Above my work desk, where I’m sitting right now, I have a picture of a knockout in progress. Or maybe it’s a roundhouse kick, I’m not sure; I’m not an expert when it comes to fighting. But earlier this week, I had a great phone chat with Eric Friedman, (Director of Business Development at foursquare), about raising money, finding advisors and seeking advice. As he said something that made a ton of sense, I happened to look up at this picture. I then had a huge head-slapping moment, when the only words I could think to say was: “Oh, duh.”
Sometimes it takes an expert, outsider or skeptic to make us step back and recognize something that was right in front of our face the entire time. This time, this “duh” moment was about what Friedman calls a “punch list.” Some people might refer to their to-do lists as punch lists, but he had an interesting take on it.
He asked me a very simple question I couldn’t answer right away: “What are your top five pain points/stresses?” After thinking about this, I could easily answer the question: fundraising, user/community member acquisition and defining which very specific key metrics to focus on in the MVP (that will hint at future growth or need to pivot), to name the top three. But the fact is, I didn’t have those things at the tip of my tongue, nor written down to reference. No bueno.
Here’s the advice he gave me, which made me say “duh”, but will ultimately save me time (and money on coffees, transportation, etc), and save me from wasting others’ time:
- Know your top 5 pain points/stressors, and zero in on one, so when you ask anyone for advice, you know how that person can help from the initial communication. “Here are the set number of things I’m trying to accomplish, here’s how you could help…thank you.”
- This list is golden, because it is really about you and the real problems you’re facing as a company or founder. If you don’t come equipped with these, then people will give you general, boiler plate advice that may or may not be applicable to your situation.
- OPTIMIZE YOUR TIME (this was in caps in my notes). If someone can’t help you with your 1 - 5, be nice, but move on.
- One of my favorite pieces of advice: Use these chats with advisors, contacts and potential users as a distributive model to get the story of your business told. Instead of starting from scratch on every single call or email, have a blog post or elevator pitch to reference, and a little bit about yourself. After he mentioned this, I changed the signature in my email from my name, Parceld.com and my twitter handle to include “What is Parceld?”, with a link to learn a little more about what we’re building.
What is Parceld?
t - @brianne_garcia
From this point forward, unless my meeting with someone is really for the benefit of any of the items on my punch list, I have to say no, or maybe later. This might sound selfish, but coffee is expensive, and right now, so is time.