While many entrepreneurs automatically assume welcoming investment is the right step to take at a certain point in their business’ lifecycle, sometimes this isn’t the case.
You may have been operating a while, having ironed out all the early business hiccups; you probably have some ambitious and exciting plans in place for growth, and think investment is the right answer. Simply put, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs rush into investment, which in turn has done more damage than good to their business.
Whether an offer of investment has been made or it’s simply something you’re starting to think about, it is hugely important to consider whether you – and your business – are actually ready for this and, if it happens, how to manage it.
Before you go ahead with investment, stop and ask yourself these three questions:
Are you ready?
Have you considered how receiving investment might change the dynamics of your day-to-day working life? Upon receiving investment, many business owners start to miss the freedom that came with being their own boss – working the hours they choose, being able to take money out of the business on their terms, having free rein over employment and being able to make unquestioned decisions. Receiving investment, in most cases, means parting with a huge chunk of your autonomy in terms of both finances and overall control. You have to be prepared to accept that change.
As well as the physical changes to your daily pattern, receiving investment can lead to some major internal, psychological battles. How do you get yourself prepared to lead in a new way? How well will you take direction from new people? Will you be able to deal with losing control of what is essentially your ‘baby’, a business that you’ve grown up from the ground? If you’re considering any of these challenges, it can be beneficial to appoint an experienced coach to help you transition through this period. A coach can act as a safe sounding-board and provide unique feedback for business leaders which they would otherwise not have access to.
What’s crucial here is balance; I’ve spoken to many business owners that have felt they have lost control following investment, so it’s important to ensure you have the confidence to discuss terms and conditions, and have them agreed from the beginning, so everyone involved has full transparency.
Is it too soon?
Is your business performing as well as you think it is? Are your early revenue projections looking likely? Do you have long-term business plans, and how strong are they? Has your business been valued? If there is any uncertainty in any of these areas, an investment from an interested party may turn sour once reality kicks in.
It’s worth considering if there are alternatives to having to go through the lengthy process of preparing for investment, and then failing to secure it or losing it later down the line. Do you desperately need investment, or can you manage in the interim by simply growing your business organically? Securing investment takes time and serious effort, so whatever you decide, ensure the team on the ground can be trusted to undertake the day-to-day work while you focus on this important business decision.
Can I do this on my own?
Have you invested enough time into team development in order to make the business run to the best of its potential? Doing so could see your business soar without the constraints of an investor. If it’s not an area you’ve looked at so far, consider the best ways of developing your business internally and you’ll reap the benefits externally.
To do so, work with an executive coach to undercover hidden talents, strengthen key skills and bring out the best in individuals.
Also, look at how the team works together. Are there people forming cliques within the business that could be driving others away? Are there team members with similar personalities that might work well together, and some that would simply clash? Work hard to iron out any issues and ensure your team is functioning efficiently.
In growing businesses especially, change is common and can occur at any time, so employees need to be made resilient to this. Excellent leadership coaching will underpin the management style, ensuring that entrepreneurs can guide their team through these periods of uncertainty and transformation, coming out the other end even stronger.
So, to seek investment, or not to seek investment?
Every business is different and has its own different circumstances and growth plans. An external coach will be able to help you decide what’s right for you by asking the right questions. While investment is the correct choice for many, there are also a huge number of businesses that have the ability to grow organically through fine-tuning the existing business and team. Think long-term when it comes to investment and wait a couple of years if you’re not 100% sure.