Winter? We haven’t even hit July 4. However, as savvy entrepreneurs know, whether striving for the Iron Throne or building a business, you need to focus one eye on the present while the other looks into the future to prepare for winter. Whether it’s adding to your treasury, strengthening your talent army, or sharpening your sales and marketing engine, our experience has taught us that entrepreneurs who use the summer wisely thrive when the seasons inevitably change.
The fact that the VC world tends to cool off in the summer months can be frustrating to an entrepreneur looking to prepare for a fall capital raise. So, how should entrepreneurs approach the months before the weather turns? From what we see, there are still many ways to leverage the summer season:
1. Build relationships
When you are looking for VC support, the summer months can be a prime time for relationship building. While you may not be able to schedule a meeting with all of the partners needed to make a decision, you can use the time to build support for your startup within a venture firm at multiple levels. Non-partners are helpful in driving consensus and routing you to the right sponsoring partner. Also, investing time before a fundraise enables you to build trust and get a feel for what a future working relationship with a VC might look like without the distraction of fundraising.
2. Prepare financials and diligence requests
In addition to the relationship aspect, the summer months are an opportunity to get your financial model and operating metrics in order for a fall fundraise. Ideally, you want to have already prepared answers to 90 percent of VC diligence requests before you start your fundraising process. You can also use the summer to practice your investor pitch with “friendlies” so you can refine as needed.
3. Strengthen your army
Not all businesses follow the same cycles, but generally speaking, summer is a slower time for sales as well. As a result, summer can be a great time to focus on hiring and training reps, building your marketing pipeline and focusing your attention on customer success. These investments can pay quick dividends as your sales and marketing militia march into Q4 quota battles.
4. Check in on your annual plan
Summer naturally provides a good opportunity to look holistically at Q1 and Q2 - what has worked, what needs improvement and where should you focus your resources. At the halfway point of the year, you have enough data to know if you will hit your annual targets and you still have enough time to course correct if you aren’t on track. Whether you sit down with your Master of Coin to review financials, meet with your management or conduct an off-site with the full team, let summer be a time for high-level review and reflection.
5. Stock your supplies
Last but not least, find some time this summer to recharge in whatever way works best for you. Much like entrepreneurship, fundraising is a journey. You will meet many people and have many conversations as you evaluate who will be the right partner to help your business flourish. One of the things we wholeheartedly believe is that the connection between an entrepreneur and VC firm should extend far beyond just contributing capital. Taking the time to truly unplug and reset will make this process all the more productive and enjoyable.
As you enjoy the sun of our current summer, remember to use the time wisely for winter is coming. The real question is whether winter will only last for 3 months.