LEVERAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS AND RESOURCES
Like every founder, you will bring a unique set of external connections and assets to your startup equation. Understanding how these match up with your startup goals and needs is a key step in getting your venture off on the right foot.
YOUR RELATIONSHIPS - Who can help? If you list the twenty, forty, or sixty-plus people (potential clients, family members, funders, team members, service partners, etc.) who might help you get your new business off the ground, I’ll bet you can sort and filter that list down to a handful of absolutely essential relationships. These are key relationships—the vital few that must work well in order for you to succeed. A financial backer, a spouse, an indispensable sales manager, a well-connected client, a board chair, a father-in-law, any of these might be a key relationship that can make or break your startup. These relationships constitute your greatest points of leverage, meaning that they bring the highest upside, as well as the greatest risk (if they are not working well). As these relationships go, so goes your startup.
Who are your key relationships? What is the state of each key relationship? For each relationship that is not rock-solid, what do you need to do to solidify the relationship? Answering and acting on these questions is one of the powerful, though not always easy, ways to reduce your risk and elevate your probability of success.
At a broader level, you can expand and organize your entire brainstormed list, including anyone and everyone who might help you, buy from you, or need to know about you and your new venture. Think about prospective customers, employees, advisers, service partners, vendors, investors, and referral sources. Cast the widest net possible and cultivate a helpful network and community around your startup. Try to take an objective look at the shape of your wider network and target future relationship-building efforts to fill any major gaps.
YOUR RESOURCES - What assets are available to you? It’s important to think through the type and amount of financial resources available to help launch your new venture and to provide an economic cushion until the business is generating healthy profits. These sources might include savings, existing or untapped lines of credit, physical assets that might be borrowed against, or interested investors waiting in the wings. In Chapter Five, I’ll discuss the importance of tapping the right mix of financial resources in a way that aligns with your goals and needs to ensure your venture has enough funding to get off the ground.