Entrepreneurs: Stop Wasting People’s Time!

Stop wasting time

No calm without coffee








I shifted uneasily in my chair. I was sitting on my own, too soon for another Latte I thought.  I looked out the window, watching the meat packers struggle with their load for the local market. Not much longer now I hoped…

I was there to meet an Entrepreneur who asked me if I’d help him test a demo of their new product.

Although I didn’t really know the guy and my schedule was packed as full as an Irish bar on St Patrick’s day, I’m always keen to spread Entrepreneurial karma. So, I said sure, I could meet for 30 minutes at 11am.

There I was in Starbucks, 11.22am. No sign.

‘Excuse me’ the cute girl beside me asked: Are you here to see an accountant? Nope, seems we’ve both been stood-up.

A minute later he rocks up. Excuses are given. No stress, I say. I’ve only 10 mins now, so let’s rock into it.

So I spend about 15 mins using his demo and giving feedback. It’s a pretty good concept actually. Sure it still needs work, but the guy (and team) are making progress which is the best part.

However, I left Starbucks, unable to shake a negative feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. Best I can describe it is: taken advantage of, unappreciated and a bit used.

Remember the last time you met someone that was all take, take, take? You just knew in your gut that they had NO interest in helping you, but rather were just interested in what they can get from you?

I reflected on this feeling later in the afternoon. Why did I feel it?  Am I just getting too emotional in my old age?

Later that afternoon I got an email. I thought: fair play at least he’s following up with heartfelt thanks

Until I opened it and saw:


I love you too








A thank you, with more requests. Man….this guy is All Take, Take, Take. I completed the survey but it’s the last thing I’ll ever do for him.

As entrepreneurs we often have to rely on people people’s goodwill and kindness to help us.

Don’t take this shit for granted!

If someone helps you out – be really appreciative of it! You don’t need to buy them dinner or bake them cookies, but be kind and considerate. Ask them how the important things in their lives are doing; at least pretend to be interested when they tell you. Trust me; this will get you a long way.

Being Take, Take, Take on the other hand is completely the antithesis of what creates brand advocates and supporters!!

Pot Calling Kettle Black

I can’t be too hard on this entrepreneur as I’ve been guilty of this same sin in the past too. I’ve left people waiting, not been as appreciative as I should be, and not helped people at their time of need.

We entrepreneurs are typically single minded, driven and focussed – but if this single mindedness gives us blind spots that upset those around us it will stop us reaching our goals.

Ultimately: Not appreciating people who give up their free time to help our cause.

Some suggestions how to not fall into this trap:

  • The first 5 mins of the conversation should be about them and what they’re doing (not all about you and your startup!!!) This is because fundamentally people don’t care about what you’re doing, they just care about themselves

If this is a new concept to you, you should read this book. (Free copy available here )

  • Be Early: This person is giving up his own time to help you for free, Gods sake don’t leave them sitting in Starbucks like a plum for 20 minutes waiting for you.

If people help you – repay them! (Not financially) Here are some suggestions how:

  • If they have a blog: Comment on their blog posts (people appreciate this)
  • If they’re on Twitter: RT their tweets  (people appreciate this)
  • If they have a startup:
    • Offer to demo their product
    • Make a connection with someone who might be useful to them
    • Do some research for ideas for them
  • Play it forward it some other way

In short: Just be thoughtful and think of the other person’s needs, not just your own.

They’ll be much more likely to help you again and tell their friends about your great product that way.

The world will be a better place (and Starbucks a little emptier)

 Your Turn: Have you ever felt this way? How do you thank people who help you?

About Howard

Howard is a Startup Marketer, Blogger & founder of 3 startups. Currently working with a London based Social Gaming startup.

View all posts by Howard

13 Responses to “Entrepreneurs: Stop Wasting People’s Time!”

  1. Mozart Says:

    Great post! It is really helpful to read this because it is difficult to navigate social ques when your communicating with other entrepreneurs using the web, so I appreciate you telling this story and helping us consider the implications of others’ good will.


  2. Mozart Says:

    Great post! It is really helpful to read this because it is difficult to navigate social ques when your communicating with other entrepreneurs using the web, so I appreciate you telling this story and helping us consider the implications of others’ good will.

    I help people by commenting on their content, being extremely honest no matter what on anything they request feedback on, and being a brand advocate for helpful people. Going forward, my growth point could be being more mindful of folks time and writing things in brief. On that note,peace!


    • howard Says:

      Hey Mozart – glad you enjoyed. I know, you’re always great at supporting people, I really appreciate your comments here on the blog.

      I can tell by all your comments that you’re big on personal growth – that rocks!


  3. Matt Collins Says:

    Good for you for helping the guy out. And for reminding us to be appreciative. I know I’ve been guilty of taking people for granted at times, too, particularly when excited about some project or other.


  4. angelinvestor8 Says:

    Entrepreneurs should all learn startup etiquette. Along the way through your entrepreneurship journey, many will be more than happy to give you some sort of push, but yeah, it does help to be thankful and show some sort of gratitude to your benefactors, no matter how little or big their contribution is to your business.


  5. Mark Bowness Says:

    Howard, thank you heaps for posting it. I agree with your sentiment however I would like to add an further thought. You stated at the beginning of this post that you met up with this guy because you like to spread entrepreneurial karama and you did. Whether this guy turned up early, on time or late your intention was a positive one, to do something good in the world of business and you did. Irrespective of the other individuals shortcomings you accomplished what you set out to do, the karama circle flows and you will be rewarded. Of course your p*ssed off, you felt like you had wasted your time. The other guy should be more p*ssed off as he only got your insight for 10 minutes when he could have had 30mins, now that really sucks. On top of the fact that he didnt get to squeeze all the insight out of you that he could have done, you still go and get your damn karma. So, all is not so bad for you really, is it? Sucks to be him though!


  6. Pamela Says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Howard. You write with humour, and you have great phrasing and flow. You’re authenticity shines through.

    I’m a huge believer that everything happens for a reason, and this dude keeping you waiting gave you several things: a story worthy of sharing, 20 minutes you didn’t have to listen it him, 20 minutes by yourself which was likely more valuable, the karmic lesson for yourself, and the lesson we take away.

    For me, it is a lesson in intention. First, to be prepared, and second, to be on time. I’ve always been 10 minutes late, until realizing I’m only late because that is the story I tell myself. My intention now is to always be on time. Hell, it really is that simple. Hmmm, guess, it’d be better if my intention was always to be early…

    Whether we are standing in line, or waiting on someone, our time is valuable. And it is up to us to set the intention to use it well. We can have a powerfully, positive conversation with our self, any old time. We just have to be prepared and mindful about it.

    And, a third take-away: startup etiquette…that’s a good niche market. That’d be so worth the dude standing you up if you could turn that into $$!

    You rock, giving him your time, not just once, but twice. Cheers!


  7. Ben Says:

    Great post Howard – and well done for giving a helping hand


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