By | David Newns | www.entrepreneur.com
Every entrepreneur wants to grow her or his startup. Cash is key, but it’s wrong to think money is the only thing valuable to founders. Increasingly, I see entrepreneurs who want much more than financial support to help them grow. They want support from people who have been there and done it. People who can offer them time, belief, enthusiasm, expertise and a network to help them rise to the top.
A business never stands still, it either moves forwards or backwards. All of us want to move our startup onwards. We want to grow it, make it incredibly successful, then exit it. And do it again! Of course, money is incredibly important to the growth process. Whether it’s sweat equity, bootstrapping, raising capital or financing an acquisition, being an entrepreneur sometimes feels like a non-stop dash for cash. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban says that, “raising money is not an accomplishment, it’s an obligation.” True, but investment isn’t the only thing that’s valuable to founders.
Hayley Cowburn is an inspiring young founder of a disruptive startup that I recently invested in. She summed up the difference between a financial lifeline and a deeper sort of support. “We’d spoken to a lot of companies about investment before but we always came up against the same problem, that we just didn’t like any of the people that we spoke to,” Hayley said. “Typically they would treat the conversation as if we should be grateful to even be speaking to them, and wanted terms that put all of the power in their hands.”
I’m a serial entrepreneur myself, and talk regularly with the 30-plus founders I support at companies I’ve invested in. I’ve identified five other forms of support that are just as important to people striving to make their business a success. Here’s my list, and some of these might surprise you.