Jason Lemkin, answering the question How many hours per week does a VC expect startup founders to work?:
Investing millions of dollars is a big people risk, in early-stage start-ups. Especially if you didn’t know the founders before the fundraising. As a VC maybe I get 3 weeks to get to know you before a term sheet some times, then give you $1-$2-$4m dollars — where is the time to build trust? There isn’t. So what is important is not the hours worked, but the signals that you are doing everything possible to win:
Email responsiveness. Most great CEO respond to key emails with shocking alacrity. If you aren’t responsive to early-stage VCs, that can create huge anxiety. Don’t wait a week or whatever to respond, even if you have other stuff that seems more important to do.
Ethical lapses. You’d be surprised how many founders treat the company’s money as their own. They “borrow” funds, take nutty vacations on thecompany’s dime, etc. Not most, of course. But to be clear — more often than you’d think.
Listening. I know VCs sometimes give you terrible advice. But if you don’t at least listen, it creates anxiety that there is no trust.
Team drama. Is the team getting along? If they are working long hours together, at least that’s a sign they are working well together. The quickest path to Death in a start-up is a very smart but disfunctional founding team.
Quick comment: I wonder if exactly the same advice holds employees trying to build trust with their managers.