By paying attention to the people & businesses in your vicinity, you’ll often find you can merge your startup goals with your day-to-day. You don’t need a meeting.
In a pub recently, someone was bouncing ideas off me about a business providing cool techy services to… well, pubs. The waitress came by to ask if we needed anything. “This is a bit off topic, but yes, we do. You guys have a huge venue — how on earth do you go about filling it with people and keeping track of what’s happening?”
Instant workflow discovery.
I was getting a new bank account yesterday and found myself talking to the small business manager. We chatted a bit, and before leaving, I mentioned I’m involved with various London events for student entrepreneurs (who eventually need business bank accounts). I asked about how they get dealflow for small business accounts, what sort of events they like to sponsor, and whether it would be a promotion/HR/CSR spend.
This particular bank ended up being non-relevant. That’s great to know.
A meeting saved is a meeting earned.
Incidentally, at one of my previous companies, we had tried to get this same meeting with this exact person and we couldn’t make it happen through formal channels. Turns out, I just had to wander in there and say hello.
The people your startup rely on are all around you.
That’s one of the reasons I [personally] prefer London to the valley. Investors are enablers, but customers are the key.
In a city like London or NY or Berlin, you’ve got every imaginable customer at your fingertips. In the valley, I had to get on a plane every time I wanted to take a meeting.
Engaging the customers around you is a terrific way to get beyond the obvious first steps.