Always ask for the next meeting in the current meeting. Even if it’s only a 5-10 minute touch base.
Most clients and prospects will agree to this, and it will ensure that you (and your project) stay on their calendar and top of mind.
Every time you work on something new, whether it’s a new feature, a new product, or a new product line, recognize that you are searching for incremental product/market fit. The search is a continuous and never ending quest. Don’t confuse illusion with reality.
I use many freelancer platforms to get stuff done at my startup – eLance, Fiverr, and Zirtual are my faves.
We wouldn’t be as far as we are in terms of product, customers, and overall progress without having these things in our toolkit. So thank you (all of those companies :) for that!
Here’s the rub:
- There is no integration between the platforms
- There is no integration with the tools I use to communicate with our in house team
- The workflow management tools on these platforms aren’t nearly as good as what I can get from the Trellos, Asanas, and Slacks of the world
- The freelancer platforms forbade users to communicate outside of their platforms (which I get – they don’t want people cutting them out of the loop on revenue)
All of that makes for a huge biz dev (or M&A) opportunity for any or all of the nextgen ‘get work done’ platforms like Trello, Knotable, Slack, Evernote, and others I’ve neglected to mention.
Benefit to the SaaS platforms I mentioned is clear: huge numbers of new users.
Benefit to the freelancer programs: tools that let customers and the labor move faster. Higher velocity = more hiring of their freelancers = more revenue.
I also think there is kind of a cool network effects business opportunity if one could become the service layer between the freelancer platforms and the ‘get work done’ platforms.
What do you think?
When you are building a startup you need to do whatever it takes to make your customer successful. And it’s not just about you or your product. It’s about all that other stuff you do.
It’s about bringing everything to the table for your customers, even if those things don’t have anything to do with the core product you sell…
- They want to run an event? Find them a venue.
- They mention they’re taking their wife to dinner next weekend? Ask your foodie friends to make some suggestions.
- They are trying to change jobs? Help them find a new gig even if it is not in your immediate best interest.
For instance, our product has little to do with interviewing, or acquisition marketing, or forming a seed fund. Yet those are all topics that have come up with my clients in the last few weeks. I’m doing my best to connect them with people who can help them with those things – or sharing my 2 cents when I have the skills and expertise to add value directly.
My startup is in the early days and success is far from guaranteed, but I know that if I model people like this that the journey will be a whole lot easier.
One suggestion I frequently make is to find a “utility infielder” for your first business hire. This is someone who can do a lot of things well but nothing spectacularly well. This is often someone who has done this role before in a startup and likes working in companies that are between five and fifty employees. There are people who make a career out of this job. It is lucrative if you value equity over cash compensation. You can build a nice portfolio of early stage equity grants doing the “first business hire” gig for two or three years at a time and then doing it again and again.
(Note: MIT means Most Important Thing)
There is one exception to the velocity rule: decisions that are not in the MIT path. My instinct used to be to make all decisions quickly. What I’ve learned the hard way is to ignore non-crucial decisions. If they are not MIT, they can either wait or be decided on by someone else. Making decisions fast and well takes a lot of effort, focus and energy – don’t waste it on unimportant things. You will be surprised how many things seem to work themselves out when you ignore them; if they come back to you again, they will have become more important, you will have had more time to collect more data and can make the correct (and swift) decision at that time.
You can gauge the quality of advice by asking questions. Does the prospective advisor give you the best answers you have ever heard? Could he teach a course at Harvard on the topic? Would you invest in him? If no, move on. If yes, engage him and squeeze his brain dry.