The Person (not the company) Succeeds at Fundraising
Last week I was asked by the Central Texas Angel Network to give advice to the current applicants for fundraising. And in typical rebellious fashion I could not help but think that the advice is “It depends” and that there is no one size fits all advice. But as I thought deeper about it, the aspects of company, team, market, blah, blah, blah, while great advice only gives you a map by which to measure the company, but truly to succeed at fundraising I have found it is more the map by which you measure yourself that is just as important in completing the long and arduous journey to term sheet success.
While I have found that fundraising is truly about finding a market of one, the path to locate this individual and convince them to invest in your company is just as much an activity of dating and marriage as well dating and marriage…
As such, here is my advice on the characteristics necessary to succeed at fundraising (and I guess indirectly dating and marriage, but I don’t know anything about that success).
Three Three Characteristics to Succeed at Fundraising
As indicated above, the company aspects is only one aspect of the fundraising process and that your comfortability with vulnerability, ability to stay resiliant, and dedication to authenticity are equally as important.
When fundraising, you have to share your dreams, vision, goals, and soul with everyone that will listen. You must open up about your worries, your successes, and your failures to connect with those capable of giving you funding. Fear of being rejected will only slow you down. Clamming up in uncertainty will make you appear week. Bearing your soul is hard and it is a daily necessity in fundraising.
Get comfortable with vulnerability.
To make vulnerability worse, you get constantly rejected. People dismiss your ideas. People reject your assumptions. People don’t return your calls, emails, texts, etc. People will tell you they will invest and back out. People will ask ridiculous questions. Rejection will become the norm. The oft quoted Howard Schultz was rejected 237 times before he got funding for Starbucks (One must wonder why he counted…).
Accept that rejection is inevitable. And resilience is required.
Getting rejected time and time again while bearing your soul can be crushing. This constant feeling of setback while eternal faith in your vision for your company can make one tempted to say or do things in order to obtain funding. The idea that “end justifies the means”. Saying things that aren’t true or making assumptions appear as facts.
Authenticity is hard when who you are and what you believe in is constantly being questioned, but the journey to fundraising success goes hand in hand in being who you are. Investors invest in people. And believing in that person (you) will be of key importance. And they will believe in you more if you are authentic.
Stay dedicated to authenticity.
The journey to a term sheet is long. And a company and a founder are often inseparable, so the rejection of one is a rejection of the other. While advice on how to get your business fundraising would be as unique as your business, I can tell you that getting ready for your personal journey toward fundraising goes hand in hand with your embracement of vulnerability, resilience and authenticity.