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How to Convince People to Invest in You

June 28, 2013, 12:00 AM

Entrepreneurship is defined by Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson as "the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control." Sow what does that mean? 

It means that in order to be successful, you need to do more than just design a good product. You need to be persuasive.

In other words, why should I go to the prom with you instead of him?

Three key stakeholder groups are asking you this question: customers, employees and investors. Why are customers better off buying your product? Why are employees better off working for you rather than with an established company? Why should investors part with their money? Is this a real opportunity?

The bottom line, Stevenson tells Big Think, is that entrepreneurs have to be able "to convey a future vision of the world and then help people believe that vision of the world is possible."

So how do you go about this?

Stevenson breaks this down to three things you need to demonstrate. 

1. What I am doing is important. I am not just setting up another lemonade stand. 

2. I'm not going to waste your money. Investors not only want to make sure their money is well-managed, "they also want to know that the amount of money is sufficient to get you to the next stage, whatever that stage is," Stevenson says. 

3. I will show you a good time. By good, Stevenson means a range of things. First and foremost, "if I ever see a sign of somebody that is willing to cheat the government or cheat the customer or cheat their wife or whatever, I want to run away as fast as possible," Stevenson says. So demonstrating a strong moral background is vital. 

Morality is also not a simple matter.  

Do you have to disclose every aspect of your life, like the kind fo car you drive or what your religion is? Stevenson says you need to be "reasonably forthright about the risks and the opportunities."  And while many people gloss this over, "I think credibility comes when you say 'I’ve thought about the risks and here’s the way I will overcome them,'" says Stevenson.

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