Well, I’m as swamped as I’ve been in a long time, thanks to a business trip to Illinois to work with a University on commercializing a beautiful market maker website and technology for agricultural users. This was a great trip, and here’s a mish mash of lessons:
1. Universities are an untapped market. Many of you who live near universities should consider stopping by some departments to discuss potential projects for outreach to constituents. In two days, this particular university department (agricultural extension) received requests to create a bunch of sites that will become the “go to” sites for a variety of natural resources and recreational research. They can’t do any of this on their own, and need people with good ideas to help create commercialization (e.g. advertising and premium membership) models.
2. Part of the trip involved pitching to a local venture capitalist. I helped develop the business plan and pitch. If you have yet to pitch to a VC or investor, make it part of your goals. It’s fun, exciting, and you get great feedback (or brutal feedback). In this case, the VC thought he knew what we were pitching, but didn’t. Our mistake was going off script instead of sticking with our key themes and “story.” But we also learned that this particular VC has a different mission than our particular venture, and so the fit is not there.
3. During the trip, 2 other prospective clients reached out to me, adding over $50K to my pipeline. When you visit a large organization, try to get visible while you are there walking the halls. In this case, my client sponsor helped me get visible and was very helpful in this regard.
4. Don’t underestimate your value. Sometimes I take what I do for granted, like helping people get organized and move forward to grow a business. But the client found this enormously valuable, and helped me think more about the value I bring, so I can describe it to others. Nothing beats having your own clients tell you how to describe your value to others.
5. During business trips, find time to do other work so you aren’t overwhelmed when you return, as I am now. I just hung out at my hotel room, when I could have done a better job catching up.
Okay, back to work…..