Today I gave a keynote speech at the WeRoc conference (Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital). In my talk I shared several pieces of advice on raising capital:
This first bit of advice probably seems counter-intuitive to be saying at raising venture conference but it’s what I honestly believe is the best advice I could give the entrepreneurs: Don’t raise more money than you absolutely need early on in your business because your needs will grow to be as big as the money you raise. I gave the example of how once upon a time I was happy with a single pair of simple black pumps…until I got my first pair of Christian Louboutin shoes…then I didn’t just want another pair, I “needed” another and another until I had an entire shoe closet full of them… My needs expanded with my ability to buy more. The bottom line is that it’s really hard to stay disciplined when you raise too much money too early on in your business. It’s best to force yourself to bootstrap your business as long as you can because it will force you to adopt good spending habits early on…a habit that will later benefit you and your investors for a long time to come.
I shared why “Great” doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact with the company I sold most of the really impactful things that led to our success didn’t cost money at all – they just took thinking in a more creative way, giving a personal touch, and the right kind of communication.
I shared why women need to stop apologizing! Don’t apologize for things like being a mother or having a family! That is NOT a weakness. It’s a strength because it shows what an amazing multi-tasker you are! Be confident in the way you present your ability to handle things. Investors don’t know you so if you are worried they are going to be doubly worried when you apologize. Explain your situation matter-of-factly and then explain that you are on top of it. That’s it. No apology necessary.
I shared that Chaos doesn’t breed Credibility. You’ve got to be organized. You’ve got to know the contracts you’ve signed and the terms you’ve agreed to in those contracts. Start with something as simple as scanning your contracts into an encrypted folder and use an excel sheet to keep a master list of the NDAs, client contracts, leases, employment agreements etc for your company. Having that data organized shows investors you are on top of things. And if you start that practice when your small it is easier to maintain as you grow and will ultimately lead to getting you a higher valuation on an exit.
I shared that you don’t have to be a know it all to get funding. It’s okay to be honest about your weaknesses and worries, in fact it shows you are thinking about the right concerns which can help create trust with a potential investor.
After my talk I also participated on panel with some other amazing women where we discussed things like lessons we’ve learned the hard way and how to prioritize your time and how to handle work/life balance.
It was a great event and there were so many incredibly sharp women (and men) in attendance today and it was a great experience to spend time with all of them.
Have a fantastic day!
~Amy Rees Anderson