Experts in Business – Where Should I Invest My Money?
Experts in Business – welcome to the first of our two part blog series with tips and real life stories for investors and businesses looking for investors. In these blogs we are interviewing Lara Morgan, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Serial Investor and Alistair Callender the Founder of GATE8 Luggage.
In our first blog Lara has answered questions sent to us from a range of small to large investors looking for help on what businesses to invest in and is a fantastic ‘through the looking glass’ piece for businesses looking for investors too. With Lara being one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs she has given some invaluable advice:
How do you interact with investors after investing?
“Actually it is not an “after investing” timing attitude. For me to invest I have probably already worked very hard to demonstrate and give the value that I can bring the companies wishing to achieve fast growth. I spend weekly time with the founder, often support at trade events, I have introduced often great people like Nigel my Finance Director, and I hope also to have already suggested significant and meaningful additions, improvements to the company.
“We are already probably in the phase of agreeing a strategy and a business plan, I work very hard to bring a powerful black book approach but also the value of systems and processes for accelerating the sales professionalism of what will already be a great product. I am very honest with the partners I have but I do find it surprising how very differently the skills of different entrepreneurs effect their potential. I am biased but I prefer to back sales people. The rest we can sort.”
Would you recommend being a silent partner or an active partner?
“It is not my style to be a silent partner unless I have a thoroughly deep trust and awareness of the company owner and they have a track record that I really want to back.”
What catalyst do you think will affect the business market going forward?
“How business has changed in the past years is astounding. Digital has to be at the centre of everything but I would also suggest the community-building competency and attitude of the brand culture remains critical.”
How long have you been investing?
“Since I sold my company Pacific Direct in 2008. The first mistake I made was investing in a field I knew very little about. That was a great start, but also a wake-up call that I needed to up my whole approach to a digital knowledge.”
How do you make a decision in who do invest in?
“People first, product next and then a genuine fit to my strategy. I want to grow product concepts and services that save time and improve lives. All of my investments do this in some shape or form.”
What are you general expectations after an initial investment from the company and the CEO?
“That they at least buy into the importance of knowing and respecting their financial performance and numbers and that they have a desire to learn and grow which can also mean take criticism and accept change fast. I am not hands off, I like product development, I think I have some decent marketing ideas and what I am most able at is driving a sales acceleration process. I was not aware how rare having a sales brain and skill set is, sadly particularly in Britain where people do not respect the professionalism nor importance of sales the way they should.”
Have you ever removed a CEO/ MD from a company before? If yes, why?
“No, but that does not mean it will not happen. I personally removed myself from the General Management role in my first big company and that was absolutely the right thing to do. I did not create as much value for the business learning the growth requirements of structure as I did bringing in sales momentum whilst professionals in General Management built the operations and support delivery systems to deliver a great customer promise.”
How involved are you with the founders after investing?
“Very involved, I’d say weekly, sometimes daily. In fact I am constantly running through a check list of how each of the companies can be doing better. I keep a record of the time I give each company so I am utterly fair related to my investment level and value.
“I do all I can to empathise with their challenges – those that I really remember being tough in my own journey. The loneliness, the juggle, the difficulty of working on a business, not in it. The people challenge, the learning challenge and the value of personal growth are all key to the founders own possibilities.”
What are your thoughts on angel investors vs high level expert investors?
“Some angels are dishonest sharks that promise too much and deliver very little value. They are out of touch, old fashioned and should not be believed – hence reference them, test their performance, check out the black book value and never sell equity lightly. Others are utterly priceless and can add enormous value and experience as well as genuinely delivering on bringing much more than the pounds of investment to the table. I have also learnt a great deal from a great private equity investor in my old company – totally different levels of investment and both can teach entrepreneurs a great deal.”
What advice would you give you investors looking to start out?
“Stick to utilizing the black book you have built from your own career success. Get involved and under the bonnet of the company you are thinking of investing in. Do a solid due diligence enough to know the business and really check out the promised value like IP critical and then for me really watch and get to know the founder and the way they behave under pressure, when things go wrong and when they personally are under stress. Decision making is also an imperative of a fast growth structure – without this ability one throttles one’s own company and damages potential to drive growth every day of delay.”
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We’ll be posting part two of our interview with GATE8 next week, then Alistair Callender, GATE8’s founder will be writing about his top tips and experiences in business. In the meantime, why not book yourself onto a 1-2-1 software demonstration of IRIS Payroll Business? Developed with small and medium-sized businesses in mind, IRIS Payroll Business is user-friendly, intuitive payroll software perfect for businesses looking to take the hassle out of payroll.
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