Ways a Venture Capitalist Can Contribute to Your Success Beyond Direct Financing 62

Ways a Venture Capitalist Can Contribute to Your Success Beyond Direct Financing

The following article is a guest post.

The most common reason entrepreneurs aim to partner with venture capitalists (VCs) is because they need capital to take their businesses to the next level.

It’s natural if you’re mostly focused on the financial side of things. But don’t forget that a VC can fuel your success in other ways that are not directly tied to money.

Tips for Future Investment Rounds

It’s never too early to start thinking about raising more money through future investors. Your VC may have worked with some of the same investors you’re thinking about approaching soon. And might be able to give you advice on the kinds of things those all-important people will expect from your pitch.

Additionally, a a venture capitalist can lean on his or her own experience and tell you tales of seeking capital. This will allow you to learn from those personal successes or shortcomings.

Before you start approaching new investors though, ask if you can present your pitch to current investors and get their feedback. Many entrepreneurs miss out on the chance to do that. They don’t realize the resultant feedback could be invaluable and make it possible to avoid issues that might reduce the likelihood of success.

Growing Your In-Person Network

Meeting new people comes as naturally to a venture capitalist as breathing. In most cases, their success depends on how well they can get to know other individuals and build rapport with them.

You can feel confident that any venture capitalist you work with will have a larger network than you do.

Even better, that person knows people that you don’t. By partnering with you, he has shown a confidence in your product or service.

That means that if individuals have put their trust in a VC who has partnered with you, they’re also more likely to have good impressions of you and your business because they know the VC believes in it.

Mentorship Opportunities

One of the smartest things you can do as an entrepreneur is to show an openness to receiving the advice of individuals who want to mentor you.

In many cases, your VC will serve as a mentor. But people the VC knows who haven’t met you yet might also dispense valuable insights.

When you simply make it clear you’re ready to learn from people who are willing to pass what they know onto you, the knowledge gained as a result will likely be instrumental to your success.

Tips for Gaining Social Media Traction

One great thing about social media is it gives you nearly unlimited chances to connect with people and make positive impacts on them even if you never meet. Besides making your in-person network more substantial, expect that your venture capitalist could increase the size of an online social network, too.

Chris Sacca, the founder of Lowercase Capital, has funded numerous startups and provided the respective entrepreneurs with worthy advice. You can learn by example while looking at Sacca’s Facebook feed.

It’s followed by thousands of people, and Sacca regularly updates it with diverse content. In Sacca’s case, it’s not necessary to only talk about things that matter in the investing world. This professional resonates with his audience by bringing up matters that are important to society at large, thereby increasing his reach and establishing himself as a thought leader.

Hiring Assistance

Perhaps you’re at the point where you’re trying to build the upper-level management team for your startup and having some trouble convincing one of your most desirable candidates to take the job. In that case, your venture capitalist could come on board and give a big-picture perspective of a company while describing why the individual you’re courting is perfect for the job.

It also helps if your VC has clout due to being associated with several famous companies or people. The VC demonstrates by association that he or she thinks what you’re doing is very worthy and will likely result in major profits.

When a job candidate sees that an experienced VC thinks your business has what it takes, that person may realize that the option of working for you and helping to steer the establishment in its future direction is quite an appealing possibility.

Recommendations for Business Advisors

Maybe you’re in need of a lawyer, accountant, or another member of your business team and are feeling overwhelmed about which person or company to choose. After all, doing a Google search to find service providers is typically not sufficient.

However, you could let your venture capitalist know you’re ready to grow your business team and want to get in touch with people who may become your new advisors. Hopefully, the VC will have directly worked with professionals who possess the kind of knowledge you need, allowing you to feel more equipped to contact them and explain the situation.

As you can see, the things a venture capitalist can provide span beyond financing. That’s why it’s so important to deliver a polished and earnest pitch that makes a VC eager to partner in your success.

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 10

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

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Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.