The "Early Stage Founder" Card

As the founder of an early stage company, you have a unique tool you can use, but it only lasts for a limited time. It's the "Early Stage Founder" card.

You can use this card when talking to customers, seeking mentorship, negotiating deals... it's versatile. It goes something like this:

"Hey, I'm an early stage founder. I'm just starting out, and..."

  • Asking if you can interview a potential customer: "I'd love to ask you a few questions about how [problem area] and the problems you face with it."
  • Asking for mentorship: "I could use some help with a situation about X. You seem experienced with this kind of thing, so I wanted to ask if you could offer me any advice?"
  • Negotiating a contract: "This is a little too expensive. Could you offer a discount?"

People generally have sympathy for small business owners that are "just trying to make it". Especially others that have been in your shoes.

It's about being transparent, and not hiding the fact that you're not (yet) a big, "professional" company. Showing vulnerability builds trust, and brings peoples' guards down.

Once you start growing, and are no longer "just starting out", this card disappears. So use it while you can.

  1. 6

    but, what's nice, is that after you're done with that card... it presumes that you're headed in the right direction! so, no need for it anyways!


    1. 1

      True, but even once you're done with it, you're not out of the woods yet :) You are right though- definitely on the right path, so hopefully you shouldn't need it as badly.

      1. 1

        oh, never. you'll always have it... scars and all!

  2. 2

    This is a great post and hopefully one that IHers are using frequently. I've used this card over and over again with great results.

    1. 1

      Thanks cyberbadger :)

  3. 1

    Good idea. Another one is to say you're a blogger and want to interview them. Everyone loves a promotion :)

    1. 1

      You don't even need to lie and say a blogger. In my experience, being a founder is enough of a reason to ask for an interview. :)

      1. 2

        I agree - why lie? It will always come back to bite you later.

      2. 1

        Well if you have a blog (which doesn't have to be on its separate domain), technically you're a blogger.

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