Musings from Bahraini entrepreneur, design agency creative director and magazine editor, Wafa Alobaidat
If my life could be split into chapters it would be: School, University, First Job, Intro to Fashion, Birth of SB, Graduation, Agency Life, and this new chapter I am currently exploring called "Dealing with Investors."
In a recent branding workshop conducted by one of Obai and Hill’s new consultants, my team and I gathered in the training room at the office where we discussed the science and art of customer management. When we all started sharing our experiences with clients we really honed in on the importance of emotional intelligence.
Identifying the importance of emotional intelligence helped me realize its importance when dealing with investors and noticing how different it is from dealing with clients or customers.
When it comes to dealing with investors, here are some of my newfound discoveries:
- It is a Process. When landing a client, the process is easier because our services are clear and our agency follows a simple step by step guide that usually includes: A. Consulting with the client B. Preparing a brief C. Signing the brief D. Preparing the proposal E. Presenting the proposal F. Making alternative changes the client has to approve G. Proceeding with the work. With investors and projects, there are way too many variables to control and you go along with the pace of your investors. A pace which I have come to realize is far slower and more frustrating than I expected.
- You Don’t Know the Steps. Every investor is different and does things in a different way. Even though clients differ from one to the other, we manage them in the same way. With investors it is about building trust, developing a relationship, and taking that leap.
- It is a Lot of Work. To be able to sell the concept to an investor, a great deal of tailored research, presentation, analysis, and financial data has to be submitted. On a daily basis, this information has to be tailored to the needs of the person you are speaking to. They might want less presentation and more financial data; they might want less data and more research; they might want to see you over three or four sessions; they might want to cater the plan or give input on the business model. It is a lot of give and take and you must be willing to push and pull cleverly over the duration of the investment.
- It is a Marathon. There is compromise and there is arguing; you must be able to deal with negative banter and harsh comments all while trying to prove yourself. Lots of mental strength is to be involved, loads of energy, and lots of positivity. Sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight
- It Has to Fit Like a Glove. If your idea is young and fresh, and your investors are old school and don’t 'get it' then you are dealing with the wrong crowd. Shop around for the right person that understands your vision, and who will be able to add value to your concept.
My knowledge of this subject is still very minimal and in no way am I the expert in this field, but it is exciting and new and full of challenges. And I hope to be able to write more in depth about my experience with investors in the next few months.
Wafa Alobaidat writes a bi-monthly column for Khaleejesque and muses on fashion, art, culture and culture shock in the Middle East. Wafa is also the editor of Sketchbook magazine and runs design and PR agency Obai and Hill.