In May, Shazi Visram sold her organic food company Happy Family to Danone--the only acquirer she had ever been willing to consider. Technically, that wasn't the only option she had. She could have tried to go public, but that would have meant she wouldn't have had a strategic partner. What about private equity? Now that would have been a cop-out, she says.
Here are her tips on getting through the growth phase--without selling your soul to private equity.
1. Find world-class advisers who have done what you want to do. Learn from great examples of how you can do what you want to do your way.
2. Be ready to do more work. It's harder and takes more work to raise money from individuals. But it can be done--many people seek the emotional reward of supporting something socially responsible. So pitch and pitch and pitch. When you get investments, it will be from people who believe in you and your vision and want to be a part of it.
3. Create a phenomenal team you trust. Constantly think about whether your staff can do what you need today and also tomorrow. Match your vision of the future with that of the people on your team. When you have great advisers, great investors, and a great team, you don't need private equity: You have everything.