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April 6, 2020 General Banking

Looking for Capital? Charisma Matters.

Looking for Capital? Charisma Matters.

There are multiple ways entrepreneurs obtain the capital they need to grow: bootstrapping, venture capital, crowdfunding and traditional lending. And, despite significant differences, each of these funding mechanisms requires a few fundamentals be in place before you ask for money, including:

  • A business plan featuring informed industry analysis and a strategy for reaching your target audience.
  • An ability to explain the gap or need in the market your business fills—whether it is the latest and greatest tech product or a new restaurant. 
  • For start-ups, knowledge of your personal credit score and the ability to explain any blemishes.
  • A thorough explanation for how the capital will be used. 
  • Depending on how you fund your business, the willingness to put up collateral—or the willingness to give shares of ownership to an investor. 

Of course, everyone could probably guess that a venture capitalist or your local community bank would require a business plan, a growth strategy, decent credit, and a clear explanation of how new financial resources will get used.

However, the list doesn’t end there.

There is more to getting your business the capital it needs than just a good business plan or an amazing pitch deck. There are also intangible qualities – like charisma.

What do we mean?

To begin, let’s define what charisma is not: 

Charisma is not granted by the neighborhood you call home—or the neighborhood you grew up in. 

Charisma is not a ten-thousand-dollar suit.

Charisma is not the Tesla you just put a deposit on.

Charisma is not tucked behind a diploma earned from colleges that look like they sprang from J.K. Rowling’s daydreams.

Charisma is not something you can buy, fake, or imitate. Real charisma comes from two things:

  • Being deeply comfortable in your own skin—even when your skin is covered by that one t-shirt you could afford as you bootstrapped your business.
  • Having an equally deep enthusiasm about the work you do—so much so that the work stopped being “work” and has become a holy mission—even when your holy mission is “just” being one of the best company’s in the region.

Charisma is the ability to make someone’s heart run toward the exact thing their head tells them to avoid.  It’s the challenge facing every entrepreneur who tries to convince a commercial banker or venture capital firm their dream is the one worth taking a risk on. 

Charisma is the ability to inspire. 

If a funder listens to the voice in their head, they may hear every reason why your dream isn’t worth investing in. 

It’s too risky.

The competition is too stiff.

You, the entrepreneur, have never done this before. 

Statistically speaking, you are likely to fail. 

But if they are inspired? If a funder sees a charismatic leader who can get others to believe in their vision? If they are inspired by an entrepreneur dripping with charisma, a funder might hear a different voice—a voice that says, “This one is different.”

“She has what it takes.”

At Saint Louis Bank, we value charisma. In fact, we conducted an internal exercise where we identified seven personality traits we want in our bank. Charisma topped the list. 

Why?

Because we want to work with leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners who inspire us. We want our hearts to tell us our borrowers are good bets long before our heads can look at the finer points of a business plan and discover the business has real potential in the market. 

And at Saint Louis Bank, we don’t just want to be inspired.

We want to inspire. 

It is our mission to be the local bank using innovation and a new approach to better serve the community we love. That’s our skin, and we are deeply comfortable in it.  

You can call that charisma. We certainly do. 

But you can also call it something else. 

You can call it the only way to serve a region that inspires us to do better, be better, and above all else, deliver on the promise of a truly community-centered bank.