February 26th, 2010
I like to tell the story about raising money to start Eagle.
I went to see a venture capitalist and talked to him about the concept of them investing in our business. Most venture capitalists invest in “product” companies as opposed to “services” companies, so he spent some time trying to understand our business.
I felt like the meeting was going quite well, I had projections of numbers, a good understanding of the environment, the competitive landscape etc.
Then he asked me how much money I wanted! Well I guess my presentation was only about 90% complete because really I thought I was there to ask if the concept was one worth investigating and I didn’t really know how much I needed to get the company going yet. Opportunity lost!
Important lesson: If you are in front of someone who is in a position to help you then you need to know what to ask for!
This morning the same thing happened to a company that was pitching a group of potential angel investors. Deja vu!
The reality is that this scenario can play out in many ways, not just when entrepreneurs are looking for funding.
1. If you are a salesperson looking to break into an account you need to know what you are asking for. Is it information about the company so that you can understand the opportunity? Is it the name of the right decision maker? Is it competitive information? Are you asking for an introduction to the right people?
2. If you have an idea about improving a process at work. Are you asking for permission to implement it? Are you asking for recognition for the ideas … monetary or otherwise? Are you asking for advice about what comes next?
Often we go into meetings and are not clear about what we want … not a good idea. Sometimes you only get ones shot, make it count!