Being a VC isn't about having all the answers. It's about knowing the right questions to ask and finding the right folks who can answer them
— Steve Schlafman (@schlaf) April 28, 2016
This tweet really hits home for me. As VCs and board directors we’re often assumed to have great knowledge about startups, and that’s fair enough given we’re there to help. However, we end up feeling under pressure to live up to the assumption, i.e. to look competent and to be able to help.
As I remember all too clearly, that pressure is particularly intense for younger VCs who are building their experience. We all know that sometimes the only route to success is to ‘fake it till you make it’ – and that applies just as much in venture as in other industries.
None of this is to say that it isn’t great being a VC, is. Just not great all the time.
So what should we all do?
- Investors: take Steve Schlafman’s advice and realise that going and finding an answer from someone else is almost as good as knowing it yourself, and a lot better than guessing. CEOs can usually tell anyway. Believe me.
- CEOs: instead of asking for opinions or advice ask investors for examples of similar situations to the one you’re facing.