5 Minute Biz Magic: Schedule It
For whatever reason, some entrepreneurs have a reputation for being flaky, noncommittal, big dreamers, and for having a lack of execution. Maybe that’s deserved by personal behavior; maybe that’s a stereotype specific to the startup sector. Whichever is the case, YOU don’t want to become known for that style of operating.
Consistency in operations creates trust. Customers value responsiveness, on time delivery, under budget, communication, support during times of stress, change, or failure, and investors and co-founders for sure value having a business partner who follows through. There’s nothing more frustrating than “waiting to hear back” from something or waiting FOR something that is past its expiration date.
One way to overcome this shiny-butterfly syndrome as an entrepreneur, is to make a personal commitment to remember, honor, and follow through on what you say you will do. In my experience working with very successful entrepreneurs and navigating the investment network, a stand-out trait for an entrepreneur to showcase is the simple habit of following up. Remembering action items called out in a meeting, doing them, and dropping a note or call to close the loop. It’s a cheap, easy, refreshing way to build trust with investors, customers, teammates, board members, and others involved in your business or venture.
My secret trick for optimizing the frequency and likelihood of consistent follow up? Schedule it. Schedule everything. Then cross it out or check it off when it got done. If something has to delay it, I re-schedule it to the next viable opportunity and definitely follow up then, with a note clarifying the extended timeframe so there is no ambiguity about when it will be accomplished.
Say you’ll call next week? Write that on your calendar. Promise to send a business plan the next day? Put that on GCal. Investor asks you to circle back in 3 months? Put that on your calendar and drop an email 3 months to the date of the offer. It’s surprising how few entrepreneurs are truly consistent with following up – the rollercoaster of the experience lends itself to a bit of chaos for sure, but this highly valued skill is so effective and generating opportunities, sales, offers, intros, and so forth, it should be top of the list for personal habits to cultivate, to accelerate ideas into thriving business ventures. Scheduling things and then holding yourself accountable to make good on your commitments, is an awesome, free, five-minute type of thing that makes a lasting difference in your efforts as an entrepreneur. My favorite example of diligent follow-up is the character of Chris Gardner, portrayed by Will Smith, as exemplified in this clip from The Pursuit of Happyness.
If you’ve made it this far into this 5 Minute Biz Magic article, good for you! I like to leave a challenge – so here’s this week’s: schedule the next 5 commitments you make, and go back and follow up on a few things you’ve dropped the ball on. You’ll be surprised at what comes your way. And let us know how it goes – drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear about your experience applying this skill.