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The Entrepreneur’s Guide To 4 Categories Of Business Meetings

by Dori Sella, author of “Business Meetings that Work: 6 Steps to Increase Productivity

Starting a business, whether it’s based on technology, a new marketing concept or a product is always exciting. Once you have gone past the initial stage of developing your idea and clarifying what your business is going to be, you will have many business meetings. This is of course assuming you are prepared to go out of ‘stealth mode’ – don’t laugh.

Many startup companies stay undercover for years afraid of sharing their idea as someone might steal it.
The question is – How can you have the most productive business meetings?

From my years of experience working with many entrepreneurs, including technology companies, finance and real-estate, product and coaching, I have found that there are 4 main categories of business meetings that occur when building a business. Being aware of the different types of meetings, and focusing on the specific objectives for each type of meeting is key to getting the desired results which means productive and effective business meetings.

Do I prepare differently for each type of meeting?

Actually, not necessarily! There are basic steps to take when preparing for every meeting. However, knowing the objective is always the first step. When you know what type of meeting it is, you can then clarify what the specific objective is for the meeting and how you want to approach it.

The 4 categories of business meetings in the entrepreneurial stage are:

1. Idea Validation and Development.

Depending on the complexity of the idea, most entrepreneurs will do some sort of research that will include meeting with people who are either in the field, potential customers, partners etc. The main objective of the meeting is to validate the idea and/or to get ideas on how to develop the solution/product or the business. This type of meeting will usually take place with a trusted person or someone who was personally recommended to you. Even large multi-national companies talk to their trusted customers about new ideas to get validation and or ideas for product development.

Small businesses often times are not aware of their network and the people they can access to get important feedback just by asking. In general, people like to help and to give their opinion (more about networking below). When the discussion is focused and the objective is clear, even the smallest of businesses will be able to benefit from advice.

2. Develop Partnerships.

Using the word ‘Partners’ in the broadest sense, it means anyone who can help you advance your business. You may have an amazing idea and need a technology partner to help you develop it. As an author, I consider my editor my partner as well as my designer. It may be colleagues who offer a similar service with whom you want to join forces in marketing efforts or share an office with. These may be people whom you will have to pay, or they may be people/companies who will benefit from the partnership to develop their own business.

Business partnerships always involve a business advantage to both sides of the partnership

3. Fund Raising.

You need money to run a business. You may be self-funding, then the ‘meeting’ is with yourself when you make the decision to invest in yourself and even then, you will most likely have a fund-raising meeting with your bank.

One of the key tips for entrepreneurs when conducting fund raising meetings is to be focused on the objective and less on discussing their idea. It’s wonderful that you are passionate about your idea, be aware of how much the investor wants/needs to know to make their decision and don’t get carried away with the details of what you do and how it works. (Everyone makes this mistake – even me!)

4. Customer Development.

Customers should be the core of your business – without them, you may have a great idea, but it’s not a business. You may be going out right away and selling your service/product, or you may need to run trials in advance. In any event, developing customers is a combination of marketing and sales. If your business is online, your meetings are on-line as well, but they are still business meetings and should be treated as such. Irrespective of the complexity of your business, the clearer you are on your specific objective when meeting your customers – the more results you will see.

Important!

You may be meeting the same people for different types of meetings. It’s also ok to change your objective if you see you aren’t going to get your initial objective. For instance, you may have hoped to raise funds but end up with some good ideas and leads to partnerships. That may happen – at the same time, when you are preparing, prepare for one type of meeting and be open for other outcomes.

To great business meetings!

 

Dori Sella recently published her first book “Business Meetings that Work: 6 Steps to Increase Productivity“. She has over 30 years’ experience working around the world in both the high-tech and service industries. She has participated in thousands of meetings in over fifty countries with hundreds of different companies. During the past 10 years, Dori’s work has focused on training and consulting with top management and sales teams within global and startup companies.

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