This can be as simple as a “Thanks to” page or slide, but make sure this is there in the presentation.
7) Brand your idea or initiative. Do you want this to be, “the idea for implementing a tool to do account analysis from Bob and Jim”, or “Project Lightwave”? Whatever you call your idea, you should brand it and give it an identity and a name. This helps people quickly communicate and talk about your idea. A couple of words and a cool name can help massively. Brainstorm the name, but make it relevant and aligned to what you want to achieve. This is much harder than it seems, but worth doing.
8 ) Make the ask clearly and simply at the start in your materials. Explain what you want, why you want it, and why the HQ team should care about this in the slightest. Your presentation can add the detail later, but have the ‘ask’ made very clearly at the start. Don’t overbake the idea. Ask for what you need and nothing more. There will be no shortage of funding if you deliver on your promises and want to do a phase 2. Getting money to support proven ideas that make people look good is not generally difficult. So start with what you need and make people look good.
9) Don’t ever say, “I think” in your ask. Assume no one cares, because they probably don’t. Always use evidence to support your case. Make this as objective as possible and never exclude financial arguments. HQ teams care about money. They want investments to generate more cash than they cost, so make sure you show this. If you need to show market changes, cite analysts and respected research, not popular blogs.
10) Be diligent and persistent. Don’t let this passion detract from your job job, but don’t give up on this too early either. Keep delivering. Money flows to people who deliver. Simple as that. Diligently follow up – on everything. If you need time, reply with, “thanks for this, I’m working on delivering something that I have already promised, but will look at this later today, and get back to you tomorrow AM” – then read it later and reply today!!! Under-promise and over-deliver.
And finally 11) If you are continually challenging the HQ team and think things could be done better, then apply and go and work there. You’ll then realise that it is much more difficult than it seems, they don’t have the freedom you thought they had, and budgets are not as generous as you thought!