Founders and owners, when they're bringing on investors, have a lot more to think about than just capital. Kanbrick Co-Founder Tracy Britt Cool says it's potentially a once-in-a-lifetime decision.

"I always advise friends, people I know who are founders or owners of companies, you keep your company as long as you can because once you sell it or once you bring in a partner, you can only do that typically once or twice depending on the nature of the structure," Cool says. "So, it's really valuable to be really thoughtful if you decide to go down that path and make sure you have the right partner."

That puts the focus on alignment, she says, which is especially important when owners maintain an ownership position, helping them participate in the value creation going forward. She suggests that owners connect with people that a firm has worked with before so they can learn more about them, their background and experiences firsthand.

It's also about making sure the visions of the owner and the firm are aligned so that the focus is on the areas that can drive growth in the company.

"The last thing we want to do is have a situation where someone partners with us and feels like what we've done is different than what they expected," she says. "So, being really transparent up front is incredibly valuable; having that alignment where we're both owners in the business, we're both focused on what's best for the long-term health of the company, is really valuable."

Cool says there are traits she looks for in those she partners with. For instance, she says finds that people in management roles, owners who have a mindset focused on learning, growing and continuously improving tends to connect well with her firm because it's important how companies and owners adapt, grow and learn how to get better.

"We try to ask more questions than we do talking," she says. "We try to listen and really understand the business and we tend to resonate and align with owners who have a similar mentality — they want to learn, they want to grow, they want to get better and have that level of humility as well."

Cool spoke at last year's Chicago Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about what to look for in an investor. Hit play on the video to catch the full conversation.