Be Coachable

Check out this excerpt from, How to Pitch Investors: Four Tips from TechStars New York.

Be coachable.

‘Be coachable.
These professional or semi-professional investors pride themselves on “adding value,” to the companies they invest in. They want to know you’re interested in their industry knowledge, technical savvy and contacts, not just their money.

Billings notes that several of the program mentors who introduced one of the companies “made a point of saying how receptive they were to feedback.” His advice to entrepreneurs who are making an appeal to VCs and angels: “Don’t be the smartest guy in the room.”

“We tell the companies early on to make sure to actually ask for something in their presentation,” says David Tisch, managing director of TechStars New York. This means requesting a specific sum of money to accomplish a particular goal, like expanding into new markets. It also means stating how you’d like your investors to help you.’

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I am highlighting this tip because it is important. I remember speaking with a few people from ATDC (Atlanta Technology Development Center) at Georgia Tech. They said that the entrepreneurs who reaped the greatest advantages from their program were those that were coachable. Those that were not were arrogant and resistant to input. This latter group also had a much more difficult time finding venture capital. (Word gets around.) Yes, entrepreneurs tend to be a stubborn bunch (you have to be with so many people letting their fears make them tell you what can’t be done), but your company – and you – grow best when you are receptive to input from knowledgable sources.

Who are knowledgable sources? Business bankers, private equity partners and other team members, venture capitalists, other entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants with a strong SMB clientele list, interim executives, your executive management team, etc. You don’t have to agree with everything anyone says. However, these individuals make valuable resources and, even when you disagree, provide a wealth of information that can help you build a sustainable, growing business. If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend you build out an Advisory Board…and consult with them on a regular basis.