August 7, 2007

A model CEO

Are you an experienced entrepreneur? If you are a serial entrepreneur, one who has had a successful startup in the past, then you most likely possess many of the qualities investors look for. However, if you are starting a new company, as a first time CEO, you should know there are certain characteristics investors want in a CEO. You may fit what they are looking for, you may not. Take a look at a few of the characteristics. The following are qualities Bill Payne, a well-known angel investor, looks for in an entrepreneur.

  • Integrity – Truthfulness and honesty are a must. Angels will check into an entrepreneur’s background. Be truthful from the start.
  • Interpersonal relationships – Are you a skilled manager? Do your customer, partners, earlier investors and family appreciate your personality? Do you carry yourself well in public (speaking, manners, etc.)?
  • Coachable – Do you listen? Do you seek the advice and counsel of others? Or, are you a “know it all”?
  • Passionate – Is this just another activity for you, or is starting this business a self-consuming passion for you? Do you have “both feet in”?

Are you the type of CEO an investor is looking for? If not, work hard to acquire these traits. If necessary, you may need to hand the position of CEO to a person who possesses these traits.

More than money

How do you assist an entrepreneur in growing a successful business? Besides providing capital to the entrepreneur, industry expert Bill Payne suggests ways to help entrepreneurs reach success.

  1. Keep the team focused – Very early stage entrepreneurial ventures tend to be opportunistic as a necessity. They seek revenues and income from all sources – consulting, non-strategic revenues, products unrelated to the business plan. This is quite understandable, since the company is as yet unfunded and scrambling for survival.  In fact, chasing opportunistic revenues can become a culture for entrepreneurs and their teams. However, once entrepreneurs have raised capital from investors, it is necessary to focus, focus, focus on the strategy of the plan. Often this transition is very difficult for the team. Investors, especially those serving as Directors, will be very effective at the new mantra – stay focused on the plan.
  2. Recruit an awesome team – Angels have large rolodexes which can be effectively utilized to find candidates to fill out the management team. As importantly, angel directors are very effective at helping in the interview and selection processes, to assure hiring the best candidates. The investor group can provide valuable assistance in this task.
  3. Identify and approach large customers and partners – Angels can also use their rolodexes and networks to identify appropriate customers and partners. More importantly, they can find key decision-makers within those important companies and often arrange introductions for the CEO and/or key team members. Networking broadly is the key to finding introductions, so use your entire set of investors to find and meet important new customers and partners.