Every entrepreneur knows that relationships are the key to success. It’s important to build relationships with mentors who can help you when the going gets tough, trustworthy investors who can fund your growth, and experts in your field who can serve as advisers.

But there are many other relationships that you may be writing off as not that important. Developing relationships with certain, oft-untapped groups has served as a critical driver of success at my last two multimillion-dollar startups.

Here are four groups of people I recommend spending more time with, starting today.

Bootcamp directors and computer science department heads

Hiring engineers early in your startup’s life can be tough. You need top-quality help, but typically don’t have a top-quality budget. My secret for tapping the best entry-level talent out there is to get to know the folks who are educating the next generation.

Entrepreneurs know they should be keeping an eye on their competition, but I believe in building a relationship with my rivals.

Obviously, if you have a computer science degree yourself, starting with your alumni connections is step one. But even if you don’t, you’re likely surrounded by local universities or community colleges with strong computer science programs. Larger cities also have bootcamps that churn out engineers with solid project experience under their belts.

By getting to know the leadership at these organizations, whether that’s department heads, career services directors, or even notable teachers and professors, you can get amazing benefits, such as invitations to career fairs, insider info, and introductions to rising stars who could be the perfect fit for your company.

Disgruntled customers

You likely already seek feedback from your customers. It can be tempting to focus on customers who are generally happy and offer incremental thoughts on how the product could improve. But if you want the most efficient and valuable feedback, spend most of your time talking with customers who truly need what you’re offering but are unhappy with your product.



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