As a small business owner seeking investment, understanding the intricacies of the investment due diligence process is vital for attracting potential investors and securing the funding you need to grow your business.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps involved in investment due diligence, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the scrutiny of potential investors, including private equity funds and angel investors.
What is due diligence in investing?
Investment due diligence is where a potential investor carries out an in-depth examination of a target company or investment opportunity. It’s an important process that potential investors undertake to assess your business's viability, potential risks and growth prospects.
Carrying out investment due diligence is an important exercise to demonstrate that your business has complied with all its legal obligations and is worth the amount of money the investor is proposing to invest in your business. It will help demonstrate to the proposed investor that there are no “hidden nasties” and your business is worth investing in.
What does good due diligence involve?
Good due diligence involves a comprehensive analysis of various aspects of your business. Here are the key areas you’d focus on:
- Financial health – provide accurate and up-to-date financial statements, cash flow reports and outstanding debts
- Legal compliance – ensure all legal documents are in order, contracts are signed and dated and regulatory compliance is met
- Market analysis – showcase a deep understanding of your target market, industry trends and competitive advantage
- Management team – highlight the expertise and experience of your management team, showcasing their track record
- Operational efficiency – demonstrate efficient operational processes and supply chain management
Private equity fund investment due diligence
Private equity funds are known for investing in early-stage companies with high growth potential. As a small business seeking investment from private equity funds, the investment due diligence process becomes even more crucial. Here are some specific aspects to consider:
- Business model assessment – private equity funds will thoroughly analyse your business model, revenue streams and scalability potential
- Market opportunity – showcase the market opportunity for your products or services and your competitive edge in the industry
- Growth strategy – present a clear growth strategy that outlines how the investment will be utilised for expansion
- Financial projections – provide detailed financial projections to demonstrate your potential for returns on investment
- Management team evaluation – emphasise the strengths and experience of your management team in executing growth plans
Angel investment due diligence
Angel investors are individual investors who provide capital to startups and early-stage companies in exchange for ownership equity. As a small business seeking angel investment, here are some additional points to focus on during the investment due diligence process:
- Founder fit – angel investors often invest in people as much as they invest in ideas (showcase your passion, commitment, and alignment with the investor's values)
- Proof of concept – if possible, demonstrate tangible proof of concept or early success, such as pilot programs or initial sales
- Market traction – highlight any positive market feedback, customer interest or early adopters to support your market potential
- Exit strategy – address the potential exit strategies, such as acquisition or IPO, to assure the angel investor of a potential exit opportunity
Investment due diligence checklist
Navigating the investment due diligence process becomes more manageable when you break it down into ten easy steps. These steps apply to both private equity funds and angel investors:
1. Define objectives
Clearly articulate your investment goals and the purpose of seeking funding. Identify the type of investors you want to attract.
2. Gather information
Organise all necessary documents and data about your company for review. Prepare your financial records, legal documents and undertake market research.
3. Legal and regulatory compliance
You will need to make sure your company complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Engage legal professionals (like the ones at LawBite) to conduct a legal review and address any compliance issues. They will be able to ensure that:
All your contracts are signed and dated (including all Employment Contracts, Director Service Agreements or Letters of Appointment)
You’ve complied with data protection laws
- You own your intellectual property or have licences
- You’ve protected your intellectual property, where applicable
4. Financial analysis
Provide comprehensive financial records demonstrating your financial stability and performance. Have your financial statements audited if possible.
5. Market research
Present market analysis and growth projections to showcase the potential of your business. Include data on market size, industry trends and customer demographics.
6. Management team assessment
Highlight the qualifications and expertise of your management team. Prepare detailed bios and resumes for key team members.
7. Operational evaluation
Detail your company's day-to-day operations and supply chain management. Showcase your operational efficiency and any cost-saving measures.
8. Risk assessment
Acknowledge potential risks and outline strategies to mitigate them. Be proactive in addressing potential challenges and how you plan to overcome them. It’s advisable to seek assistance on any financial projections, valuations and ROI predictions from an accountant so that these sections are accurate and clearly set out any risk factors.
9. Valuation and negotiation
Determine a fair valuation for your company and negotiate terms with potential investors. Be open to constructive discussions and be prepared to justify your valuation.
Be prepared to make an informed decision based on the investment due diligence process results. Consider the fit with the investor's goals and your long-term vision for the business.
Get legal assistance from LawBite
Investment due diligence is a critical process if you’re seeking funding from both private equity funds and angel investors. Understanding and preparing for the process can instil confidence in potential investors and position your business for success. As you navigate the intricacies of investment due diligence or the scrutiny of angel investors, we can offer a range of legal services designed to make your journey smoother and more successful.
Our experienced legal professionals can thoroughly review your contracts, agreements and other legal documentation to ensure compliance and mitigate potential legal risks. We can also help you identify potential risks and develop effective strategies to address them, reassuring investors and demonstrating you’re ready for investment.
Additionally, we offer expert legal services for reviewing Term Sheets and other investment documentation, such as Investment Agreements and Articles of Association, ensuring you fully understand the investment terms and conditions before accepting an investment.
It’s also advisable to obtain tax and accountancy advice to help with your valuations and ensure that the investment is being structured in the most tax-efficient way. LawBite can refer you to other professionals, such as accountants and tax advisors, to help guide you through the investment process. To speak to one of our expert corporate lawyers about investment due diligence matters, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.