The “Early Stage Founder” Card

(Originally appeared on Indie Hackers)

As the founder of an early stage company, you have a unique tool you can use, but it only lasts for a limited time. It’s the “Early Stage Founder” card.

You can use this card when talking to customers, seeking mentorship, negotiating deals… it’s versatile. It goes something like this:

“Hey, I’m an early stage founder. I’m just starting out, and…”

  • Asking if you can interview a potential customer: “I’d love to ask you a few questions about how [problem area] and the problems you face with it.”
  • Asking for mentorship: “I could use some help with a situation about X. You seem experienced with this kind of thing, so I wanted to ask if you could offer me any advice?”
  • Negotiating a contract: “This is a little too expensive. Could you offer a discount?”

People generally have sympathy for small business owners that are “just trying to make it”. Especially others that have been in your shoes.

It’s about being transparent, and not hiding the fact that you’re not (yet) a big, “professional” company. Showing vulnerability builds trust, and brings peoples’ guards down.

Once you start growing, and are no longer “just starting out”, this card disappears. So use it while you can.

Any thoughts?