3 Knockout Words For Every Investor and Entrepreneur To Use on Day One

By: Solomon Brenner, member of Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and Managing Director at Startup2angel

This post originally appeared on Startup2angel.

They all sounded good. All of them. I entered the world of angel investing 18 months ago and came to the immediate conclusion that every company seemed like a good idea. It’s like when I first started training in karate and thought every punch would result in a knockout. Surely, every opportunity wasn’t going to be the instant knockout investment success. Considering I couldn’t – and obviously shouldn’t – invest in all of them, I started looking for places with tips that I could use to help analyze each option.

I didn’t find many resources with this kind of advice.

By asking questions to more experienced angels, I became more discriminating. Leaders in business, consulting and angel investing had tons of experience and shared their valuable advice along the way. I struck up conversations, invited people to lunch and chatted often with new contacts. I wanted to know everything they knew.

The good news is that now that I have gained so much knowledge from these experts, I want to share it.

I recently spoke to Malcolm Handelsman of Do It Right consulting. He has been successful in the corporate world, as a private retail business owner and a consultant to businesses. He has been one of my mentors through this process. I interviewed him recently for this blog, and he shared the 3 things that he looks for in a business to make it a success. It’s 3 simple words: Faster, Better, Cheaper. “Are you really providing a solution that’s better? Is it really changing someone’s habits, making their life easier. Faster better cheaper.” This advice is so simple, yet it is an easy way to bridge the communication gap between an investor and entrepreneur. The entrepreneur should walk in showing how their product meets at least two of these criteria. The entrepreneur should walk in asking questions to be sure the opportunity meets these criteria. Both sides benefit from considering these 3 factors.

This is a lesson that will stick with me, much like those early days of training in karate. I remember I thought my kicks were powerful, my punches were like lasers. I couldn’t miss. I looked like Bruce Lee in training. By the time I got sparring gear, I had enough repetitions on the targets and heavy bags that I was ready. That is, until I faced an actual opponent. I didn’t realize how I flinched before every kick, how I didn’t keep up my guard, that my power wasn’t quite on the level of an instant knockout. My opponent landed shot after shot. It was only after getting hit that I realized all the different angles and movements I needed to consider. Angel investing is much the same way. Only after getting beat up by failed pitches or poor investment decisions do we get back up and make smarter decisions.

 This blog will help you make smarter decisions at the start. You can learn from the mistakes other people made. When I teach karate, I tell people my failures to help them focus on correct technique.

Is this blog for entrepreneurs or investors? The answer: both, along with everyone else who aims to be part of this business world. Malcolm’s advice that works on both sides, for the entrepreneur and the investor. My goal is to be a resource for the ecosystem I’m part of, which is both.

 After that first day of sparring, I realized I need to keep my hands up at all times. I realized I needed to be intentional with every move. There were always new techniques and insights to learn from different martial artists, and the same is true in the angel world.

Tomorrow, I’ll post more advice from Malcolm n part 2 of our interview: Do you go with the visionary leader or operational leader?

Note about malcolm 30+ years of financial and operations experience in public and private companies. Malcolm is a lifelong entrepreneur and have both started and managed businesses. After college, Malcolm obtained his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and begin his career in the corporate world, working for National Intergroup as an Auditor and at Mellon Bank in their Real Estate Finance Department. During this time he also obtained his CPA certification. In 1986 Malcolm started Gram & Gramps Children’s store, catering to children and Grandparents-selling toys and clothing-and was a household name in the Pittsburgh Market for over 20 years. In 2010, he was recruited by Morgan Stanley to become a Financial Advisor, but realized his heart was in the business and entrepreneurial world. In the fall of 2011 he started Do It Right, helping Entrepreneurs and Early Stage companies understand the methods and processes needed to grow a successful business, and helping them raise the necessary capital to grow their business. He has worked with several start-up companies over the last two years helping them realize their dream. His key strengths include financial management, strategic planning, marketing, revenue and business modeling and business development, working primarily with technology and consumer product companies.