Two Mistakes Rail Businesses Make
For 25 years, I have dedicated our advisory firm to helping rail businesses and rail projects attract all the capital and success they deserve. Having spoken with thousands and worked with hundreds of clients, we see a pattern in almost all their presentations and approaches when trying to secure funding and support. Enthusiasm is high, clarity is low. Belief is great, facts are short. Frustration rages, progress eludes. Let’s reflect on and learn from this dynamic. Perhaps, you’ll recognize it in your own efforts. I invite you to respond with your thoughts and ideas.
Individuals and teams presenting rail projects for funding can expound on their project for hours but miss two basic elements of effective business communication. The first is that while they know what they want to say, they haven’t considered what the listeners want to hear. The second is that they don’t introduce their project logically before they are off and running with voluminous verbal and written material.
Too many project presenters focus solely on the promise of their project, without covering the risks. They either have not taken the time to anticipate an investor’s concerns, or they don’t want to for fear of opening a can of worms. Yet those are the only worms that can catch a big fish, so understanding and thoughtfully addressing them is job one. Funders, lenders, and investors will have very logical concerns. The more they express these the better, as that is how you know they are interested. Presentations should proactively surface and address the concerns that any thoughtful investor would have about a project or company. Pinpointing the risks along with how well you have planned for mitigating them has to be at the heart of any successful rail project plan. That is the only way to come across as an intelligent and successful entrepreneur who represents a sound investment.
Business people are keen on delivering file upon file of drawings, plans and related project material, yet they rarely write a clear executive summary and introductory letter. These are critical elements to assist an investor or lender in entering your world, regardless of the overall vision and merits of your project. They don’t have your inside track on what it’s all about, and you need to pave the way for their understanding.
When have you made these common mistakes and possibly left lenders and investors in doubt about you or your project?