You’re most important investor is your….

…spouse.

Investors invest cash and (hopefully) time into your company.  Their decision to invest in your venture is usually a business decision (unless you’re friends, family, and fools cash).  However, your spouse invests cash (probably your savings), your house (2nd mortgage), your children’s future education, his/her time with you, his/her sanity, and possibly the marriage…  your spouse basically puts EVERYTHING on the line, not just cash.

Yet the tendency is to come home and unload on your spouse.  “We can’t make payroll this week”, “We lost the biggest deal, I’m not sure we’re going to make it now”, “That stupid employee….” the list goes on and on.  What that does essentially paint a very poor picture for your biggest investor, which will in turn cause significant doubt on his/her part that you can succeed, which will also create friction and resistance to your business at home, the very place you need the most support.

The  best thing you can do for your business and your marriage is to treat your spouse like your most important investor (which they are!).  Don’t unload on him or her, but rather be optimistic on what’s going on.  “We lost our biggest customer today but I’ve got 2 other deals in the works that could make it okay…”  When you have the full support of your spouse, you’ll find they come in to the office to help with grunt work, they’ll edit/read documents for you, they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure your success.  It can save your business and ultimately your marriage.

But now you still need someone on which to unload.  Here’s where your advisory board (different than your board of directors) comes in handy.  You should have established this on day one.  Create yourself a personal advisory board that will help you think through founder problems.  Most people are very willing to help be a sounding board, and if you select carefully, your business will be stronger with it.

Fred Wilson’s “A Lead Investor”

Thank you to Fred Wilson who posted an insightful blog on the definition of a “lead investor”.  If you are looking for capital, this is a must read.

Working with the startup world, I can tell you that 90% of angel investors are bandwagon junkies.  Most of them will only invest when someone else already has.  So if you’re looking for capital, focus all of your efforts on a champion.  Someone that will sing your song as loud as you.  Once that champion investor is found, you will get your capital.   But this person is 1 in 10 (or 50 maybe, or even more).

This isn’t a bad thing by the way.  Most investors have an area of expertise.  If they only invested in their area of expertise, think how limited they would be in where they could invest.  Good investors will be leads in areas they know, love, and understand, and can be a great resource for other investors with little to no knowledge of the area.

So, if you’re looking for capital, find investors with a deep knowledge of your area, and you’re most of the way to finding your champion/lead investor, and the capital you need for your company.

And, as always, if you’re looking for capital, ask for advice.  If you’re looking for advice, ask for money.