By Ricky Pelletier, contributor
FORTUNE -- Taking a VC investment should not be viewed as a transaction – it should be approached as a partnership.
After all, transactions are one-time in nature whereas partnerships are an ongoing concern. Changing one's thinking around this will not only shape the type of partner you select, and but also how you go about selecting them.
When a deal is viewed as a "transaction," there is really only one key component – value maximization. This type of mentality should occur in situations like:
As you can see, the above "transactions" get more complex (in terms of decision factors) as we move down the list. In my opinion, at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the real estate transaction is a VC investment.
Value maximization should absolutely be a part of your decision matrix when evaluating potential partners, but it should not be the sole factor (and perhaps it shouldn't even be included toward the top of the list). You need to sit down with the rest of your team and figure out what is important to you all in both the near- and long-term, and you need to use that as criteria for selecting a partner.
It's easy to be tricked into thinking you are selecting the right partner by picking the group that offers you the highest valuation (and, just to be clear, on many occasions, the high bidder may very well be the best fit), but you need to be sure that they are a group you want to work with over the long haul.
I recommend asking questions like:
I cannot emphasize that last point enough. Just as prospective investors are doing reference checks with your customers, you should be checking with their customers (which happen to be their portfolio companies).
Once you've figured out who you want to work with, getting to a valuation that is mutually acceptable to both parties is far easier as both sides are emotionally committed to making something work. You've essentially done the important work of assessing fit, now you just need to figure out how to make the economics work (and that's just math).
Once an entrepreneur adjusts his/her thinking on viewing a VC investment as a partnership rather than a transaction or a deal, the decision factors that really matter rise to the top and the probability of selecting the ideal partner is significantly increased.
Ricky Pelletier (@rickypelletier) is an associate with OpenView Venture Partners.
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