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Just focus on what you can control

A lot of people (including me) are really depressed by the constantly declining stock market.  For some businesses, it does have an impact.  If you are trying to raise money, the freefall in the public markets can make it difficult.  Investors use the public market as a barometer.  New commitments are measured against the public market valuations.  If those keep heading down, a new deal can look too expensive.  It's also tough trying to raise money for a new fund as many institutional investors base their asset allocation decisions on the value of their public market holdings.

VCs and private equity investors who have funds committed have the capital to invest, but at what price?  That certainly makes later stage deals very hard to price.  Early stage deals are usually done at more or less the same price, regardless of market conditions.  But, it's difficult to know what type of businesses will be able to build some initial revenue traction when overall spending is down.

As an entrepreneur, you have to focus on what you can control.  If you need to raise money, figure out how to stretch your current cash as much as possible.  Make sure you can show potential investors as much revenue traction as possible.  Hopefully, your existing investors are willing to carry the company if new investors won't commit.  Make sure your monthly burn rate is absolutely as low as possible so you can make this burden a bit lighter for your investors.

If you have some money in the bank, don't be complacent.  Cut your spending down to push out your 'out of cash date' as far out as possible.  Focus your efforts on generating revenue and reducing the risk in your business.  Cut out non-critical projects and marketing efforts.  It may be difficult to cut staff, but you need to get rid of exta headcount in order to give the remaining employees the best chance of success.  And, most importantly, act NOW.  Don't wait for your cash balance to dwindle or your investors to get upset.  Be proactive.  Every extra dollar you save by acting quickly is money you can spend building some value.

Don't fall into the trap of avoiding expense cuts because "if things turn around, we'll be glad we kept these resources around".  I'll take the risk of having to re-hire new people vs. the risk overspending.  Once that money is gone, it's gone for good.  On the other hand, nothing reinvigorates a company coming out of tough times like hiring a few new people.

I may come across as being panicked.  I'm actually not.  I think that things will be tough for a long time, but that doesn't mean that there are no opportunities.  The opportunities will go to the swift and the lean.  Make sure that you're one of them.


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