I wrote a posta couple of days ago about how important I think it is for investors to give feedback to entrepreneurs. I feel that it’s the least we can do.
It got me thinking that this should also work in reverse and entrepreneurs should feel willing and able to feedback to investors.
The worry is that investors are in this powerful and protected position and therefore you should tread carefully. It’s the same position that you might give to a bank manager or a teacher. These people have the power to make your life much better or worse should they choose. It therefore usually leads to cautious or even false communications. I think that’s bullshit.
So long as you feedback in a clear and constructive way it will usually be well received. If it’s not then you have to ask whether this is the kind of partner you want for your business? If you don’t provide honest feedback then you will never build any kind of decent relationship. I really believe that honesty is the bind that builds strong relationships.
By feeding back you can be sure to get want you want from investors and you’re also providing valuable insights into how they are being perceived and what they could do better.
Just try it – I think you might be surprised by the results. I remember seeing a founder during a board meeting say to an investor who was checking his mobile:
“Excuse me Bob, but this is really important so I would appreciate it if you could give us your full attention.”
I thought this was fantastic. I gained further respect for the founder in seeing him do this and I think everyone did, including Bob. From that point everyone’s concentration level stepped up a gear and so did the quality of the meeting.
This is the kind of founder that I want to back. Someone who believes so strongly in his business that he is going to demand complete support and attention from everyone. I think Bob was left with the impression that he needed to a better board member.
Imagine saying at the start of a pitch:
‘I’m putting my life into this business and it’s very important to me. I also happen to believe that the business has tremendous potential and can become a major success story. Therefore I’d appreciate it if I can have your full attention and we try to have a high quality session. If I can use all my time as effectively as possibly then I think I improve my odds of building a successful business.’
Or saying to an investor:
‘In the spirit of spending the majority of your time on your best opportunities I really need you to give us more time. And if you don’t think we are one of your best opportunities then I need to spend some time convincing you that we are. Either way I need you to be more of a support to us.”
For founders this is your business we are talking about. This is something that you are pouring your heart and soul into. You should demand that people respect that.
I think you should also demand that people help you in any way they can, especially those who have a vested interest in your start-up.
Starting a business is a daring and risky journey; you need all the help you can get. If you think someone can help you, ask them to do so. If someone is not giving you their full support or attention don’t be afraid to tell them. Otherwise you are basically saying that your business does not deserve it.
Most people will respect you for this – and you business will definitely benefit