Across the Twin Cities metro area, organizations and individuals are sounding the alarm to support the entrepreneurial community. There are awesome initiatives dedicated to closing education gaps, creating peer groups, and connecting mentors to emerging startups.
As we develop the programming and design of Lunar Startups, we are so grateful to have a huge group of professionals asking us, how can I help?
Our answer, be a steward.
At the heart of the Lunar Startups program is our belief that increasing access to networks, access to capital, and access to new customers will result in equitable growth for startups. We’re asking the Twin Cities business ecosystem to practice 5 easy steps to help us unlock opportunity for all of Minnesota’s high growth businesses.
Take the meeting
Trite as it may be, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a real indicator of success for entrepreneurs. We’re all busy, so when someone makes an introduction - say yes to a 30 minute coffee.
You benefit by expanding your network, hearing how an emerging innovator is thinking about a problem in their community, and who knows, you might be the key to their future success. Triple whammy.
“I’ll introduce you” are the three most important words an entrepreneur can hope for following that coffee with a new contact.
Not only does it grow their potential network, it also increases the likelihood of having that serendipitous meeting that will result in the next phase of growth.
There is an understandable hesitation to not open your rolodex if you’re unsure if the potential connection will agree that it’s a valuable use of their time. We say, leave that decision up to the other person. Connect generously and allow people to make their own decisions on how they use their time. Bonus - this also allows you to correct for any unconscious bias you might have in making connections by treating all introductions equally.
In the modern age of technology, clicks, “likes” and shares create key metrics that are critical to getting new customers, demonstrating validity, and attracting capital.
Post about your meeting and tag the company or entrepreneur, “Like” their page and follow their social media channels.
Leave a review
If you have the opportunity to watch a demo, play with the tech, listen to an episode, or engage with the service, ask the entrepreneur where you can leave a review or make a recommendation.
It means more than you know to have people engaging digitally and amplifying the good ol’ word of mouth customer acquisition strategy.
The single most important way that you can support the entrepreneurial community is to become a customer, regardless if you’re the first or the 50th.
At every coffee chat, ask yourself, how might I become a customer of this product or service? And give yourself 48 hours to deeply consider.
Not every product or service will fit, but challenge yourself to think critically about this as an option. And if you’re not meeting with founders that fit your needs, consider other vendors and opportunities. Who might develop new swag for your team? Who is catering your next luncheon? Where will your next board meeting be hosted? There’s a startup that can help you, regardless of the specific need. Invest in a new company by becoming their next customer.
If you’re interested in becoming a steward for Lunar Startups, share about us in a tweet or post, then contact us at Hello@lunarstartups.org. We’d love to hear from you.