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The 10 Relationships Every Entrepreneur Should Have


Buy lunch for the following 10 people in your life and you will thank yourself later

I try to network as much as I can and I love it. Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker who said, “Wait. You don’t have a banker??” I said no and proceeded to learn more about my small brain.

So it got me thinking: what other relationships should I have? Are there more? Here’s what I came up with and why.

Disclaimer: Please don’t read this as, “The 10 relationships your greed should be taking advantage of right now.” No — these are relationships you should be valuing and pouring into to foster a trusting, mutual festival of opportunity.

An entrepreneur is nothing without a network of relationships. But a network is ineffective if it doesn’t have at least one of each of the following relationships.

banker

Nothing epic was ever scaled without financial backing. Yes, Apple and Amazon started in a garage, but they would not be around if it weren’t for a relationship with a banker or investor. It takes funding to grow.

In your search for a banker, remember this: the sign of a good banker is that s/he wants you to succeed. Not only do they look for ways to help you achieve your financial goals, but you also grab lunch together. You know each others’ kids by name. This is the type of relationship you want with your banker.

A good relationship with a savvy banker will help you stand your ground when investors come around.

broker

With growth comes the need for space, whether it’s a storefront, warehouse, or office space. A good commercial broker has a pulse on the local real estate market — what’s selling and who’s buying — and knows who to talk to meet the needs of a growing enterprise.

A broker’s phone number is posted on signs and billboards everywhere in the city. Their phones are ringing constantly and their contact lists are inexhaustibly brimming with people and opportunities.

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writer

You’ve heard entrepreneurs make the best salespeople. Their passion and personal vibrancy attracts people and makes them listen. But an entrepreneur is only one person and one voice, who can be in one place at one time. Therefore, his message is limited to his or her immediate audience within earshot.

A competent writer captures the passion and vibrancy of an entrepreneur’s vision in words on paper, which then can be distributed to millions, everywhere, anytime. Find a writer who fully grasps your vision and can beautifully put it in writing.

Can’t find a writer? Look in a coffeeshop.

trainer

Poor health destroys the entrepreneurial drive. You can have the greatest , most creative ideas but if you don’t ever feel like working on them, then your ideas are useless.

The biggest reason why people don’t execute their ideas is because they don’t feel like it.

You might be thinking, no, it’s because I don’t have time. Well, I disagree. It’s because you get tired, worn out, or stressed. So you sleep, relax, watch something, eat, go out, or play video games. These are all alternatives to executing on your app idea or business plan.

Cut out unhealthy habits and get a personal trainer, running buddy or join a hiking group. Meet a yogi. Play basketball. You’ll find you feel like working more when you exercise with people and get appropriate sleep.

accoutant

Mismanagement of money is the number one reason why businesses close. Nothing will dampen the entrepreneurial spirit like financial paperwork, compliance, planning, and reviewing.

A solid relationship with an expert accountant is like bumper-to-bumper car insurance on your finances. You don’t have to worry about anything happening.

The more you grow, the more you’ll be relying on your accountant to keep your finances in perfect condition.

Have at least one CPA in your network, and take him or her out to lunch at a deli.

partner

Entrepreneurship can be the most exhilarating waterslide to race down, but where there’s water, you can drown. A life partner, such as a spouse, helps keep you grounded in reality.

The beauty of a personal partner is s/he knows you deeply and therefore can provide insight and caution when your ambition is taking up too much of your thoughts and time. A partner provides balance.

Hot tip: If you can combine #4 (The Trainer) with #6 (The Partner), then you have an amazing hybrid.

manager

Businesses are systems of operation geared toward accomplishing a goal. A founder sees the goal and discovers the system to get there, putting in place the necessary pieces. But once the business is set up, the entrepreneur is ready to keep moving. This is where it is critical to have a relationship with a manager.

A manager is not entrepreneurial. And this is an excellent thing. If the world consisted only of entrepreneurs we would still be re-inventing the wheel. Managers keep systems optimized and smooth. Entrepreneurs need people they can trust to whom they can hand over the reins of the business to manage the day-to-day operations. This giving-up-control frees them up to forge ahead into new, blue oceans.

Entrepreneur, it is never too early to start looking for your first manager. It’s only a matter of time before you offer him/her a very important job.

lawyer

As a company grows, it draws attention. The more attention a company gets, the more it becomes susceptible to liability. More employees, more countries, and more PR all contribute to an increase in the risk of legal non-compliance.

In these cases, it will help you tremendously to have a lawyer friend who you can call on to help you understand your rights and obligations. In the best scenario, nurturing this relationship will result in legal “preventative maintenance.”

Intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks, and forms of organization (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc.) are the playthings of attorneys. There is a reason why they have a law degree and you do not. A trusting relationship with an attorney is worth its weight in gold.

restaurateur

As an entrepreneur, you have lots of lunch meetings with people to talk about ideas and opportunities. The question is: where do you take them for lunch?

The next time you take someone out for lunch, remember this: familiarity precedes confidence.

In other words, you are more comfortable in a place you are familiar with, allowing you to focus and relax. A psychological phenomena, the “mere-exposure effect” states:

Exposure to a novel stimulus initially elicits a fear/avoidance response by all organisms. Each repeated exposure to the novel stimulus causes less fear and more of an approach tactic by the observing organism. After repeated exposure, the observing organism will begin to react fondly to the once novel stimulus.

The best way to familiarize yourself with an establishment is to befriend the owner and staff. That’s why the you will see the best reviews on TripAdvisor stem from an experience with the restaurant owner and staff.

technologist

Technologist is shorthand for web designer and app developer. The greatness of a technologist in your network is their ability validate and quote your tech-related startup idea in minutes. S/he can help you interpret data, construct an online brand, and build a digital presence from the ground up.

So you’ve thought of your new product idea and validated it. Now, you’ll need to rely on your technologist for guidance to vet a strong development team.

Better yet, maybe the technologist will just join forces with you for equity and boom, you’re headed to San Francisco with a startup. Then, scroll back to #1 and start growing your network effectively in a new city.


Here’s the one thing to remember from this post: network hard but network diversely. Cover the spread of trades listed 1–10 in this post. Your goal is to find at least one person you trust deeply in each area of expertise. Do this, and you’ll be set.

This article also appears on Medium and is published here with the permission of the author
Photo credit: flickr

in your inbox everyday at 10am CST.

No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Dave Schools

Writer, designer, content creator. Everything entrepreneurship and tech. Working on the disruptive http://cityswipeapp.com