Too many entrepreneurs jump right into raising money before taking these three important steps.  This is the main reason for the horror stories you hear about entrepreneurs whose investors are making the miserable.  Do these three things BEFORE having any conversations with investors to save time and lots of potential future headaches.

This post talks about the second thing: Get clear on the exit strategy for your investors.

Which of the following fits your goals best?

☐ I want my investors to make money when I sell the company in 5-7 years.  Before the sale, I will invest everything I have into making the company an attractive target for acquisition by a bigger company.

☐ I want my investors to make money when I sell the company in _____ years.  I will look for a values-aligned buyer or maybe sell the business to my employees.  My investors will have to be patient because this could take some time.

☐ I would be open to considering the sale of my business, but I don’t want to be pressured to sell it to the wrong buyer.  I would like my investors to get paid out of profits/cash flow on a regular basis so that they are not in such a rush to have me sell the company.

☐ I want my investors to get paid when I take the company public.

☐ I want my investors to get paid by selling their investment to someone else.

☐ I want my investors to stay with me forever and only exit if they really need their original investment back.

☐ I want my investors to get paid an amount over time that equals a certain multiple of their original investment and then exit once they’ve reached that multiple.

There is no right answer!  Choose what fits best for you and your highest vision for your business.  Then design your investment offering for the exit strategy you choose.

Want to learn from Jenny live?  Come to Fund and Fuel Your Dreams in Oakland March 8-10.

Here is an exercise we recommend in order to make sure you get your fundraising done within a reasonable amount of time.

1. Imagine you have reached your fundraising goal. You are looking at the list of all your investors and how much each one invested.  What is the lowest amount that someone invested and what is the highest amount?  Try to create a clear picture in your mind of your investor list and the amounts invested.

2. In your imagination, scan the list and estimate what the average investment size per investor is. For example, you may picture that you’ll have some people come in at $5,000, some at $10,000, a few at $25,000, maybe one or two at $50,000, and one at $100,000.  In that case, you may estimate the average per investor to be $20,000.  You can use this tool to decide how much you’ll ask for from each potential investor:

3. Now, take the total amount you want to raise and divide it by the average per investor. That will tell you the approximate number of investors you’ll have when you reach your goal.  So, if you want to raise $400,000, you’ll end up with around 20 investors.

4. Multiply that number by 10. That is the approximate number of potential investors you’ll need to talk to about your offering.  (This assumes that an average of one out of ten people you talk to will say yes—you may do much better than that, but it’s best to be conservative).  In our example, this would be 200.

5. Divide that number by the number of weeks you would like to devote to reaching your funding goal. This is the number of people you will contact per week about investing.  So, if you’d like to reach your goal within six months, divide 200 by 26 weeks—you need to contact 7-8 people per week.

6. Assume that for each contact you’ll need to spend 30-60 minutes on average. Multiply the number of people you’ll talk to per week by the average number of minutes you think each contact will take.  That is the total number of hours you should schedule into your calendar for contacting potential investors.  Add at least half that many hours to give yourself time to follow up with people who haven’t yet given you a definitive answer.  In the example above, I would assume eight hours per week plus another four for follow up—so a total of 12 hours per week should be spent contacting potential investors.

7. Now block out that time in your calendar for the number of weeks you gave yourself to reach your goal.

If you use this method, you’ll keep your momentum going and get that fundraising done before you know it!

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