I’ve shared my views on the importance of bidirectional relationships, which I believe is one of those good-life principles. But for entrepreneurs, understanding how to approach relationships with investors is imperative.
Don’t view a good investor as a cash machine, but rather as a partner in building your business. Yes, they provide capital and seek a return on it, but they can also add value in a variety of other ways. They can make warm introductions to potential customers or vendors. They can tap their networks to help recruit for key positions. They can help you navigate turbulent times by sharing their experiences and strategizing with your team. A good investor may invest a lot of time as well as money. They aren’t just making an investment in your company—they’re investing in the founder—you—too. Quite reasonably, they are likely to want to get to know you before making an investment. In fact, they like to establish the relationship long before they commit funds.
These ideas may help entrepreneurs approach investor relationships correctly:
- Pitching – Don’t expect to walk away with a check. Their feedback can be many times more valuable, especially if you’re early stage. Pay close attention to it. And ask questions. Two good ones: “Is there anyone you think I should know?” “Can I help you in any way?”
- Updates – Send them a clean, succinct monthly update. This will help keep you top of mind. Have a clear ask.
- Touch base – Periodically reach out to ask them what they’re up to and how they view certain markets. Share some of the things you’re doing that may not make the update. Ask if you can connect them with anyone or help them in any other way.
- Make connections – If you know someone who could benefit from knowing the investor, or vice versa, make the intro. Both will appreciate it.
- Share knowledge – If you learn something that you think an investor could benefit from knowing, pass it on.
Approaching relationships with investors correctly can be a game changer. Start developing them early.