216. What You Can and Can’t Control

VC Minute
There's so much in fundraising that you cannot control. Focus on what you can control and it will help what you can't control fall into place.

VC Minute – quick advice to help startup founders fundraise better

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Alex Ryden:

Fundraising when you’re running out of cash and you have people relying on you, there’s not a lot of people I wish that situation on and that feeling. It’s just this really tough feeling.

I don’t know the best analogy for it, but it’s like, you’re riding a bike down a street and you can only control how fast the bike’s going and whether or not you fall but then, you know there’s a car behind you that can go a lot faster and run you over and you can’t control it. And that’s the runway when you’re fundraising.

I can only control so many conversations, and I can only go so fast on this bike, but this is the best I can do and hopefully someone will let me dip into the garage or whatever it is to save you from this car. But the car speeding up behind you.

You feel like you have so much responsibility, but in reality, the founder can control a lot less than they think they can. And I think you’re trained to think by everyone around you, you can control this outcome, you can control everything. A lot of times founders can’t control it.

And there’s people that do run out of money and can’t fundraise. It’s just tough to be in that situation and have to message positivity to your investors and your employees on one end. But then, try to figure out what is really happening here and it just takes a couple of people to commit, but the clock keeps ticking behind you.

We had to do a 30 percent RIF and it’s just so hard. You’re like, well, if we had closed a little sooner, we wouldn’t have had to do that. I started to see a therapist through this process and he gave to me which is this concept of, I think it’s stoicism, but it’s your concept of your external locus of control and your internal locus of control.

And the external are all the things you can’t control, but are happening. Like, will I close this round? Will I have to do layoffs? All of these things that you wish you could just control and just be like, no, we’re not going to do layoffs or we are going to close.

As a founder, you’re so focused on that external stuff where in reality, you have very little control over it. But then there’s the internal locus of control. Which is, how many people can I email today? What’s my attitude in pitch conversations? What’s my attitude to the team in all hands meetings? Those are the things that you can control.

I found by focusing on the things that I actually had real control over, the other things started to have better outcomes, even though I couldn’t control them. But if you’re just obsessing over when’s this round going to close, then all the internal stuff totally falls in the wrong direction.

And you’re a more negative person, or you don’t end up being motivated to send more emails out to get more meetings. The process starts to fall apart. Don’t focus on the outcome of fundraising, but just continue to focus on building a great business and everything else will fall into place the way it’s meant to be.

Rich Maloy:

Amazing. Thank you, Alex. First of all, for sharing that you found a therapist through this process. I believe that having a therapist is an essential part of living a healthy and balanced life.

I also love the internal and external locus of control. Focus on the things that you can control, and it may help to drive outcomes for the things that you cannot. Before we wrap up, let’s delve into what sets AVL Growth Partners apart.

AVL’s team brings significant years of finance and accounting expertise. They ensure your path to success is crystal clear. AVL starts with a comprehensive business evaluation, uncovering opportunities and mapping actions to both your short and longterm goals.

Their evaluations are crafted from over a decade of experience pivoting companies from growth to scale. If you want to take your company to the next level and need the experience required to make it happen. Visit AVL growth.com right now.

And as Alex said earlier this week, time truly is our most precious asset. Thank you for spending some of it with us this week.

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About AVL Growth Partners
AVL Growth Partners, founded in 2009, is the leading fractional Finance and Accounting firm supporting organizations in pivoting from growth to scale. AVL brings an experienced team of CFOs, Controllers, and Accountants to your organization, delivering transparent, strategic actions for short and long-term success. Transform your financial approach affordably with AVL, supporting companies coast to coast – get to know AVL Growth Partners at avlgrowth.com. (Sponsored)

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