Avid life-hacker Chris Hutchins has built his career around financial optimization. As a former investment banker and founder, Hutchins is the Head of New Product Strategy at Wealthfront, where he’s focused on making products that will help clients build wealth through investing and podcast host of All The Hacks.
With a passion for sharing some of the most useful lifehacks in business and everyday life, Hutchins discusses his best advice on negotiating in the investment world – almost all of which can be applied to a wide-range of professional scenarios.
Starting The Process
According to Hutchins, the process should always start with deciding what kind of investment you want. Are you looking for friends and family to invest small amounts or are you interested in major investors? If the answer is the latter, it’s important to first do your research to understand what game you are playing.
“The most important thing is to understand the process that’s happening and try to play into that process,” Hutchins explains. “Don’t play the game that you think will work. Do the research and then play the game you know will work.”
Next, Hutchins encourages companies to create an exciting “race” dynamic – one that creates the perception that the company is in high demand – thus inspiring investors to act quickly.
“Make a list of everybody you want to talk to and make sure you have enough of a relationship so that you can make an introduction. Then try to kick everything off at the same time,” Hutchins shares.
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The significance of time should not be overlooked, as he encourages entrepreneurs to block off a specific period of time, say three weeks, for a particular investment project.
From there, Hutchins recommends keeping all the investors on the same timeline. For example, he would avoid having a second meeting with one investor in the same week as an initial meeting with another.
Getting to Yes
According to Hutchins, two key elements of raising capital for any company are storytelling and selling yourself. Any new investment opportunity, even job interviews, can ultimately come down to being likeable. Beyond that, Hutchins highlights passion and competence as two qualities investors will want to see.
As he explains, “Starting a company is really hard, but it gets harder. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are really passionate – to the degree that they believe they are willing to fight through the tough times.”
Being passionate, and likeable, are oftentimes correlated with extroversion; however, Hutchins has recommendations for entrepreneurs who may consider themselves more introverted or low energy.
“There are various ways to own the room,” Hutchins shares. “You can do that through competence. You can share what you have learned and why you are excited in a cool, calm manner.”
Similarly, he feels it’s equally powerful for entrepreneurs to listen attentively, and prepare thoroughly for the presentation, even taking time to anticipate all the questions an investor may ask.
The Role of Confidence
Following an initial meeting, it will be critical for entrepreneurs to cultivate the dynamic that will lead investors to believe a company is a hot commodity on the market. This requires entrepreneurs to play a difficult role: pretending they don’t need an investor’s money when they really do.
“I try to do it in writing. Keep it short,” Hutchins shares his strategies for remaining confident. “I try to put myself in the mindset of ‘what would I be doing right now if I had ten investors tell me we want you to give you money?’”
Speaking more broadly, these same strategies can be applied to other scenarios, including interviewing for a new job. It seems counterintuitive but asking a prospective employer to move up an interview because an offer is already on the table could lead them to wonder if they are moving too slow on a prime candidate.
That said, Hutchins doesn’t encourage entrepreneurs to lie or totally misrepresent their offers either.
“The last thing you want is for somebody to find out your lying – so be careful with the risk,” he warns.
Regardless of industry, or professional goals, for Hutchins successful negotiations come down to likeability, preparation and demonstrating that a person or product is in high demand. To learn more finance and negotiation life hacks visit www.allthehacks.com.
To learn more about negotiating in financial investment, listen to Chris’s full episode here.