I met with “John” at a coffee ship where we were to discuss his business idea that involved sports sponsorship and the internet. John put down his crisp manila folder down on the table and we introduced ourselves as we ordered coffee. John spent probably 10 minutes explaining his idea and I spent another 20 minutes asking him questions. Finally I asked him what was in the manila folder.
Embarrassingly, it was empty.
It turned out that John’s idea was no more than that. He hadn’t actually conducted any researched or validated anything he had said. He just thought it was a really good idea and hoped I would make it happen for him. I tried really hard not to be angry with John for wasting my time (not completely successfully) as I like to be responsible for myself. I was the one who let him waste my time.
This coffee with John occurred about 7 years ago and I vowed I would never have my time wasted like that gain. And I haven’t since developing a really simple technique. I have shared this technique with others on occasion who have enjoyed it and I got reminded of it the other day, so I though I would write it down.
The Lesson – If someone wants you to do something for them, get them to do something first.
It almost doesn’t matter how small the task is. The world is full of wannabees who aren’t prepared to step over the smallest barrier to make their “dream” come true.
eg. Email me a one page briefing note first. I will then get my assistant to tee up the meeting.
eg. Can you email me names of the two businesses that people are currently spending money with to solve the problem today?
eg. Can you register the business name, and send me the registration number?
It doesn’t matter how good their idea is, if they are fail at the first hurdle, you can never do business with them.
My experience to date is around 90% of people that want to catch up for a coffee to discuss their idea cannot cross the first hurdle. My pay off is that I remain calm and simply don’t waste time with dreamers.
John’s killer idea never made it to the one page brief.