Andrew Joiner | Crain's Utah

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andrew Joiner

Background:  

Andrew Joiner is chief executive officer of InMoment, a customer experience management company based in Salt Lake City. Prior to InMoment, Joiner served as head of HP Software’s customer experience business, a $250 million independent wing of Hewlett Packard. 

The Mistake:

One of the mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is you focus on the financing stage as a real achievement. You can’t accomplish anything until you get money. You’re always solving the chicken and the egg problems. How do you build a product if you don’t have engineers? How do you get customers if you don’t have a product?

Too often we think you start a business by raising financing. You orient everything – even your business pitch – around what might reach the fundraising target. Over time you realize you have different objectives. Investors have a different objective than an entrepreneur. Solving that is complex. You build business and financing outcomes.

You have to solve against different financing milestones as the business grows. The financing is there to support the business. If you focus on the right elements, the financing will come. The ability to overcome the chicken and the egg serves you well.

When I got to HP, I thought I had finally reached people with money. But there were some constraints true to an organization of that size. Every management meeting nobody had enough time, resources, etc. Being able to solve against those and focus on what the business needs, it takes care of itself. Being able to focus on building the business attracts people and the rest falls into place.

I spent my first year writing my business plan. I came from an investment banking background, so I could build a sophisticated presentation – here’s how we’ll get $50 million by year five. You spend so much time doing that you realize six months later that you don’t have a product.

If you focus on the right elements, the financing will come.

The Lesson:

I changed by focusing on the product. The next thing I knew we got a check from an angel investor. The financing just came.

When I talk to other entrepreneurs, they think of capital raising as a small segment of why they hire someone. There are investment bankers that can help you with capital raising, but just reflect on your progress. If capital raising becomes your only thing, you’re probably misaligned.

Focus on the business and realize you do not have to spend a lot of time on capital raising. There are so many financing options. So many venture capitalists love having a pipeline of companies to talk to.

You can spend a lot of time talking about your market and why you’re differentiated. After a while, you’re getting diminishing returns. When you focus on building the business and connecting to customers, it becomes very easy to reflect that. They tend to find you through the press and your progress. It’s not as much of a push from a financing perspective.

Follow InMoment on Twitter at @WeAreInMoment.

Pictured is Andrew Joiner. | Photo courtesy of InMoment.

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