These 11 mega-successful entrepreneurs, and members of The Oracles, share the most important piece of advice that helped them close millions of dollars in deals. Their tips will save you years of wasted effort and help you mirror their success.
1. Build a strong foundation.
If raising capital, first seek advice from investors. It’s a smart way to avoid rejection and learn how to improve your pitch deck. Execute your company goals, return with an improved pitch, and eventually, you’ll land investment (it took us three years from the first meeting).
“It took us three years from the first meeting [until we landed our first investment dollars].” –Melanie Perkins
Here are some hard lessons we learned. One, don’t promise to raise capital by a certain date; you’ll look like a failure if you don’t close the deal in time. Two, avoid needing capital. Investors ironically want to invest in companies that will succeed regardless. Three, don’t prematurely raise capital. Grow your company as far as possible alone; you’ll learn many important lessons and how to execute. Most importantly, you’ll have time to figure things out without a ticking time bomb as you ramp-up expenses. (We had our first company for five years before landing investment for Canva. This ensured we learned many critical lessons before turning up the heat.) —Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, who just doubled her company’s valuation to $345 million
2. Use tactical empathy.
When the stakes are high, they are usually high for everyone. Be reasonable, but stay firm on the issues that matter most to you. Everyone will have slightly different motivations—try to ensure you understand them all. Treat everyone fairly, lay out your concerns and issues honestly, and expect the same from others. Issues that can matter in addition to cash, debt and equity are timing, responsibilities, stakeholders, communications and future opportunities. —Tim Draper, founding partner of DFJ
3. You must be liked.
A finance mentor once told me, “Most deals are done on the golf course.” People do business with those they like. You need to be likeable. Here’s how: One, master reading personality types. Are they extroverted or introverted? What motivates them? Financial gain? Freedom? Status? Two, adjust your pitch. If I’m negotiating in China, it’s courteous to speak the language they understand. Three, like attracts like. People are more attracted as you adjust your personality to theirs. I’ve made money online and in conventional business by reminding people of their values and showing how I support their worldview. —Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses who has built an eight-figure online empire; connect with Tai on Facebook or Snapchat