My Real Angel Investors: Reframing Startup Funding to Accelerate Your Wealth

Marcus Cadman, American Bingo Spirit

When I opened the Pregame Clubhouse last year, it was the biggest financial risk I’ve taken to date. It was self-funded, and rather than spend my time looking for investors, I chose to kick it old school and put all my focus into driving real revenue and creating a winning product.

Like every entrepreneur I have ever worked with, our revenue grew more slowly than I initially projected. Convincing myself to take that initial risk had required some magical thinking, primarily in the form of income projection spreadsheets. By month three, I started having anxiety attacks. In month four, I got walking pneumonia. I was blaming myself for doing it wrong, or projecting it wrong, and I was making myself sick over it.

So then I started blaming everyone else. It’s not fair that my parents aren’t rich! It’s not fair that she got startup money from her uncle! It’s not fair that I don’t have a business and/or life partner! It’s not fair that my siblings have jobs and can’t come work for me for free! My head was a 24/7 pity party, and it was affecting my health, my relationships, and my business. Not only was I feeling physical anxiety, I was paralyzing myself from doing the things that could help solve it, like exercise and meditation. I was irritated at my closest friends and family members because they weren’t meeting my unvoiced expectations. I was doing the work, but deep down, I knew that I wasn’t bringing my A-game on an energetic level.

Focusing on what I didn’t have was a serenity-threatening distraction from everything I did have – all the advantages that were making my startup work and all the ways I was uniquely suited to make it successful.

I didn’t have wealth in terms of money in the bank, but everything changed when I fully acknowledged my unrivaled wealth in other areas.

I am wealthy in relationships: Kevin came to Portland for a week to help out at the Clubhouse. Lilit did the same, and kept me sane during the snowstorm. Matty was an expert eye in creating our visual brand. Shane helped me strengthen the business model. Dawn meets with me every week to talk long-term planning. Pia and I talk twice a month to talk through ideas and opportunities. The list goes on.

I am wealthy in experience: I have worked with over 100 startups, small businesses, and organizations in my career. I’ve been through business failures and I know what to watch out for. Working for businesses with small teams and budgets has forced me to grow my skill set and wear all the hats.

I am wealthy in connections: We’ve been able to bring in incredible speakers for our Pregame Events. I have plenty of people I can talk to about business development. I can explore different channels of business. I live in a city so I can go to a networking event any day of the week.

I am wealthy in creativity: We have zero trouble coming up with marketing ideas, messaging, or campaigns. We don’t need a big marketing budget. We have promotional skills and experience. We can decently navigate our way around the Adobe Creative Suite. We have a pretty kick-ass content strategy (hint: you’re reading it right now).

I am wealthy in resources to get back on track: I have designated people I can call in a crisis. I have time to exercise. I know how to meditate. I live ten minutes from forest trails, rose gardens, and Japanese gardens that calm my spirit. I have a spiritual community. I have technology like podcasts and apps that deliver doses of wisdom and calm whenever I choose. I have immediate family with incredible emotional and spiritual wealth. I have a really awesome pet bunny that brings me true joy.

I resisted the solution to my own detriment, arrogantly feeling like it was too simplistic. It wasn’t. It is profound.

Focusing on all the true wealth in my life and work, and being actively grateful for it, turned things around quickly. I spent more time with people who love me, without expectations. I cut down my news intake and replaced the content I was feeding my brain with Maya and Oprah and Tara and Marianne. I hand-wrote and snail-mailed dozens of thank you notes. I got out of my head and listened to my clients more deeply and advising more generously, placing a cosmic bet that assuming I have an endless well of wisdom and resources to share would make it so.

And it changed everything.

Yes, our sales are accelerating, but it’s much more than that. I trust my ideas more. I am more motivated to get to the office in the morning. I am so energized when I talk about Pregame out in the world. New opportunities surface daily. I am more willing to try new things. I am more fun on the weekends. I am considering maybe I will go on a date at some point but just maybe I’ll get back to you on that.

Being realistic with a dash of skepticism is a valuable trait in business, but cynicism and idealism are not. Having the right mindset that best serves me as both a person and a businessperson is a constant practice and realignment, but it is the foundation not just for building wealth, but for enjoying the wealth I already have right now, no matter what.

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