Do What You Said You'd Do...Or Don't Say It

vintage photograph of two...
vintage photograph of two...

Communicating with startup entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur working furiously to launch a massive startup, I have surrendered to the hard and cold fact that I cannot do it alone. No one can. It takes a certain moment in the entrepreneurial life-cycle to get to the point of surrender. That moment doesn't come easy for anyone that has the nerve to walk away from a full-time career, move their family 1,200 miles and "go for it".
One of the key distinctions I've come to learn, and see repeatedly, between self-starting entrepreneurs and the rest of the corporate world, is the demand for precision in our language and communication. When sitting with a potential investor or potential stakeholder, there is no place for casual language especially as it relates to the investment of OPM (other people's money). Consequently, in order to succeed, the entrepreneur must sharpen those communication skills and be crystal clear in their communication.

As a result of running through this "communication gauntlet", the ability to immediately identify lazy and otherwise careless communication in the process can be dizzying. "I will get back to you tomorrow", "let's talk in the next day or two" and "I'll discuss with my team and get back to you shortly" are gold standard of responses to virtually any request. And while I believe that the professionals that offer those responses believe them, in reality they have a 0-2% chance of actually occurring.

The key for the entrepreneur in this process is to have so much activity that when someone doesn't keep their word in getting back to you, there's no loss on your end. With the increased activity and possibilities, it becomes their loss. Still, if you're the person working with the entrepreneur, try and remember that their clock is ticking, every moment of every day. Long holiday weekends are terminal for an entrepreneur in the process of launching. There is no "enjoy the long holiday weekend", it's just four more days until the rest of the world can get back to work. When you're working with, or just communicating with them, please just do what you said you'd do...or don't say it.