Startups are fun, and startups are hard. Getting through the hard parts – ups, downs, yes, no, rejection, an invoice, first customer, lost customer – is what makes it fun. You look back and wonder how you survived sometimes! Any startup can be all-consuming. And that’s just building the startup, finding your niche, and then building a repeatable business. Then there’s everything else.
I recently had coffee with an entrepreneur who is really struggling with his startup. It’s a niche play, for sure, but it’s sexy and has a huge addressable market. But like most startups, there’s no money to hire 5 people and build a massive engaged audience. He’s tried for months to raise money, but has not been successful. Herein lies part of his stuggle.
I’m sure it can be true in other startup cities, but I’ve never lived through those, so I only know Atlanta. Here, you can get caught up, consumed, and overtaken by the sheer volume of “events” to attend, all in an effort to find that investor who will write a check. Each of these meetings has purpose and results; however, nobody – NOBODY – has any business attending all of them.
Some have tried to go to networking meetings, pitch meetings (disclosure: I run Pitch Practice), growth hacker meetings, investor meetings, strategy meetings, SEO meetings, marketing meetings, co-founder dating meetings…still no money, and few investors. This merry-go-round of attending meetings and thinking that your presence there will somehow get you noticed is a frustrating and inefficient method of moving towards success.
This entrepreneur asked me what he should do. My advice: get to work, and get traction. His business is based largely on visual appeal, and the social marketing tools available today to support that are strong and, more importantly, free. They just require some solid knowledge to reap a great audience.
So don’t get trapped in the networking meeting merry-go-round. Get to work. Get traction in the form of users and paying customers. Then, if you need it, you’ll have a much better shot at getting investment capital. If you need it.