This is entrepreneurial mistake #3. If you don’t ask for it, you can’t get it (except by luck).
Sometimes we don’t ask for the things that mean a lot to us. It’s scary – what happens if you are turned down? Then you have to face the disappointment of… well… reality.
It’s worse, though, to guarantee disappointment by not asking for what you want. If you don’t try, you don’t have to face failure. But if you don’t try, the world cannot become aware of your needs and wants.
Too often, entrepreneurs do everything they can personally do to make a startup move forward… but then they freeze up when it comes time to ask for something from others. This is why many people focus on the product they are building, or the software they are developing, or the Website of their services company. These things can be controlled and built almost completely by the entrepreneur themselves.
What about the investor money needed to market the product effectively, though? Or the signed contract from the customer? What about the additional members of the management team who you want to work for no paycheck (equity only)? The experienced entrepreneur in your industry who you want on the board of advisors?
Most businesses do not get off the ground without a lot of connections to the world at large. Most of them also require the efforts of several people. You can’t get these things without asking for them. If you need the advice and network connections of someone in your industry, but you can’t pay them anything, then you’ll just have to find out if they are willing to help. Finding out requires the old-fashioned method of actually requesting this help in a direct fashion. It is true that this experienced person may say “no”. They certainly can’t say “yes” to a question that has not been asked, however.
I have watched quite a few entrepreneurs reach a point in their startup when it became time to ask for serious help, or a substantial investment. They froze up and somehow just never got up the courage to take the next step. In fact, an acquaintance of mine recently told me that he was seriously frustrated by the number of entrepreneurs that never followed up with him after initial conversations about placing an investment from his firm into their startup business. He managed to reach some of them to ask them why, and several admitted that they were scared to take the next step… so they chose to avoid the situation, instead.
When your dream – your vision – requires a bold move to take the next step forward, you may want to take a minute to think it through. Are you nervous? Worried it may not pan out? There is only one way to make it happen, and it is going to take courage. Ask for what you want in a very direct fashion. Be clear about the terms and amounts, and be confident. You are asking because you believe in what you want… and you should let that shine through. If you get turned down, at least you can move forward with other options. Not making a move will only keep you frozen in a holding pattern.
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