During my career, I have helped numerous businesses in creating their business plans and acquire their initial funding. Though most of the time, I have connected these new business owners with the venture capitalists (VCs) that I knew, it might not be the right kind of the funding option for many businesses. Following are the few reasons for that.
Selling your equity: I don’t think that giving up your equity is necessarily a pitfall if your investors have the knowledge and the contacts required for your business. VCs can sometimes help you build a thriving and growing business. But they can have many pitfalls as well. Most VC firms require you to give up an equity position. It won’t be small part of your business as well, most of the times they are looking for at least 30-60%of the equity in your business. If you (by chance) choose a wrong investor, then it might create future problems while selling your company.
No immediate funding: Unlike the bank loans and other kind of funding, VC’s funding is not immediately available. Most of the VCs set goals and milestones for the release of funds. 80% of the time, funding is released in stages and is usually allocated for growth and expansion of the business. I’m editorializing here, but expansion with an eye toward sale or public offering might not always be the best kind of growth.
You are not the only manager: Most of the time, VCs want to be added as a member of your company’s executive team. Don’t get me wrong, this is not always the worst thing to happen. If this is your first business venture, an experienced VC on your executive group will be a huge help. But you can also be put in a difficult situation, if you guys have any disagreement regarding a decision. Most of the VCs wants to lead the company to the path that will reap their anticipated financial reward, not necessarily the best decisions for the company’s future.
Business secrets become public: When you approach a bank or other small business finance company, it’s customary to expect that they will sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding your business plan and what you want to do. This is not the case with venture capitalists. As I have mentioned earlier, most of the VCs want to be invested in the company in the executive position, or as a decision maker, and hence, most of the time they refuse to sign such agreements.
You can’t call all the shots anymore: Don’t get me wrong. Having multiple people on your board of advisory will help you to understand multiple opinions (view points), and then take an educated decision. But if you happen to choose a wrong investor for some reason, that might not workout well for you. One of the biggest challenge that you will face after accepting the funds from a venture capitalists is to give up many of the key decision taking powers, which you would otherwise have. VCs usually want a lot of influence over key decisions and they don’t always agree with the founder. Their equity position gives them a seat at the table when it’s time to make important decisions.
I hope, my view points will help you to think twice before accepting some kind of a funding from VCs. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my blog.
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi