How to get help with your startup
1 Nov 2023
When you’re just starting out, and you’ve got nothing to work with, you need a whole lot of help. You need money. You need hands on deck. You need intros, clients, advice and just about everything else.
So how do you get help?
Well, the simple answer is you ask. Everyone. All the time. Like a rash.
There’s no ‘eureka!’ here. It’s just about being a badass who’s prepared to look like a fool or be ignored over and over again, for the greater good.
But there’s good news… People want to help. A lot more than you think. Social psychologist Heidi Grant, author of Reinforcements: How to get people to help you, says “People wildly underestimate the odds that others will help us”.
Tip: Ask for ‘a favour’ or ‘help’, and only after they’ve said yes, tell them what you want them to do.
Many studies have shown that asking for help - using that word, or similar words - first, and only then circling back to say what you need them to do, is more effective than asking for the thing itself right off the bat.
Biologists further back this. It is common knowledge among neuroscientists that blood Dopamine levels (the hormone most-responsible for feelings of happiness, drive and satisfaction) increase dramatically when we do selfless things.
In other words, humans have a neurochemical bias to be amenable to helping each other! We’re wired to help each other, so if you’re bold enough to ask, you’re working with biology, not against it.
Tip: Be specific with what you want.
People want to help, but they don’t want to be used or manipulated. “Let’s connect” or “I’d love to chat” are terrible things to ask for. Because they know you don’t just want to ‘chat’, that you have a real agenda but are trying to sneak your way in.
And other tip: Make it personal.
People want to feel like they’re special. Asking 100 people for the same thing isn’t going to get you anywhere, because they’re just a number to you, they aren’t being singled out as someone who who really want help from. So make your requests personal, like you really want this specific person’s help.
There are platforms out there to help you get help. Like Kintro, and marketplace for advice where you can get intros to people who can help you, from your existing network. You can also just resort to good old fashioned email, and bear the tips above in mind.
So there it is - an uninspiring but implicitly accurate explanation of how you can be more successful in getting people to help you.