I am always on the lookout for rising businesses, and as I evaluate their future potentials, I try to keep in mind that I was once a young leader of an evolving company. I see my past self in their founders and leaders, up at all hours, pounding the pavement, refining their offerings and messages, pivoting and adapting to find their niches, developing business opportunities, and most of all, experiencing successes. When I meet with such young entrepreneurs, of course I am interested in their products and services—because part of my decision to invest will be based on how they can contribute to the marketplace. But I am even more interested in the leaders behind the company names—because ultimately, I invest in people and not businesses.
At Sumus, we look at both sides of the investment equation when we provide strategic advisement. When a client seeks counsel about how to proceed as an investor, or how to generate interest in a startup, we initiate our discussion by seeking to develop and maintain solid and open relationships. In other words, the first order of business is bringing people together to clarify expectations and establish communications, and then we move on to dollar figures.
After the decision is made to make an investment, I believe that both sides can greatly benefit in human terms.
For the investee, independence is maintained, but a best practice should be to lean on the investor for advice. Try to keep in mind that you came together for a reason: you share interest in the same space, so presumably, the investor has accrued a vast network of resources over time. The investor’s contacts alone could be used to address specific challenges that could appear unique in your present situation. But trust me, other people have walked the same dusty trails, and they know the best ways to navigate difficult crossroads. Specifically—and I am talking about way more than what is typed up in the agreement—communication should be initiated to discuss financials, marketing, prospects, and impending moves. What does all this add up to? State your visions, but trust your investors.
For the investor, it is reasonable to expect growing pains, but equally reasonable to expect successes. You believed in the people involved—not to mention their business offerings—so you should not be surprised as strides are made. And that is when you will feel great temptation to act on your observations to provide that tiny bit of advice that could turn moderate gains into great gains. Every situation is obviously different, so what is the bottom line? Share your opinions, but trust your investees.
The Sumus team can facilitate all aspects of the investment process, beginning with the numbers. But we understand that business is all about relationships, so we take great pride in bringing people together, and keeping them together. Please contact us to find out more.