In 2011 I was trying to raise R850million to acquire a business. The fund-raise was losing momentum and I could feel the deal slipping away from me.
Not only were potential new investors balking, but I was losing the faith of my existing investors.
I went to my old man and laid it on the table: “People are asking me for business plans and cashflow forecasts, but I don’t know the exact answers so I’m in a jam. Do I pretend I know the answers and give them what they want? Or do I tell the truth and admit I simply don’t know what next year’s profit will be?”
He looked at me and quietly said, “Neither. People don’t invest in business plans and spreadsheets. They invest in dreams. Stop selling spreadsheets and start selling your dream.”
So I stopped updating my Excel assumptions tab. I went back to explaining why the deal was a good one, and where we wanted to take the business. It took a few more months, but we got enough cash to do the deal.
In startup-land you don’t want investors who are buying into spreadsheets. These types either don’t understand the risks of startups, or they don’t care about the story.
Neither type will lead to a happy ending.
Be sure to have a business plan and a spreadsheet on hand, but don’t open them until you’ve sold the dream.