Many clients at my independent wealth management firm, LexION Capital, are business owners and founders themselves. Their work ranges across industries as diverse as financial services to the arts to medicine.

I advise them on every aspect of their financial lives, and I can speak from a dual perspective--I'm a financial advisor and investing expert with over a decade of Wall Street experience. I'm also a fellow entrepreneur, so I know what it's like to build a business from the ground up.

As entrepreneurs, our particular fields of work may be different, but the core financial concerns inherent in building a business are the same.

Value your own time

Exchanging expertise with a fellow professional is a win-win. It builds community and connection within your network, and it's a savvy way to get a lot of top-notch expertise for not a lot of money. But giving your time away for nothing is a mistake, and I see entrepreneurs making it all the time.

I've been guilty of it myself. I once did so much research for a client that it pretty much amounted to consulting. It started as a courtesy, but the client took it for granted and kept asking for more, expected a rapid response and never even paid for it. That kind of concierge environment is common on traditional Wall Street, so I deliberately moved away from it when I founded LexION Capital.

Giving away your time is the same as giving away your product or your services. If it's not an even exchange, then ask yourself, "How much is my time worth, and am I getting paid for this?"

Investors invest in the jockey, not the horse

I didn't take funding for LexION, but I've seen a consistent pattern of success with fellow entrepreneurs who do. Investors don't pore over the detailed presentation that you spent so long perfecting. They understand your story, they get it, and they invest--or they don't.

Founders need to know how to frame their stories, and pinpoint what others find interesting and compelling about it. People instinctively respond to, resonate with, and remember people. They rarely do that with companies, if at all.

The most successful companies often start small

Airbnb is valued in the billions, but at first, it was funded with the founders' credit cards. When those were maxed out in 2008, the founders made novelty cereal boxes by hand for the 2008 presidential election, and used the money to keep their company afloat. This resourcefulness caught the attention of investors, and it was what led to funding. The rest is history.

Venture capital investments make great headlines. They don't make successful companies. Successful companies are scrappy and nimble at every stage of the game, and that's what has a force multiplier effect.

Smart money is just that--smart.

Published on: May 29, 2015