14 Jul Lessons for an Entrepreneur
Towards the end of June, I had the opportunity to sit in on a lunch meeting with several RHV members, employees, and the CEO of one of our portfolio companies.
Although the primary purpose of the meeting was for Robin Hood Ventures to hear a portfolio company status update, the conversation proved incredibly multifaceted and left me with several lessons and pieces of advice I felt were worth sharing with all entrepreneurs:
- Follow your heart
- While all entrepreneurs should establish a strong level of trust with their employees and aim to acquire a capable and trustworthy board, the company is ultimately the entrepreneur’s project. This is not to say that the insights and opinions of board members and advisors should be disregarded, but rather, there will always be certain instances where the entrepreneur must have enough courage and tenacity to trust themselves.
- Communication is key
- Raising funds for a start-up is always a difficult job. Companies must be able to present a solid business plan, organizational structure, and strong preliminary results. However, once a company has obtained initial funding, its relationship with investors is not over; rather, it is just beginning. Angel investors are well aware of both the risks associated with their job and the volatility of the market. Thus, one of the traits that investors value most in a CEO is transparency. Regardless of how a company is performing, the CEO should always communicate with their investors. The investors want the company to succeed and can often provide support or advice.
- Build a product that resonates with people
- When considering whether to invest in a company, investors spend time considering various factors. So while finances are important, they are not everything. Investors are people too and thus are far more likely to endorse a company whose product or story resonates with them.
- Fake it until you make it
- Investors look for companies they believe will succeed. Part of this success is technical, so all innovations and products should be grounded in data and results. However, a significant part of a company’s success hinges on the CEO. As the leader of a company, the CEO can make or break it. Therefore, investors are far more likely to consider a company run by a CEO that they trust. And trustworthy CEOs are often confident leaders. Confidence can be hard to come by, but even if you are not feeling completely self-assured, it is important to fake it until you make it.
- Follow your heart