How to grow your startup and fundraise at the same time

Fundraising is freaking hard. 

It’s one big sales job that you can’t pass on to anyone else. It requires you to be optimistic and determined 110% of the time even when you’ve been rejected hundreds of times over. 

But there’s another aspect of fundraising that no one talks about how to balance growth and fundraising at the same time.  

Most companies can’t afford to pause growth during the months-long fundraising process. Plus, investors will want to see recent growth even knowing you’re in the midst of taking dozens of meetings a week.  

However, for pre-seed and seed-stage companies with small teams, this is incredibly difficult. 

You and your co-founder are likely doing most of the work: sales, marketing, and building the product. If one of you steps away from the business to fundraise, how do you continue to grow at the same rate? Especially if your team members don’t have the same skill sets as you do.

This is why you need to put a transition plan in place before you start fundraising. 

The transition from running the business → fundraising

Fundraising isn’t a part-time job. If you’re going to do it well, you as the CEO need 100% of your time to build your pitch deck, meet investors, and secure investment. This means before you start fundraising, you should look at all the projects on your plate and do one of the following:

  • Dump them altogether
  • Train and hand them off to teammates
  • Exchange them for outsourced help
  • Automate them

This basically turns into a prioritization exercise. We find the Eisenhower Matrix to be effective in categorizing your different projects. 

This matrix is divided into four sections.

  1. Important + urgent
  2. Not important + urgent
  3. Important + not urgent
  4. Not important + not urgent

Let’s break each item down to see how this matrix can help with your transition. 

Continue doing things that are important and urgent 

There’s no way around this. Lean on your co-founder to take on the burden of these tasks so you can fully focus on fundraising. 

Is your technical co-founder an introvert? It doesn’t matter. They might need to do sales. 

Is your remote co-founder in a different time zone? It doesn’t matter. They might need to manage your direct report for a while. 

These are difficult asks to make, but the whole team needs to realize the magnitude of the situation and step up. This is crucial.

Delegate tasks that are not important but are urgent. 

These are things like responding to customer emails or sending invoices. Train your team to handle these kinds of to-dos, or outsource them completely so you can focus on higher-leverage activities (like fundraising). 

Or perhaps you’re doing all the lead generation right now. Document as much of your process as possible and outsource that work to an agency or another person.  

Perhaps there are scripts you can write to take over tasks you’ve been doing manually. Systemizing how you work is probably what you’ll need to do to prepare to scale anyway.

Schedule projects that are important but not urgent. 

There are a lot of important and long-term initiatives that co-founders can’t easily outsource to others. Since they’re not time-sensitive, schedule a time later in the year to complete these projects. 

One timeline could be to start project X the month after you finish fundraising. Or schedule to do project Y in Q3 of 2024.

Eliminate all projects that are not important and not urgent. 

Entrepreneurs have a million ideas. It’s OK to ditch ones that you realize aren’t as important as you once thought.  

Dumping projects and finding focus are good things! This will free up more of your team’s time to work on initiatives that are higher priority.

How long will this take?

This whole transition typically takes 1-4 weeks depending on how many moving pieces you have. You cannot just start fundraising without planning for this transition. It can be incredibly involved. 

Since December is one of the worst times to fundraise, we recommend starting this transition ASAP, so you can hit the ground running come January.