I received a great question over the twittersphere today. “What advice would you give to a start-up with a good prototype, amazing product & awesome team?” It’s a great question and one that I’ve heard from many start-ups over the years.
Since guys like Marko have more experience on the funding path – I’ll leave that piece to him. However, there’s another element that’s really key to the health of any startup – or any business for that matter. It’s going to sound a little simple; but I think you’ll agree that it’s not always easy to remember – meet people.
Listen, I’m a tech guy and I feel really comfortable behind my computer. In fact, my brain just seems geared to fix all the internal problems; build the best structures; and create teams and strategies that work. However, as my best friend of many years always puts it – there’s a time for strategy and there’s get-your-ass-on-phone time. When she says this, I know it’s time to get out there and meet more people.
Here’s the hard part
Networking is a fluid and dynamic undertaking. Sometimes you really need to forget wiifm and just talk to people. Of course, you want to make sure you’re attending events in your space – and even a couple outside your space. But if you approach every new relationship with defined expectations you‘re going to miss out on some pretty amazing connections.
[tweet “Networking is a fluid and dynamic undertaking. Sometimes you really need to forget”]
Several years ago my friend met a lady at a networking event. A couple years later I was contacted to do some really insignificant computer work for this lady. She needed help with her e-mail. A few months after that I received a call that she needed help with a client in LA and could really use my tech and project management experience. That client ended up giving me a $120k project and helped me move to LA. He also remains a great friend to this day – not to mention a great contact.
Wait, there’s more!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying; you don’t know what you don’t know. When you get out there and start talking to people about what you do; and ya, even some of your struggles – something amazing happens. You start to figure out what you didn’t know. You start to form new concepts about your company and what it offers. I promise you – you’ll gain perspective in ways you never imagined.
[tweet “I promise you – you’ll gain perspective in ways you never imagined.”]
The Short of it
- Get out there and start conversing with people – even if you’re not sure where it might lead.
- Go to some events outside your space. You’ll be amazed at how out-of-the-box your thinking will become toward your own project or company
- Don’t leave this up to your sales team. Sure, you can’t go to every event – you’re busy running a company. However, you can go to a couple a week; and the rewards will be nothing short of bountiful.
- Be honest! This is a big one. Let people know about some of the struggles you’re experiencing and enjoy the bond it creates and the perspective you gain. Obviously, nobody wants to hear the everything-sucks-poor-me speech. But something like “You know, I tried this marketing campaign and didn’t really get the results I had hoped for; where are you finding success in that area?” is a great way to let people know you’re real and to let them help you.
I answered a pretty broad question with a specific focus on building relationships. I have found that a business is only as strong as the relationships it forms in it’s community. If there are other perspectives or areas you can provide input on – I always love hearing your feedback 🙂
Photo by Dell’s Official Flickr Page