Last week, a new friend here in the Wilmington ecosystem, wrote a really great article titled “Looking for investors? Then remember this- no on loves and Askhole”. There was a lot of good advice for start-ups in that piece. As I read the article, I thought about founders, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. How do we, as F3TCH, show gratitude?
The reason the “ASKhole” resonated is that as entrepreneurs and start-ups, we usually ask for a lot. We often depend on asking and those who ask get, those who do not ask go unsupported. It’s not a perfect method, but it can work very well. Asking for favors, or help, is part of being a start-up, just like having to manage and make do with limited resources.
Saying “thank you” properly is much more than simply saying “thank you”, and just to be clear you should always say “please” and “thank you”. Mom was, and always is right, on all things manners. But saying thank you, while mandatory, is not as powerful as saying thank you by doing the right thing. What is the right thing?
1. Be prepared. I have been to recent meetings and opportunities where we were the only company that was prepared. Oftentimes start-ups “wing it” and many times that works, but it is disrespectful to the folks who introduced you or are helping you with that opportunity. If the meeting has a rubric or the pitch has parameters, follow them. While representing your company is the priority, you also need to remember that you represent the folks who got you that coffee meeting, that pitch contest, or that intro to a potential client. Do your best to prepare well, it will make the meeting better and it will also show your supporters that you are serious and here “to do business”.
2. Commit. When you get an opportunity, do it. The more you do, even if some events may seem irrelevant, the more momentum, contacts, and progress you will make. If you get a pitch opportunity, get that form filled out. If you get a referral, make contact and follow up. If you get a seminar link sent to you, sign up. Do whatever it is you need to do as quickly as time and schedules permit. Getting help and optimizing that help are two different things. If you ask, then be committed to undertaking the suggestions.
3. Pay it Forward. If you get the chance, emphasize that success was a result of X introducing you or getting the advice from X. Be generous in your success and the reasons for that success. It is not just good business to be generous with your praise, but oftentimes, it is also very true.
None of the above is easy to do consistently in real-time. After all, time is our most precious commodity. But it is these extra actions, being conscious of how our behavior affects those who support us in our entrepreneurial effort, that make a difference. If nothing else, you prove that you are a company worthy of support and trust.
Remember, no one must help you or your company. That people do help and give you valuable help, is a real blessing and we should put our best effort into maximizing any opportunities. Our companies, our stakeholders, our investors, our employees, and our supporters deserve nothing less than our best. Commit to being a “thankasaurus”.