Being the Best Entrepreneur you can Be

One question I am asked frequently by clients is how to attract investors. I typically respond by saying that every situation is different and each business faces its own unique challenges. On the other hand, I have observed over the years that there are certain traits that are common among successful entrepreneurs. If you want to be the best entrepreneur you can be and give yourself the best opportunity to attract investors (and partners and employees and customers), ask yourself whether you’re doing the following things:

  1. Be honest. This should go without saying, but when describing your business to others the temptation to spin or exaggerate is strong. Smart people can detect BS, so if you’re distorting facts to make your business sound better than it is, you might be doing yourself more harm than good. Similarly, inflating your numbers to make your business sound better than it is or glossing over issues that threaten your venture doesn’t make sense because they are both situations where the truth will inevitably come to light in due time.
  2. Be direct. When speaking with others about your business, don’t ramble on. Speak objectively and avoid buzzwords. In plain English, give a concise description of your business that isn’t longer than it needs to be and provides information that makes your products or services easy to understand.
  3. Be informed. If an investor or other third party asks you a question that you don’t know how to answer, saying “I don’t know” is better than making up an answer. But the best thing to do when asked a question about your business is give a really good and accurate response. This means you need to know lots about your market, your target customer, the problem you’re solving, your cost and revenue models, and your competitors. Until you can give these types of answers cold, you’re probably not ready to pitch to investors.
  4. Be reasonable. Everyone knows you are passionate about your business, but give yourself a reality check from time to time. Entrepreneurs frequently overvalue their ideas, which can lead them to make unrealistic assumptions. Surrounding yourself with people who can be used as objective sounding boards is invaluable because your friends and family will likely not be a source of critical business analysis.

Giving yourself and your business an honest self-assessment isn’t easy. If you’re an entrepreneur, regardless of whether you’re starting your first business or a seasoned founder, I encourage you to use the points above as guidelines. If you’re having trouble attracting the right kind of people, you may find that improvement is needed in some of these areas.

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