Looking for a smarter way to source new clients? Then you might want to start looking into private equity-backed businesses or portfolio companies (“portcos”) since they often have larger budgets.
Portcos or rather their investors are more willing to invest in new projects and initiatives than other types of businesses. This makes them ideal companies for highly skilled and ambitious freelancers to target for high-paying assignments and longer-term projects.
We offer some steps to get you started on your client search.
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Why the private equity industry is a treasure trove of potential
Private equity (PE) backed companies are businesses that are owned and operated by investment managers called private equity firms. Often established PE firms have hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes billions, to invest and typically invest in private companies that have the potential to grow rapidly and generate high returns for their investors. As a result, the portfolio companies of private equity managers are looking to grow and will often need more hands on deck to meet milestones for their investors.
Some PE firms have funds that invest in a single country, others in a region such as Europe or Asia, so the freelance job opportunities could have an international element, which is ideal for bilingual freelancers and translators.
Where do you start your search?
- Private equity firm websites. Many private equity firms list the companies that they have invested in on their websites. These firms will often be listed under the website’s “portfolio” tab. This is a great place to start your search, as it will give you a list of companies that are actively being supported by private equity firms. You can learn a lot about the companies through their press release which will highlight their objectives and why they raised the capital.
- Investment databases and PE news sites. There are a number of investment databases that list private equity-backed companies. Some popular options include PitchBook, Preqin and Private Equity Wire. Some parts of these sites offer free access whereas other sections are paywalled. However, they offer detailed information about each company.
- Industry publications. Industry publications often publish lists of private equity-backed companies in their respective industries. This is a good way to find companies that are operating in your field of expertise.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great resource for networking with people in the private equity industry. You can use LinkedIn to search for people who work at private equity firms and investment banks. and the companies they back.
- Look on sites such as Toptal to get a sense of the calibre and backgrounds of some PE consultants. Not all PE consultants are number crunchers, though. There are market analysts and brand consultants, too.
Once you have a list of private equity-backed companies. Here’s what you can do next.
- Identify the right companies to target. If you have worked in certain industries or enjoy working in any one in particular then look for firms that specialise in those areas. Some, however, have a general sector focus. It’s important to first identify PE-backed companies that are investing in the industries or sectors where you have the most experience and expertise.
- Research the companies’ needs. Once you’ve identified a list of target companies, take the time to research their specific needs. What are their growth plans? What new products or services are they developing? What challenges are they facing? The more you know about the companies’ needs, the better equipped you’ll be to position yourself as a valuable resource.
- Tailor your pitch to each company. When you’re reaching out to private equity-backed companies, it’s important to tailor your pitch to each individual company. Highlight your experience and expertise that is relevant to the company’s specific needs. It’s probably best to explain how you can help the company achieve its growth goals. This could be based on previous projects and experience.
- Look and network with decision-makers. Once you’ve identified the right companies and researched their needs, it’s time to start networking with decision-makers. Who looks like they do the hiring? Which department head should you connect with? If you cannot attend industry events, connect with people on LinkedIn, and reach out to your personal network. The more people you know in the PE industry, the more likely you are to hear about new opportunities.
- Follow up promptly. If you don’t hear back from a company right away, don’t be afraid to follow up. A polite follow-up email or phone call to see how their latest objectives are going is a good way to keep connected. The great thing about private equity firms is that they have many portfolio companies and may think of you for another company or a new investment that they are soon to close.
Here are some freelance skills that PE-backed companies look for:
- Marketing and advertising: Whether it’s marketing and advertising campaigns to promote their products and services or thought leadership content. Freelancers with skills in copywriting, graphic design, and social media marketing can be in high demand. If you have sector expertise even better.
- Sales and business development: Freelancers with skills in sales and business development can help companies identify new markets, develop new partnerships, and close deals.
- Technology and product development: Freelancers with skills in software development, web development, and product design can be in high demand.
- Finance and accounting: Accounting, financial analysis, due diligence and budgeting can be in high demand.
Other things to consider: company size and culture
It’s important to consider whether you want to work for a small company or a more established and larger one. Sometimes a smaller company could give you more access to the management team and valuable projects. This could lead to a more meaningful and lasting business relationship. However, if the founding managing team is stretched things could also be on the chaotic side.
Established firms on the other hand may have more experience outsourcing talent which means payment systems might be in place. They also may have larger budgets. However, you could get lost if teams are large or senior management teams are set in their ways about how they go about doing things.
You can usually get a sense of a company’s culture when doing your research and in your initial conversations over the phone and through email or LinkedIn, for example. That could help you decide whether you feel the opportunities are worth pursuing.