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Money Order Venture capital is within reach, but you have to work for it. Follow these steps to that deal-closing handshake.

By Art Beroff

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Raising venture capital is a lot like painting a room: Theactual painting is the final step. What takes the most time isprepping the job-getting rid of old wallpaper, patching, sandingand cleaning.

In this vein, we understand our "Top 100 Venture CapitalFirms for Entrepreneurs" list might provide irresistiblefodder for capital-hungry entrepreneurs. But before you pick up thephone and start dialing for dollars, think about the prep workrequired to do a good job and be successful. Not sure how to start?The following steps will help:

1. Understand themission. You need to know what you're looking for.First and foremost, you must find a lead investor. A lead investoris the firm that will either do the whole deal or orchestrate theparticipation of other venture firms, with their own capitalcommitments.

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