Yo, CEO! When you fund-raise, your brain must turn bi-polar

Fund-raising for company X yesterday kicked off to a good start: two good meetings with two top VCs and two very different approaches/sets of questions/personalities/reactions. Anyone who has sat down with investors as long and as many times as I have knows that there are no two meetings alike. In the background these days, Angel forums, entrepreneurs investment funds, and VCs that manage to close their new funds populate the industry news. Still, what is the next step to take after the fund-raising has kicked-off?

It is all about accelerating the business as much as you can and beyond. You do not wait for the money to come in. You put the pedal to the medal.

In the race towards raising funds for your company, the path to sales, revenue and key performance indicators of your startup is key and you must, must, must get your freak-on and drive both horsepowered scenarios at the same time and with the same fury and determination.

This is what you do the minute you leave the first investor meeting:

– All questions raised by the investors are good feedback, even the ones where you felt “these guys do not get it”. These are precisely the ones that have to force you to articulate your business better so that next time people get it and quite straightforwardly.
– Update business plan, update powerpoint, update financial assumptions.
– Go to next meeting, do the same. Have answers for possible “these guys do not get it” questions.
– More updating, better explanations, change slides order and cut to the chase in your presentation.
– At the next meeting, ask questions about: how the process is, what documentation will they require in the future, do they want to go to client meetings with you, etc. You want to be prepared, you want to organise things in advance. The process, if these guys are professionals, has a book of rules and do’s and dont’s and you want to know what they are.
– Breathe, take your vitamins, go to the gym, go to the pub and have a laugh with your friends, remind yourself this is only part of the process.

Put your bi-polar hat on and focus on your business:

– Set up a weekly review of the business Key Performance Indicators. Distribute this to existing shareholders, investors and key managers in your startup. If progress is achieved on a weekly basis, you guys are on the right path and this will incentivise your existing angels to support you, should you need an additional line of credit whilst you close the fund. Good news and progress show the business has legs.
– Focus on sales, partnerships, anything that can accelerate your progress to revenues or to higher client pipeline. This should be the second most important thing in your brain harddrive.
– Let the investors that you have already visited know of this. Send a quick email with a few lines with your top headlines on partnerships, new clients signed, main contracts won, etc. Just a headline, not the whole spiel. It’s like a teaser. Whilst they are deciding if they like your business or not, you guys are doing all the right things. This is what counts.
– Learn to make people focus on achievable, specific tasks that can generate quick gains, progress, revenue. It’s all about setting a trackrecord mindset of achievement and accountability in everyone involved in the business.
– “Make it your business to know everything that goes on in your company operations”. As a CEO, your role is to set the course, the vision, get people focused on what matters for the business. Cool IP is not it. A robust business model is. Sit on the open plan area. Do not bury yourself in your CEO office. Know what happens everywhere and add value: support your colleagues with feedback, input on how to go about things or how things should be done. Learn the technicalities of their job so you too can answer technical or financial questions or what goes on with clients. Investors will ask you.
– Get leaner. Go to the gym, build muscle. It will give you more stamina. Quick off the RedBull habit and learn to be healthy the right way. It’s going to be a long road and you need all your physical “you” to support the “mind/spirit” you.
– Surround yourself with people that “have done it before”. Attend networking events where you can chat to other CEOs. Read the SeedCamp blog, or Robin Klein’s of TAG.

At the end of the process, you will be a better version of yourself, raise funds for your company, have everyone in the company aligned and focused on revenue, shed some extra pounds of fat and look hotter. It’s a win-win scenario. Start today.

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