Startups require extremely positive founders to carry them through from beginning to end. In the short-term, it is about negating what can go wrong. But in the long run, it is about focusing on what little goes right. This attitude is required 24/7 and has to be shown to everyone and anyone.
When startups launch their products, they will go through a process of quashing customers’ doubts until they buy something. However, when it comes to raising capital, it’s no longer about slaying objections. What potential investors need to feel is how positive you are about your business.
This is not a dash-and-grab operation or a win-lose scenario. Getting a solid investment in your company should be a win-win for everyone involved – you get funds to scale and investors get in on your groundbreaking opportunity. Entrepreneurs need irresistible positivity to convince others that you will succeed.
One of the first tests of my resolve was when I was pitching Dropmysite on Channel News Asia’s venture capitalist TV reality show, Angels Gate. If you watched the whole episode, you would basically see me getting bashed from every angle possible. The objections ranged from “What can go wrong with your business?” to “What if Google decides to enter your market?” to extraneous past trends and other ways that it is all bound for failure.
At that moment, the negativity and pressure mounted, as the show was a Hail Mary for me as I was almost on my last dime.
Putting on your game face
Even if others doubt your business, make sure they have none about your positivity. I could’ve succumbed easily on the show but I allayed most of the angels’ doubts and showed them my conviction about the eventual success of the business. I focused on my core business objectives and made them see the bright side. This allowed me to receive my first major investment and breathe easier. The full story of that experience can be found here.
My case is similar to Dropbox. Everyone doubted the vision of Drew Houston to do online backup and storage – why fight goliaths like Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and others? True entrepreneurs like Houston ignored the naysayers and focused on what they’re doing. Today, Dropbox is valued at $10 billion. Where woulda Houston be today if he was crushed by the negativity?
For startup founders, positivity is required beyond pitching to investors. Not everyone you pitch to will fund your business but they may influence someone else who will. Likewise, people who you aren’t pitching to could tell a contact about your startup. Your reputation will spread and linger – so have an upbeat one will help. Investors often in the due diligence process ask around about the business and the business owner. Sending everyone good vibes about your business is necessary, as you will never know who will cast the deciding vote.
The positive outlook is also required to build and keep your team. Getting quality personnel to invest time and energy in your business is just as important. Without a good band of workers to get the product or service out the door, you’ll go nowhere. It is essential to be optimistic about the future of the company so your staff will be too. If they share your enthusiasm, they will put in more effort to helping realize the shared dream of building an empire.
To succeed in the entrepreneurship game, you must always believe that the glass is half full, not half empty. It is putting on your game face, smiling in spite of doubt, and trudging on. Only then can you survive the startup journey and perhaps do it all over again.
(Editing by Terence Lee, photo credit: Sébastien Gagnon)