We all (hopefully) understand the value of a good to-do list by now. Only every single entrepreneur of note on the planet recommends we all use one, right?
But what about a list or two to keep track of the “who you know” in this world that can help propel your business to the next level?
This is the kind of information that can keep you up nights if you don’t start early.
Forget the name of a perfect someone who can help fix a current need you have or dilemma you’re in and you’ll never forgive yourself…
Here’s my 8 entrepreneur must-have lists for the day:
1. Existing investors and mentors and what they can do for you
Make a list right now of all your investors (if applicable) and mentors. Write down their skills, businesses they’re involved with, influential people they know (media, other business owners, other investors, etc). Also write down important dates like their birthday, wife’s birthday, kid’s birthday, etc., so you have a good reason to keep in touch while showing them how thoughtful you are.
2. Potential future investors
It doesn’t matter if you have enough money to keep your business afloat right now. When expansion time comes, you want to have a fairly condensed list of prime investor candidates that are a perfect fit for what you offer, and what you may offer in the future. Spend your time constantly refining this list and reaching out to those who you don’t know. This is perfect for tracking the “big fish” investor who you may not be ready for yet, even though you know where your company’s going in the coming months and years.
3. Current partnerships
Write down all your partnerships; be they financial, distribution, or other. A good example is other business owners and experts in industries that align with your future goals. You might not forget that you know Arianna Huffington and that she promised you a front-pager when you hit the Fortune 500 list, but it’s easy to forget the smaller relationships and their benefit to you. Such as businesses you can partner with or industry experts that can help you launch new product lines that compliment your current business model — or those who have skills in industries you want to break into, but haven’t yet. Trust me, as this list grows, you’ll thank me for it. As with investors and mentors, you want to list what they can do for you and how best to get in touch with them when you really need their help. Don’t forget to send out birthday and Christmas cards to all!
4. Desirable partnerships
For all the reasons mentioned above, you’ll want a list of those who you’d like to get to know and possibly work with in the future. Don’t skimp on their details when making this list!
5. People who can/want to buy your business
This is for the true entrepreneur. Not someone building a business that they’d never sell in a million years. Truth is, you’ll probably want to sell someday and move on to something else, after you’ve hit what you feel is the value ceiling on profitability, or when running the business becomes more trouble than the time put into it. Build a list of people you meet who express interest in acquiring your company, including as much personal and professional detail as you can learn about them. Don’t forget to say “hi” once in a while!
Yep. These guys get their own list and in most industries, it really should contain more names than any other, if you’re doing it right. You may wish you could forget you ever met some, but most of these folks are going to be your best friends when the time’s right. If you’re in tech or some other newsworthy hot industry, these folks can be your friends every day. Write down any and all media they contribute to. Send them Christmas cards as well, but try to consult this list as much as possible and look for ways you can help them, such as with a breaking story. Encourage the most important ones to contact you whenever they need information or other help you can offer.
7. Other entrepreneurs you know
You never know when you might need them. And they also understand that one good deed deserves another in the business world, should you need a favor. Write every single one of them down, along with their email and phone number if possible. You never know when you might need them. Using a tool like Twitter Lists or even dedicating a Google+ follower group is a perfect way to track and maintain these relationships.
8. People with above-average and useful (to you) talents
Every business needs a good website to maintain a presence, and will require a face lift now and again. When you meet a world-class coder, write down their info. Same goes for phenomenal graphic designers, copywriters, videographers, etc. Even the best plumber in the city should get a spot on this list, just in case. If you pride yourself on knowing and using the best, you’ll keep a list of people who’re the best at what they do, who can help your business or home life in one way or another at some point.
If you see a list that’s missing from this “list,” give it a shout out down in the comments and let everyone know.
Main Image Credit: Spyros Papaspyropoulos/Flickr