Understanding where the other person is coming from radically increases the probability that you will understand what they are trying to say to you.
I recently met with a young entrepreneur – let’s call him X – well, to be technically accurate, a wannabe entrepreneur – he had never successfully built a business before. The meeting was a chance one at a networking event but my reputation for helping build business had preceded me.
“I have a great idea for a business and the beginnings of a team. How should I go about getting funded?”
My reply obviously did not satisfy the would-be entrepreneur. “Right now you don’t have enough to interest investors. You need to build out your team and demonstrate that they can turn your ideas into a going business first. That means getting your value proposition road-ready and going out and successfully capturing business.”
Of course, X had a different expectation. He wanted to get paid during that process. He wanted someone to guarantee him and his team paychecks while they worked out the kinks. I have written about the corrosive effects of this arrangement in other articles – see The Cost of No Cost; Lack of Accountability – The Core of Failure; Angel’s Sins and Good Reasons Not To – Lessons for Young Wannabees.
I patiently explained that investors – particularly after the bust – are much more conservative. They don’t normally even look at ideas with partial teams. Their preference is for founders who have actually monetized the core value propositions. But X would have none of that. There had to be a way. Somebody must be willing to fund his attempt to become an entrepreneur.
I talked about performance metrics as they related to his ‘business’. Investors would require performance in return for their support. The response was, “I don’t think so. We are smart guys and will do the best we can. They can’t ask for more then that.”
By the time we parted, X was even more certain that he would find a ‘rich and gullible uncle’ to give him money. I was glad that the wine and food was good at the event – otherwise, it had been a wasted half an hour.
© Dr. Earl R. Smith II