Incompetent & Powerless
As a Venture Capitalist, it’s thriving to be part of incredible journeys. Vision, talent, resilience, optimism, clairvoyance, velocity, adaptability, determination, leadership, ambition, humility… There are so many attributes that define the best entrepreneurs of our portfolio. This is the beautiful and bright side of our mission.
However, we don’t talk much about the hard times and drawbacks that also pave our way. We know that mistakes will be made, that failures will come across promising ventures, that we don’t always win and not always as much as we would have hoped or expected.
Looking backwards and honestly in the mirror, we sometimes (at least I do) feel guilty of our own mistakes, lack of involvement or frustrated by our inability to act and solve rising issues that we rightly pointed out.
I have been doing a lot of mistakes along the way and I know that many more will come, but every single difficulty is an opportunity to learn and apply better practices in the way entrepreneurs shall be supported. Over the past few years, there were prominent learnings:
Every signal means something, and no one shall settle until it’s clear for everyone what they are exactly and what they really mean;
Explicit communication, clear perspective and obvious facts are necessary to make sounding arguments towards anyone, especially founders;
No one shall ever wait to express concerns or ask tough questions to a founder, in a genuine, honest and benevolent way; Bad dynamics always get worst and shall be handled in time.
It’s also clear that no investor will ever be able to execute a plan for someone else. And putting another person in charge is certainly not a solution, it’s just an alternative. It can be frustrating sometimes, but the mission is to empower entrepreneurs in becoming the next best version of themselves, always, either until they outrun their investor’s ability to help them in a meaningful way or sadly until their investors, in regards with their commitment, stop believing in their ability to grow up and better perform as a CEO. A couple of lessons came from living those moments of frustration:
It’s not enough to provide entrepreneurs with the right set of people and resources, one need to monitor what (right) use they make of them;
Investors don’t hold all the solutions to every single issue, but they are able to develop the right network of people who together can help in any situation;
Investors can’t force people to do things. It’s important to figure out where an entrepreneur stands in her journey and from there to help her reach the next level. Everything is incremental, always, it’s just the velocity that changes overtime.
Yes, it is frustrating not to be in power and to know that we are only responsible for providing the best possible conditions for our portfolio entrepreneurs to thrive. It is also humbling to realise that we make a lot of mistakes along the way as investors and we must take our role very seriously as it can be empowering but also damaging as much in action or inaction.
I couldn’t be more excited to work with all the incredible founders of our portfolio, especially now when more and more ambitious ventures are being built by french entrepreneurs.
And in all the good and hard times of their journeys, we shall remember to be here to support them, to provide thoughtful guidance and to help them thrive as courageous individuals on a mission.