Few companies get up and running without a bit of private capital giving them an extra boost. Attaining that capital means impressing seasoned investors and convincing them that your business, more than any other, is worthy of their time and money. Investors also consider factors such as personality traits of the entrepreneurs.
They realise that an entrepreneur with the wrong personality can ruin the chances of a brilliant business on paper, much in the same way that an entrepreneur with a perfect personality can breathe life into a merely decent idea. These are some of the personality traits that set entrepreneurs apart in the eyes of investors:
If you come off like a snake-oil salesman desperate to get his hands on capital, you’ll immediately turn investors away. These are wealthy, involved people, and they’ve already been approached by some of the best swindlers and smooth-talkers in the business. If they feel that they’re being misled, or that you are presenting yourself as someone that you’re not, your reputation could be instantly ruined.
It’s far better to honestly admit some of your shortfalls and concerns than to try to cover them up, and it’s far better to act like your true self than to adopt a fake personality. To put it bluntly, investors have a great BS detector, so stay sincere and honest throughout all your interactions.
Charisma is an intangible quality with multiple definitions, but essentially, it’s a level of likability or charm that attracts other people. Initially, you might not consider “likability” as a key trait for running a business – after all, a business owner needs to make objective, emotionless decisions for the benefit of the business before any human interest considerations. But at the same time, entrepreneurs are leaders.
Entrepreneurs are responsible for building and maintaining the team of employees who will drive the business forward, and responsible for attracting a first round of initial clients. To do this, they need some level of charisma, and investors look for this quality in potential investments.
If you come to an investor meeting and simply run down the numbers in a monotone voice, your investors won’t be impressed. However, if you come in visibly excited about your idea, to the point where you almost can’t calm yourself down, they can’t help but contagiously “catch” some of your enthusiasm. Passion makes people work harder and more satisfied in the process of pursuing their goals. Without passion, entrepreneurs are far more likely to give up when trouble hits, and are far less willing to take essential risks to keep the business moving forward. Never be afraid to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
While charisma and passion can sometimes be associated with obnoxiousness or even arrogance, a level of humility is important to investors as well. Entrepreneurs need to be grounded with humility for several reasons.
First, they need to be willing to listen to outside opinions. As an entrepreneur, you aren’t going to know everything, and you’re going to make mistakes. Being humble enough to listen to outside insights is imperative to improve the business. Secondly, they need to understand that not everything is going to be perfect. Humble entrepreneurs understand that mistakes and pitfalls will occur, and their ideas won’t become successful overnight. This humility leads to greater long-term thinking, and more rational responses in a crisis.