I bet you have heard the following expression numerous times: “When you’re in a startup you’re always selling”. A lot of people I’ve met over the years sign up for this mantra intellectually — but haven’t truly internalized it. And yet: It is paramount to your success that this line becomes second nature to you.
Take fund-raising as an example: In a startup you are in permanent fund-raising mode. Even when you’re not directly working on your next round of financing you should be on the lookout for money. Every interaction you have with someone who might be a potential investor (e.g. the senior industry executive you met for coffee) is an opportunity to sell. That doesn’t mean you need to be overly aggressive — but missing an opportunity to sell your company, your products & services should be inexcusable. Simply end your conversation with a nonchalant “Oh — by the way. We are raising a round — would you be interested in participating. We would love to have you be part of our journey.” or if you’re not actively raising modify that line to “We are not currently raising — and would love to have you participate in our next round as you would make an awesome addition to our team of investors.”
In my previous startups this simple ending to my conversations with people I met for coffee and for completely different reasons than funding landed me a good third of the money we raised. And even if people didn’t invest — they often referred me to other amazing people who did.