Investor search mistakes to avoid, part 2

Last week I introduced you to a list of mistakes businesses make when searching for investment capital. The list came from a book by my friend, Andrew Sherman, titled, Raising Capital. As we learned, there’s more to acquiring capital than a business plan.

So now let’s take a look at the rest of Andrew’s list, and, like last time, each one is followed by my thoughts.

Mistake: Not understanding the investor selection process.
Don’t deliver information with a fire hose when a pitcher is preferred. If there is interest, investors will request the full details as needed.

You’ll need three documents: an initial, one-to-three-page executive summary (the pitcher), an intermediate 10-page (+-) model, and a long one with all numbers and research (fire hose). Deliver the last two only when requested.

Mistake: Too little research and analysis.
You must have market/industry research and analysis to back up your assumptions and projections. Investors don’t value promises or hunches. Don’t show extensive data until requested, but reference and summarize what you’ve learned in the short models.

Mistake: Underestimating the funding chronology.
If your funding requirements and the investor’s investment schedule are not in sync, guess who makes adjustments? Remember, to an investor, urgency sounds like desperation. And this will be true for crowdfunding as well.

Mistake: Being afraid to share your idea.
Sherman says you can’t sell if you can’t tell. Get a non-disclosure agreement that fits your project and use it. Investors not only expect to sign an NDA, they won’t respect you if you don’t give them one.

Mistake: Being dollar-wise and investor foolish.
Trick question: Which is the best alternative: a) $1 million from investors who know nothing about your industry; or b) $500,000 from investors who have industry background and contacts? Since the value of an investor relationship is usually more than cash, “b” is often the correct choice. Consider all forms of investor participation when evaluating an offer.

Mistake: Getting hung up on initial ownership and control.
Establishing ownership and control is where most investment negotiations break down. Here’s a handy rule: He who has the gold makes the rules, which usually includes control. Business founders are typically better served focusing more on the investor exit plan and less on initial control.

Accomplishing a successful investor relationship requires thoughtful preparation plus skillful negotiation.

Write this on a rock … Know the rules before pursuing an investor search.

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