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The One Thing You Should Never Discuss too Early in Business

Lizanne Falsetto, founder of ThinkThinLizanne Falsetto, founder of ThinkThin
Lizanne Falsetto, founder of ThinkThinCourtesy of Lizanne Falsetto

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s the best way to pitch a startup idea to investors?” is written by Lizanne Falsetto, founder of ThinkThin.

About 20 years ago, I wrangled a meeting with the founder of the leading strategic investment firm in high-growth consumer and retail brands. He had never heard of ThinkThin and kindly wished me luck, but before the door closed, I turned around and told him to keep an eye on ThinkThin—that one day, he’d want my brand.

Cut to 2016. That same investment firm and I inked a deal selling ThinkThin to a global performance nutrition and ingredients group to the tune of $217 million.

And although this account may have glossed over 20 years of details, I can assure you the road to that sort of success was navigated strategically and with persistence. Whether you’re just starting out, scaling up, or steering your brand toward sale, here are my top five tips for guiding your business toward a prosperous outcome:

Know thy partner
I knew that I had found my ideal investment partner because I researched early on the best financial investment banker in my field, and then tracked them and watched them.

Check everyone’s agenda
My agenda was to find a partner who was successful at building brands and interested in keeping the brand and team intact, all while securing a sizeable profit for each shareholder and the entrepreneur by selling the company when the market was right—ultimately, a means to roll ThinkThin out globally. Financial bankers have very different agendas from entrepreneurs, and if you aren’t informed of their agenda beforehand, they will flatten your dreams.

See also: The Best Way to Raise Startup Funds

Say no
I went into negotiations with my banker twice before closing the deal on the third go-round. The timing just wasn’t right until then. You have to find the courage to walk away if the negotiations on percentage and valuation of the brand aren’t in agreement with your math and intuition.

Keep it quiet
We decided not to announce the partnership until the timing was right—we wanted to run business as normal with no interruptions.


Stay in school
The most advantageous way to learn is to “take yourself to Harvard every week.” Throughout my company’s growth, whenever I didn’t know something, I would hire somebody and say, “Teach me X.” For three days, I would lock myself away and focus on only that aspect of the business until I was an expert.

Making a plan and never wavering on my original objectives allowed me to avoid being taken advantage of when negotiating the future of my brand. A thoughtful strategy is your best friend, your North Star, and your key to successful results.

Lizanne Falsetto is the founder and former CEO of ThinkThin.