Canoe team

Getting investors on your side doesn’t end with the actual investment. In fact, that’s just the beginning of a complex and often frustrating relationship for business owners.

It’s a subject that I think about several times a day – how do you deal with investors? It’s their money on the line and they clearly want you to be successful, but keeping them off your back as you try to run the business can zap all of your momentum and cripple the business.

Over the years, I’ve developed some basic business development guidelines about how to keep your business and your sanity. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a founder, advisor, investor and a board member for a number of companies at various stages in their development, which means I’ve seen the most common business development (BD) problems from many angles.

My latest venture, Wanderful Media, brings together 12 holding companies representing about 500 newspaper publishers from every corner of the nation.

Christopher Tippie, who was the acting CEO of ShopCo Holdings, did the initial deal to buy Travidia (the company that is now Wanderful Media) before I came on board. He brought all these competing investing interests together in one deal. It could have been a nightmare, but he made it work.

Three Actions To Take When Forming a Deal

We started out with an investment deal that served as the cornerstone for all our other agreements. The point was to start out with the few areas where everyone could say yes, or at least not say no.

Once we had a deal in place, there were three actions I had to take right away to establish my relationship with the investors for the long term.

Action 1 – Talk to the guys who have seen this movie before.

I knew that some of the individuals involved in the deal would probably end up on our board. I made sure that they were the ones who had actually done this kind of thing before. They had seen how a successful deal like this had played out.

At this level, executives tend to disappear after 24 months, so we had to work fast and find the right ones. We knew we had to find guys who were stable and develop long-term relationships with them. Getting the right people on your side is all about understanding individuals, their previous experience and their staying power.

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