I recently received an email from someone who found my website asking me whether they should ‘bother’ to engage with
Early stage startups achieving great milestones
Every week, I meet early stage startups (that few people have heard of as they are pre-revenue or with one or two employees) who are achieving fantastic milestones:
- Olive in MediStori has arranged for United Drug to distribute her first product to every pharmacist in Ireland.
- Robert in English Bubble has secured two high potential distribution partnerships opening immediate channels in China and the Spanish-speaking world
- Yvonne in EVB Sports featured on the Late Late Show (primetime tv Friday night) before her product hit the market while Avril in Off We Go featured on TV3’s Afternoon Show a few years ago.
- Fintan in Golf Voyager secured a deal (first one ever) to make all 350,000 Booking.com hotels available on the website thereby making their solution extremely attractive (and viable).
- Arthur in Ansley Watches (as worn by Amy Huberman and Kathryn Thomas) are now stocked in 50 premium jewellers in Ireland to include Harvey Nichols, Fields Jewellers and Rocks Grafton Street.
Each of these businesses to name just a few (no business involvement to declare) could have decided not to leave their comfort zone and risk the chance of being told No. They could have declared themselves a non-runner but they did not. Did they get lucky? Maybe, but most importantly they put themselves in the right place at the right time to take advantage.
Everyone is busy so prioritise
Startup and small business promoters have lots of balls in the air. It could be easy to say:
- I am not going to apply for that Tender.
- The Bank will not give me a loan.
- That potential customer would not be interested in what we have to offer.
- The national newspaper will not cover us.
- Our product or process would not qualify for accreditation or achieve the Standard.
And decide not to proceed. The following is a quote from the original email that inspired this post to show that the promoter had a very legitimate reason for not engaging with the agency.
“I am caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle of growing the business on a shoestring. So I am afraid that I will waste too much time barking up the wrong tree with these funding/support programs.”
Without a doubt, time is a legitimate constraint so it is important that promoters prioritise what will drive the business forward. You need to weigh up the advantages of success and really go after what you want. I am not guaranteeing success but the following may help:
#1. Walk in the shoes of the other person
Stephen Covey’s fifth of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People highlights the importance of the approach where you ‘Seek first to understand, then to be Understood’. I often alarm startup promoters by telling them that for instance a Bank does not really care about what their business does, it only really cares about whether you can pay back the money!
From a Sales perspective particularly in a commercial context, you need to understand the motivation of the various players in any situation from both a personal and a corporate perspective.
#2. Enable yourself
Businesses have to build a platform so that they can leverage opportunities that arise. An honest appraisal of the current situation or self-assessment can reveal gaps that must be filled:
- Get a college qualification
- Attend a Management Development or Start Your Own Business Programme (read books and blogs such as Tweak Your Biz)
- Apply for an Accelerator
- Engage a mentor
- Form an Advisory Board of Directors
- Network to meet customers and/or strategic partners
- Hire qualified and experienced personnel
- Ask for testimonials and endorsements to establish your track record
- Find Role Models to emulate
Know what success looks like
I am a big fan of goal setting and setting stretch goals that are relentlessly pursued. The first step is to set your vision and then figure out how you are going to make it happen by putting your best foot forward. There is undoubtedly an element of planning involved but I am also a big fan of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I often counsel promoters not to agonise over the details of how something will happen; if they are active in the market talking to customers, suppliers and other experts, then what they seek will often appear when it is needed. The important thing is: ‘Don’t Deselect Yourself’.
I look forward to hearing what the Tweak Your Biz community thinks of my article – I am sure that there are lots more positive suggestions with practical steps on how to embrace opportunities that present themselves.
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