Raising capital will change your business. Make sure it’s what you really, really want. Make sure it’s what your business plan needs. I have seen perfectly viable businesses destroyed by the imperatives of capital and by bad investors.
Working with investors is a Faustian bargain. When you take money from an investor, you commit to generating a return. When take money from a venture capitalist, you commit to generating a return that’s at least 10X. That’s how venture-fund economics work. And you commit to doing it in less than a decade—realistically five to seven years. It’s an insane amount of work and an unhealthy amount of stress.
Make sure this is what you really want to do and really need to do. There is no going back.
It’s easy to get swept up in the headline-grabbing glamour of the startup lifestyle. Breakneck growth fueled by investments at absurd, dynasty-creating valuations.
It’s a mirage.
Most businesses fail. You know that. Most venture-back businesses fail spectacularly, miserably, and publicly because they are a string of double-or-nothing bets, and most companies eventually land on nothing. And “nothing” takes you out of the game. The odds are against you.
There is a lot to be said for building a sustainable business that supports you, your family, and your team. If things go well, you can choose to scale later.
So before you commit irreversibly to raising money from investors—from bringing on someone who will look over your shoulder and demand performance—consider whether it’s so bad to have a business that earns you a healthy living, that may even make you rich, and that you own and control entirely. If you aren’t sure, consider alternative sources of funding: bank loans, grants, and of course revenue. It’s far easier to raise later than to unwind a bad deal.