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Sunday, February 5, 2012

How To Think Like An Investor

Understanding Financial LeverageImage via Wikipedia
By Matt Tarses

Most entrepreneurs do not think of investors as people. Instead, they think of investors as money - a fatal error.

When it comes to private investing, it is not like picking a stock on NASDAQ. With private investing, it is personal. The investors, like the entrepreneurs, also have goals, preferences, fears, and problems. They bleed when cut. They worry when things go wrong. This means that the relationship you build with investors is essential to obtaining money from them.

In the simplest of terms, subjective and objective are known as the two categories of investors.

In the subjective category, the investor is described as one who is somehow emotionally connected to the entrepreneur or the company and its product or offering. They know the entrepreneur directly or through a third party so they have a comfort level regarding the entrepreneur's ability to perform. They could also be familiar with the product or more specifically the need for the product and wish they had thought of it or could have bought one a year ago. These investors typically get involved at a very early stage and may even be in the friends and family round. They may be accredited, but they may not. Because of the emotional connection, they are more forgiving of missing elements to the business plan or business model. They want to invest and look for reasons to invest, to justify their emotional decision.

An Objective investor is in the business of investing. Because they are likely to have many projects they are considering investing in, they look for reasons not to invest. One example is that if they are considering 5 projects and trying to make a decision, then they have to eliminate at least 3 to narrow down their choices. Therefore, they look for things that incomplete. The business plan is difficult to read or understand is the easiest factor to use. Because they use some standard formula rather than real date, the financial projections are unrealistic or incomplete so the investor knows that entrepreneur is just "guessing." There is another big cause for elimination by an Objective investor and that is that the company has an inadequate plan for execution once the money is received. Aside from the fact that they haven't completely figured out what they will do with the money, their use of funds is also vague. An Objective investor doesn't want their money used to "figure stuff out", they want it to go directly to activities that will help the company scale and generate revenue, and can be measured through milestones or project plans.

Ultimately, it will be an emotional decision for the Investor to actually write the check. If you are seeking serious investor money, you won't get to the point where the investor can make the decision to invest if you have flaws in your business plan or business model.

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