Your business: Grow it and hold it?

Taking money from professional investors such as angels or VCs usually requires that you agree to seek an exit for those investors in your plan, often targeting five to seven years as the ideal period for growth before a liquidity event.

Of course, even though that is your contract with the investors, way over half of those implied contracts never work out that way.

It is perfectly OK for you to want to grow your company and plan to keep control for you and your offspring, with no intention to sell.  There’s a name for this.  We say that you are growing an evergreen enterprise, one in which outside money is to be taken in the form of loans or royalty agreements, not shares of stock or ownership.

[Email readers, continue here…] If you have no intention of giving up ownership or even control over time, state that early and plan accordingly.  Assume that your sources of growfunding will be limited, but that one hundred percent of less is perhaps more attractive than fifty percent of more, given the restrictions usually placed upon management of companies using outside investment funds.

One thing that becomes obvious when there are no investors looking over your shoulder is that you can plan for a pacing of your    growth, focusing upon long term strategies that might be very comfortable for you but not so much for outside investors.  (You may recall my story of the company that was forced to grow to death by a famous venture capital investor expecting massive profit or nothing, with no expectations in between.)

Evergreen companies can focus upon profit as more important than rapid growth, upon customer service above immediate profit, and upon people first before all of these.  For some, that comfort is worth forgoing building high equity value.

In fact, sometimes entrepreneurs will do better financially just taking profits over the long run that they might have building equity for an ultimate sale.

 

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2 Responses to Your business: Grow it and hold it?

  1. Jess Jessop says:

    Thanks again for a thought provoking article. My question is: is there a middle path? Can you have the high $ investors required for rapid growth and plan long term?

    Are there VCs who actually, not just words, have a longer event horizon? Eternity Archive is a enterprise that is all about the long view and our current plan of 5-7 years to liquidity feels a bit artificial and rushed. But what can you do? We have to play with pieces we are given.

  2. One way to accomplish this is to “repay” your investors initial investment as profits allow. Though they retain their equity you remove much of their urgency for a financial event and assure their not losing money on the deal. This can also be a vehicle to negotiate away other unwanted concessions made during the funding process.

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