If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea that you’re passionate about, you will go to great lengths to make it a reality. Typically, this means finding investors who share a similar passion for making great ideas a reality. However, this can be a strenuous process for entrepreneurs. The show is called Shark Tank for a reason. You may leave an investors meeting with your idea torn to shreds, an ambiguous “maybe”, or if you’re really lucky, the green light. However, investors aren’t only investing in your product, they are also investing in you. As Drew Hendricks at Inc. puts it, “Angels are more likely to invest in people rather than just ideas.” As such, be the kind of entrepreneur investors want to work with. The best offense is a good defense, so do your research and keep in mind these three characteristics that investors look for before you enter the shark tank.
Once you have your idea and your team, the best thing you can go into an investors meeting with is a plan — a really comprehensive, specific plan. You should have previously considered every aspect of your business and have anticipated every question you may be asked. Think about these questions beforehand and prepare answers so you aren’t scrambling in the meeting. Remember, don’t only consider the tough questions that may arise, but the basic questions that would be asked to any entrepreneur in any industry. Be sure to have the answers and any necessary numbers, graphs, statistics, and other specs to build your strongest argument. It’s likely that this is the biggest meeting your young business has had to date. If you’re not prepared for it, that will reflect poorly on your commitment and future performance, hurting your chances with investors. Business Insider’s list of Best Shark Tank Pitches notes a pitch that lasted two hours, with Mark Cuban stating, “he knew the answer to every question.” This contestant’s preparedness and spunk made him one of their favorite and most challenging contestants.
Whats the saying? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Well, investors like that saying too. How you deal with adversity on the road to startup success says a lot about you and can make or break an investor’s perception of you. If you have given up on a venture at the first sign of trouble in the past, that doesn’t bode well for a return on investment for them. Show that you are determined to make this work and will not be easily dissuaded. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran notes, “if we’re hammering away at them and they keep bouncing back, they win our respect immediately, and that’s a deal that’s almost always bought.” You can also prove your determination by being decisive. There will likely be a lot of difficult decisions to be made on the road to market. Don’t waver, pick the best thing for your business and execute on it. Demonstrating your steadfast commitment to the business and the investors will go a long way.
Your potential investors have probably grown many startups before yours, including their own. They can be a wealth of information and will appreciate it if you take advantage of them as a resource for advice, not just funds. If they give you unprompted advice, take it, consider it, implement it – don’t be offended or write it off. If you seem uncoachable, or unwilling to innovate/change, this will send a negative message about what it will be like to work with you should they invest in your business.
Even though meetings with investors can be overwhelmingly stressful, they can also be very rewarding. It is important to remember your product isn’t the only thing being assessed – you are too. A great product won’t get funded if the the project leader is difficult to work with. Remember, the investors are assuming quite a bit of risk bringing your product to market. So in addition to advocating for your vision, advocate for yourself too! Remember these three qualities that investors like to see in entrepreneurs before you take the big meeting, and maybe your vision will become a reality.