I’m scared of taking money…

I have a team, we build stuff people pay us for, there are more people to pay us if we call/meet more of them. I need capital to stop calling these people and start focusing on a product that can significantly change peoples lives while meeting payroll, but I am SCARED TO NO END of taking other people’s money and losing it; especially people I respect which are the only people I would take money from.

I know plenty of people who take money and justify it as others getting access to returns later on, for risk today, but this is bullshit, especially when you see some of the mismanagement that goes on in startups eg: launch/holiday parties, mis-hiring, mis-firing, etc…

I have seen friends fail and lose investors money and I know that I couldn’t handle letting someone down that much; I just couldn’t look them in the eye after making the promises I would need to make. It’s not a self-esteem issue, it’s a reality issue; there is a good chance I will fail and lose someone’s money, but I will fail faster if I take the money instead of funding growth with revenue that I have actually earned and is entirely mine to lose.

Amazing how one man’s seemingly noble personal values keep an entire group of people from reaching their full potential.

  • A.) Moving from services to product can be a difficult pivot. Maybe it’s not even possible and you should continue on your current path while bootstrapping your product.

    B.) Investors know what they risk. They know they will lose money 9 times out of 10 on early stage ventures. That’s really not your problem beyond not being wasteful/negligent.

    • It is my problem because I am not telling them they will lose their money, I am giving my word that they will make it back ten fold.

    • To use an over-used, slightly douchey, yet very true phrase in this context: it’s not personal, it’s just business. Just as the first commenter pointed out, venture investors know the realties of investing in your company. 9/10 they won’t earn a positive or meaningful return. Don’t beat yourself up over the prospect of losing investors’ money, it’s part of this game. If you believe in your company and need capital to grow, go raise some cash.

  • You need to be clear and honest with them up front about the opportunity you see, the assumptions you’re making about the future and how you’ll be spending you’re money to try seize the opportunity if your assumptions are correct (which you’ll be testing).

    If you do all that, and they want to invest, then you’re both placing a bet: you’re betting your time/opportunity cost/emotional stability/reputation and they’re betting money (on you and on the opportunity.) Continue to be honest and professional with them throughout the process, and there’s nothing to be scared of.

  • You over-idealize VCs: They are not Gods, they’re managing other people’s money and
    they get that every startup is a risk, even those that start out making money like yours. And even conservative financiers like banks understand that no investment or loan channel provides positive returns 100% of the time.

    In your reply to comment #1, you say “It is my problem because I am not telling them they will lose their money, I am giving my word that they will make it back ten fold”.
    Uh, NO. All any grounded founder does is affirm to do his/her best to grow the company, minimize risk, given that *nobody can guarantee success. If your startup actually has mega-potential, I wonder if you’re the right CEO to take it there, given your cluttered perspective. You may be the right starter but not necessarily right finisher.

  • I feel exactly the same way as the post author. I am scared of taking money. I run a ‘successful’ startup – 5 years alive, funding product development with revenue. If we take money I can finish the product faster (although increasing the risk we get it wrong as well) – or I can continue to fund product development through revenue (and get the feature set right)… and grow slower. We are break-even and with minimal debt this year with just shy of $1M in recurring revenue. If we had a capital investment of $500K we could probably double or triple that revenue in 18 months.- the temptation is to do a convertible debt round with friends and family – of that I am terrified of losing their money and have a feeling that I’d likely spend a lifetime trying to repay it if I lost it. That’s a dramatic feeling I know – but that’s just the way it is…. as it is – I do not want to take VC money as that correlates directly to a loss of control. Friends and family is my preferred option – but as it makes me uncomfortable we continue to fund product development with revenue. Mistake? That’s what keeps me up at night.

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