Of course nothing to do with Shakespeare, but an old question nevertheless. If you are starting up a new business, or expanding your current one, should you partner with an investor/VC? If you do what should you expect? The choice depends on your ambition and the success depends on your partner of choice.
From an investor’s point of view, the next 4-5 years represents an excellent recruitment market window. The market is far from buoyant but the sentiment is on an upwards curve. Like buying a house, no-one wants to buy at the peak of the market or at the bottom of a lifeless trough. But catch the market as it’s rumbling into life and you’re on to a winner. If it’s good timing for investors to get back into growth mode it’s an ideal time for business owners.
Are you ambitious? Of course you are. You are in recruitment and successful enough to contemplate starting a business or are running one already. But ambition means different things to different people. One end of the scale, “A”, could be to run a ‘lifestyle’ business with a small to medium sized team and simply be your own boss. At the other end, “Z”, it could be to grow a business to IPO. Where you are on this scale dictates what you should do.
Let’s be clear, if you are nearer “Z” than “A” on the ambition scale and you choose the right investor your chances of creating genuine wealth FAR outweigh going it alone. It’s not just the money but the decisions you make all along the journey, knowing that you have backing. It’s fully committing to plans versus trying things out cautiously. It’s structuring the company for success from the outset versus discovering along the way that you have made mistakes. It’s tax efficiencies that double your money, literally, versus getting caught out. Do you want a large piece of a small pie or a smaller piece of a large pie?
Investors are looking for ‘scalability’ in order for their investment to feel exciting. It is not just a case of making profits but of opportunity cost. To some extent investors have a choice of where to invest their funds so the greater the potential returns, the more attractive, influenced by their measure of risk, of course.
However, statistics would suggest that to grow aggressively and/or beyond the average recruitment company size of 5 to 15 consultants in a 3 to 5 year window requires funding. Bank funding is virtually impossible to come by in the present climate which leaves investors as the only option, unless you have just won the Euro Lottery! If that funding can be combined with specialist recruitment knowledge that you can draw on, then your chance of success multiplies.
Once you contemplate external funding, the big questions are:
How much equity will you sell (or split in a start up)?
For an existing business with a track record this is easier to …» Read more