At my latest startup, we recently acknowledged that we raised a $27.6 million Series A early in our first year, bringing our total financing to over $33 million. But before I raised a single dollar I knew that I wanted to raise "smart money."

I wanted to find individuals or companies that would add value to our business as well as adding capital. Because our business is anchored in the home space, I looked for investors with backgrounds in real estate, home improvement, social marketplaces, and other areas that could give our startup an edge. By bringing on the right people, at the right time, with an aligned vision, we have been able to tackle some great opportunities in our first year.

Having money to build your company is great, but having that money come from investors that can truly give your company an advantage over the competition is better. To help anyone looking to start a business and raise capital, here are four ways to go about raising "smart money".

1. Find investors who can do more than write a check

If you're solely looking for cash from investors, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to add value to the business. Smart investors put their money where they can have a direct influence in the success of that investment. The right individuals are willing to invest their money as well as their time, expertise, and networks.

Start by asking what your business needs to thrive. Is it connections within an industry? Is it mentorship and expertise? Whatever it is, there are most likely angel investors or venture capitalists that have exactly what you're looking for.

Then, do the hard work. Write a list of the top 50 individuals or companies you would want to partner with. Network with people they know. Start early conversations with them where you tell them what you will do, execute the plan, and then report back on performance. This strategy won't get you the fastest money, just the right financing to propel you forward.

2. Only work with investors you get along with

What good is securing funding for your startup if the relationship with the investor will be an ongoing distraction? You could be working with your investors for years; you need to be able to get along with them. Remember that your network of investors will be your greatest allies when you need to raise additional funding for your company. There is a mature network of angels and VCs out there and finding the right personality behind the money will only help your network grow.

3. Make sure goals and visions are aligned

There are no shortages of funding horror stories. I've had friends who have had their companies hijacked by investors when funding deals go wrong. Bringing in smart money to the business can add tremendous value, but it's crucial to clearly understand everyone's goals and vision before trading equity for cash.

Before you approach investors, be crystal clear with your company's vision and goals. Clearly communicate your approach to building the company. Not knowing your business priorities will lead to ambiguity in leadership and confusion with investors that could lead to trouble.

4. Utilize strategic partnerships

If your company is young, partnering with an established business may give you access to things like distribution, credibility, and more funding. When done right, a smart strategic partnership can accelerate the business faster than just money alone. Strategic partnerships should be built upon shared visions, a good cultural fit, and a shared agreement to maintain autonomy. Keep in mind that for a strategic partnership to be sustainable, you need to have agreeable goals.

The most important thing to remember when seeking funding for your company is that investors aren't just investing in your business, they are investing in you. Do your homework, be informed, and have a strategy. We all have limited number of opportunities to raise money and bring in partners who have largely aligned interests. To build a great company, it's critical to take advantage of these moments in time.