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Blog: Blog

Updated: Feb 14

Seed money – to borrow or not to borrow from family? Early in my career I heard directly from a guest lecturer, an entrepreneur, “don’t take money from family.” This person then reiterated, “whatever you do, DON’T". The point was belabored, enough to where it stuck with me and then, I went on to completely ignore their advice.

If you are already in a family business or have taken money from friends and family to start your business, you know that it can be challenging. So how can you continue down the path of borrowing or working with this close group and still emerge on the other side with your relationships in tact?

1. Establish expectations - When expectations are agreed upon (up front) it lessens frustration. Consider formalizing borrowing conditions and plan to communicate progress in routine investor updates. Communication is key to any successful venture, this includes sharing difficult news along with the good. Avoid going dark on the people that believed in you enough to sign over savings. Also, clearly articulate individual areas of responsibility with visibility into activities and accountability for results.

2. Guidance - You can only go to friends and family for so long before they may begin to question why they lent you the money in the first place. Seek subject matter experts or other business owners (particularly in a specific field related to your area of need). Consider joining a mastermind group or organize a dinner ‘club’ – the later sounds antiquated however breaking bread in an informal gathering with other business owners can help you reset, refuel and lead to relaxed conversation around solving some of your pressing concerns. This group will get ‘it’ and you need these people.

3. Fuel yourself – Just as your body can get tired and sore, so can your spirit. Don’t ignore what makes you your best - your team (including investors) will be taking signals from you. The well-being of a founder is intertwined with their business. Entrepreneurship is tough and many seasoned founders will attest to having ignored their own needs early on. Learn from this and take care of yourself along the way. You’ll be better for it and this will reflect in your business.

4. Have non-work topics on the ready - The day to day largely follows you to gatherings. An incessant string of business matters to attend to along with curious, well-meaning loved ones may result in never ending business talk encircling you. If you don’t want to forfeit the friends and family time that made you close before going in business together but your tired of all the work talk, offer up an alternative. Be ready to ask questions or share takeaways from books, shows, etc. that you have taken in. Point being, don’t lose interest in the things that initially made you interesting. Have other topics at the ready. This may feel silly, but it works when your brain can only think about your business.

5. Gratitude and realism - Adopt a pragmatic approach. You did this to yourself (after all the ignored advice) so be consistent with incorporating the above suggestions. You’ve got this. Also, maintain a spirit of gratitude - you are fortunate to have people believe in you so much that they would literally invest in you!

All ventures have ups and downs and investors shoulder the journey with you. Are you ready to share the ride with your friends and family? Are they? Communication is at the center of all relationships. Remember this as you journey through highs and lows – difficult news should travel as fast if not faster than the good.

Some of life’s greatest gifts include sharing experiences with our people - our friends and family. As you go through your seed round, who do you want on this journey with you?

In 2014 I was five years into taking a business nationwide. We opened 50 markets in a 12 month period of time, developed a predictive valuation tool to value inventory and were powering the backend for some of the countries most notable vehicle search engines. I had another business going at the time and I was pregnant with my second child. Did I mention I was exhausted? Within this time (about a month before Christmas) I was at a technology conference listening to Sheryl Sandberg discuss her Lean In initiative. I was a million months pregnant, hoofing it around San Francisco to meet with our with our partners and was ready to kick back and take in Sheryl’s keynote. As I settled in to the session, I noticed a call coming in from my parent organization, the company that was funding me. I stepped out to take the call. Due to the time change, it would have been unusually late - something was urgent. It turns out the call was to inform me that the board wanted a change in direction. I was to wind down the business. Just.Like.That.

While sitting in a session with one of the worlds most influential business leaders, discussing the initiative to “Lean In”, I received a call to Get Out.

Offers followed to buy our business. I was tempted but it wasn’t the right move. Accepting a deal would have been taking the option out of fear of becoming irrelevant, not having more work after baby vs. a true opportunity to charge toward. I paused.

I went on to partner with experienced tech founders. We developed an industry changing business and three year

s after being told to get out while listening to Sheryl, we sold the company to the very group that called me and told me to hang it up! I led the discussions.

My story illustrates that scary things happen but it doesn’t have to be where the story ends. Also, relationships are everything. If I had blown up on those involved in my initial funding, I may not have preserved the relationships that helped me secure our exit down the road. You absolutely never know what future role you’re currently being evaluated for. So, keep going, protect your reputation and preserve your relationships. You’ve got this. 💪

This time last year I was walking on sunshine. Literally. I was in the US Virgin Islands enjoying a post-holiday reprieve, fresh off my run at a fast paced startup that had been acquired. I was ready to catch my breath and turn my focus on new opportunities the year could bring. What transpired in the coming months were events I never saw coming, yet had unknowingly been readying for. The thing about the unknown, the future or what tomorrow holds, is that it is chalked full of uncertainty.

Developing a business often carries loads of uncertainty and inevitably results in change for both the company and one’s personal growth. I used a time of relative calm in my own journey to strengthen myself for what the future could hold. Struggle is a given in life, there will be surprises along the way and I wanted to prepare the best I could for unknowns. Whatever I could sure-up emotionally, spiritually, professionally, within my marriage - I did. Even the biggest storms struggle to rock a solid foundation and this is exactly what I wanted, a solid foundation for whatever could come my way.

Entering the new year, I was thrilled to immerse myself in new creative ventures. I was working with founders and execs on their business ideas. Meeting with investors and newly exited CEO's that were looking to give back. I had renewed focus and energy to pour into others. All of this meant that coming into the new year was, well, a ton of fun.

All of this fun also meant that I was coming across new opportunities to plug in - as an investor of my own human and financial capital. All of this while being fresh out of the job I left.

Some playful ribbing from my husband suggested the timing of my wanting to invest while having just shut off my income was well, risky. My husband being the pragmatic one. We're competitive (we met on a college swim team after all) so it took a second for me to come back with the suggestion that we knock down expensive line items from our budget and a pricey life insurance policy for my husband was right up there. To obtain a new policy, an MRI was necessary to expunge a decades ago "pre-existing" concern that never amounted to anything. With this concern wiped clean, the policy's premium would be reduced. Plan in place.

It turns out, the job I walked away from would initiate a string of events that would change our lives forever.

The MRI was scheduled. Results came back. There was a brain tumor. What?? This would require surgery. Stunned. Playful ribbing around an investment that led to a financial discussion which led to an MRI would now lead to brain surgery. I'll jump ahead, this story ends happily. We can breathe.

In what would become the first of many miracles over the next few months, my husband works for a neurosurgery group. The best in the nation. His colleagues would be providing care. We were in great hands with access to enormous resources. Also, new to our hospital was an intraoperative MRI machine. This technology is transforming outcomes of tumor surgery resulting in more accurate and less invasive treatment. The machine, which Mike was involved in acquiring years and months before any of this was on our radar would go in and be fully operational one week before Mike's procedure. He would be the first patient.

Testing began to map my husband's brain to ensure that a procedure could be done safely and with limited to no impairment. My bright, ambitious, strong, father of two, friend to many, COO of a neuro group, loving husband was having to go through this. Neuropsych testing, functional MRI's, you name it, it was done. How many of us have the freedom of trying to park our issues or concerns while we go to work or leave them at work when we go home? Mike was dealing with brain concerns while working for a group that treats brains! Suddenly tumor talk was everywhere, all the time.

A child psychologist was consulted, our children were informed, we set a surgery date. Our daughter's birthday was going to be a week after surgery. How do we pull this off and not scar our children forever? Will Mike be ok?

The hospital arranged for me to have a private waiting room during surgery. Mike was brave, I agonized as he was wheeled off. After a few hours and what should be near the end of the surgery, I was awaiting a call that everything went well. I had spent the time that Mike was in surgery toggling in and out of prayerful meditation and tears. It was hard to breath, I felt like I was sitting under an elephant. This next part is difficult to put into words so I'll just tell you what happened - out of 'nowhere', I experienced an overwhelming calm. I suddenly heard, knew and felt that everything was going to be ok with Mike. The wave of peace was so surreal that I paused, wondering if I should tell Mike's parents (who were sitting right across from me) about it. They were in agony over what their son was enduring, wouldn't this sound ridiculous? But knowing what I had experienced was so certain, I shared it. To my relief, this experience brought comfort. Moments later, Mike's surgeon turned the corner and shared that the surgery was a success. Chills. Praise God.

Mike's recovery was swift. Seeing a towering man walk laps around the hospital floor, determined to bounce back brought the physicians and nurses to tears. There was such admiration. I remember seeing Mike walk, hoping his head would clear the low hanging exit signs. It was a sight to behold. His first morning back home I searched the bed for him in a panic, where was he? I looked down and found him doing planks. Planks! On the first day home from invasive brain surgery. He was going to be fine! More than fine. We were going to kick the $h*t out of recovery.

Throughout we received enormous love and support from family and friends. Mike was back at work in record time. We came out on the other side of uncertainty, better for the wear.

Needless to say, "didn't see this coming" could be an anthem. Not every blind corner has something scary in store, but unknowns are a given. Are you ready?

The events that resulted in my being able to walk away from a company I helped build were ultimately leading me to create healthy space in my life. Space I used to support my family during a time of uncertainty. I couldn't have known that only a few short months in to a fresh new year, the year would take a turn. But isn't this life? Full of winding paths with twists, turns and the occasional dip? If you aren't ready, get ready. Time is precious, your gifts too valuable to not use them at their fullest. A positive mindset, faith and putting in the work in before it was even necessary to draw upon got us through. We are better not bitter for it.

Now, as I kick-off another new year, picking up with renewed entrepreneurial ambition, I'm walking on sunshine again. It's actually raining as I write this but the world is bright around me and I'm / we're ready to go! Let's do this.

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