Finding an investor is challenging. So it is understandable that when you are ready to start accepting term sheets that you would be tempting to accept your first offer after having reached out to countless investors. Though lack of financing can cause you to overemphasize the pros of accepting an investment offer, remember that there is much more at stake when dealing with an investor than your finances. Sometimes simply saying ‘no’ or ‘you are no the right fit’ is the smartest move. In order to evaluate compatibility with your potential investor, there are two things you should focus on:
- The Term Sheet
It’s not just about how much money you get, but about how much you are willing to give up for it. Your term sheet is an agreement that establishes the terms and conditions at the base of an investment. It addresses information pertaining to the identification of parties involved, initial purchase price, contingencies that may constitute changes in your agreement, time frames for decision making, equity, etc. It is your responsibility to know and understand its content. In most cases your term sheet is the starting point for negotiations. Investors, backed with their professional experience and legal team, will draft term sheets in favor of their interests. Be ready to come to the negotiating table equally prepared. If you do not see eye-to-eye on an important matter, it may be best to walk away from the offer.
- What your investor can offer you
Money will help businesses grow. However, it should not be the only thing that the investor has to offer. The reputation of the venture firms is often taken into consideration. Having a credible investor attached to a startup can assist with credibility, which can be helpful in forming business partnerships and hiring new employees.Many investors wind up taking board seats, so for these roles it can be helpful to find someone with industry experience or an expertise in scaling startups. Investors can help with problem-solving and can also make introductions. A good investor should be available to communicate with you, offer expertise, and give you honest feedback on your operations when needed. You should also look to see if said investor has a contact pool that you may be able to leverage in the future.
Declining an investment offer doesn’t mean you are closing the door to a particular relationship. Explain your business needs are for the time being, and express to an interested investor that you look forward to doing business with them in the future. Refusing to accept an investment offer does not have to be a negative experience. Show gratitude, explain your reasoning, and exchange pleasantries on your way out. You never know when you may cross paths in the future.
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