Everyone loves a startup. Maybe it’s our collective support of the American dream, maybe it’s an admiration for the courage it takes to make that leap, or possibly it’s just people’s natural inclination to help out someone who’s just starting out.
You need to ride that wave. As a brand new company, you can probably use all the help you can get. When I started my first ad agency, my business partner’s neighbor let us borrow all kinds of furniture she had in a storage unit, which saved us some money. Another woman who owned an ad agency offered to let us have copies of her client contracts so we didn’t have to pay a lawyer to draft them right in the beginning. And all kinds of people referred us business to help us get up and going.
But it’s a brief window. You won’t be a startup forever, so take advantage of it while you can. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Ask other business owners for advice. Ask everyone you know for referrals. Ask a potential customer for the sale
Eventually, you’ll be the competition. In the beginning, other business owners in your industry see you as a kindred spirit, or maybe like a younger, greener version of themselves. But sooner or later, as your company begins to pick up steam, that willingness to help will decline. Think of it as a compliment. This means people now consider you a strong competitor.
Don’t forget the people who helped. As the years go by, your company may surpass the success of those owned by people who helped you out in the beginning. Be gracious about acknowledging what they did for you. In public, if possible.
Pay it forward. Once you’ve got a successful business under your belt, it’s time to reach out to others just starting out. You could offer a piece of advice or some used equipment that makes all the difference for a new entrepreneur.
brief and beautiful window