You’ve put in sweat and tears to grow and expand your business. It started as a small idea and now it has turned into a profit-generating operation that has withstood the test of time. Should you let investors become involved with something you’ve built from the ground up? When is the right time to take investment funds? How do you find the “perfect” partner? I’ve sought investors for two of my companies—one with reluctance and the other with ambition.
In my first company, an internet software business I founded during the dot-com boom, I took on investors too late. I had taken on investors who were active in both investing money and providing insights into my business. But I soon found that they lacked domain expertise in my industry, as well as physical availability to meet and discuss the growing daily needs of my business.
About six months ago, I engaged private equity investors to assist me in the future growth of Fetch! Pet Care. Until that point, I had independently operated the company for nine years and, in that time, grew it to the nation’s largest dog walking and pet sitting franchise with 150 locations in 32 states. When I compared my team and the company’s financial resources to the growth I felt we could achieve, it became clear to me that we would need to enhance both in order to take my business to the next level. This time around, I overcame the mistakes I made years ago and clearly defined what investors could do for my business and why it was the right time.
In order to determine who I would select as an investor in Fetch! Pet Care, I examined my personal strengths and abilities, as well as my weaknesses, and defined specifically what I needed from an investor. This is a rather introspective process, in that I had to be honest with myself and put the welfare of my business ahead of my ego.
I then looked at what skillsets were needed in my company in order for it to thrive. I determined that, in addition to wanting a cash investment, I clearly needed an investor who would serve as a partner, providing skills and resources that I did not inherently have access to. I did not want a minority investor, nor a majority investor, but rather an equal partner. With these criteria in mind, I was clear on the types of investors I was looking for. This ultimately helped to shorten the due diligence and investment cycle timeline.
While I was hoping to bring on good investors in a reasonable time frame, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and effectively I could find great investors by simply focusing my attention and efforts on producing the exact outcome that I was seeking. It is my experience that this type of planning and focus is the secret to finding just the right investor.
Our partners bring several strengths to complement my own, such as proven experience in accounting, operations, and franchise sales, and they are actively managing and growing multiple franchise concepts. The investors in Fetch! Pet Care provide the framework for professionally managing our company, which was important to me during the decision-making process. We meet regularly, and they are willing to roll up their sleeves to tackle both the opportunities and challenges of the company so that we can produce the most ideal outcome for the business as efficiently as possible. As a result, in a very short period of time, we have been able to address many of our key challenges and outline our direction for the future. Without these investors, I would likely still be trying to figure that out.
Paul Mann is the founder and chief executive officer of Fetch! Pet Care (www.fetchpetcare.com).