Investors To Avoid

Apparently believing that I must be some kind of really connected guy, entrepreneurs (who have probably read Gladwell’s The Tipping Point) routinely call me to help them get investment.

Before we go any further: No, I can’t get you money. I don’t have that kind of juice. All I can do is guide you through the landscape.

I’ve noticed is that while many businesses are sophisticated about landing financing, others are complete neophytes when it comes to finding money. They simply don’t know the investment landscape well. An early indicator: They fear investors will “steal” their idea. Real investors invest. They don’t take your idea and run with it.

I’m convinced this is because many entrepreneurs are so busy building their organizations, they don’t realize that sourcing investment can be a business in itself.

I’m talking particularly about bad investors. Yes, they are out there. Just because someone has money doesn’t make them a genius. So here are some investors to avoid.

1. Avoid any “investor” who would rather talk constantly about your technology/operation, and never about your business. They’re groupies, not investors.

2. Avoid an investor who knows nothing about your business space. They’ll invariably try to turn your business to something they know better.

3. Avoid an investor who flaunts his or her education. Education is good, but experience is better. Who cares that they got their MBA at Stanford?

4. Avoid an investor who doesn’t want to talk about an exit. Any real investor is always planning an exit, often through a sale. You better be on the same page about what that means.

5. Avoid an investor who wants to completely take over your business. When someone provides financing, they’re becoming your partner, not your boss. You’re supposed to be working toward the same goal.6. Avoid an investor who claims to have ADD. It’s a sickness, not a good thing. Refer them to a doctor. Or cut off their coffee supply.