So far, I've spent a little over a year angel investing. I've noted before that it's been a fun and rewarding educational process in learning how to angel invest. I've talked to people and got some great pointers, read some books on the subject, read some insightful blog posts, and leveraged my own Yahoo! knowledge in trying to figure out whether I should invest in a business or not.
I've also noticed that I've begun, and now attempting to prevent, a slow slide into "analysis ultra-conservatism." What exactly is this?
Just recently, I've started looking at a lot of deals and but invested in none. I felt like the frequency of my investments has dropped dramatically. Yes, there were many reasons why I did not invest and some of them were out of my control. But I also wondered if something else was at work.
As an angel investor in early stage internet companies, I know that high risk is part of the game. They all have not been in business long enough to show traction, and you need a healthy dose of faith in order to put money in them. Yet, I felt that I was thinking more deeply into a business now than I did before. For sure, I have more knowledge now; I have looked at a lot of companies, heard other peoples' objections and analysis, developed my own analysis process in what I like and don't like. It has definitely moved from an emphasis on liking the product and the team to many other business aspects. This is all good and makes me more seasoned. The bad thing is that the more knowledge I get, the more things I find wrong about a business and shy away from investing.
So, as your knowledge and experience grows, you get better at analyzing companies but as you get better at analysis, the list of problems grows and you start finding reasons to not invest, hence, the term "analysis ultra-conservatism."
A friend of mine once said something very insightful about early stage investing, which is:
There is always something f**cked up about EVERY early stage startup.
I find myself repeating this to myself over and over as I do not want to fall into the trap of "analysis ultra-conservatism." I cannot remain an early stage investor if I do. I know that it is a good thing to get more experience in analyzing companies and opportunities, but I have to remember my friend's insightful quote and stop myself from over-analyzing and becoming risk averse simply because an opportunity has faults in it. ALL EARLY STAGE OPPORTUNITIES HAVE FAULTS! I must remember to keep in mind that there will be faults and to decide on the positive factors that remain.