Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why Early Adopters Matter For Entrepreneurs

It's hard to believe that it was 6 years ago now that I was first looking at joining the Apple iPhone craze, a full 4 months later than the debut of the original in June 2007. I never considered myself an early adopter by definition but in reality I was when you consider how many more people joined the iPhone bandwagon since that time.

BusinessDictionary.com defines early adopter as follows:

Early adopter is the minority group (comprising about 14 percent) of population which, after innovators, is first to try new ideas, processes, goods and services. Early adopters generally rely on their on intuition and vision, choose carefully, and have above-average education levels.

Over the past few weeks, I have been blessed to speak to some of the very early adopters of my work with Relationships Matter Now, LLC. These are the people who in the very beginnings believed I was on to something with my mission to revolutionize relationships on planet Earth. Clearly, family and close friends count as early adopters but they are biased. So in my accounting of early adopters of Relationships Matter Now, I exclude those who were close to me before the time of launch. My early adopters are the tribe members that knew me but were not so personally invested and gave me the push I needed in ways they may never have even imagined. I'm gonna quickly highlight how each of them helped me when it mattered most and how my brushes with them lately seem to be of no coincidence.

Corporate C-Suite Executive

Early on, really before I started walking toward building Relationships Matter Now, I had a C-level HR executive in my network whom I connected with periodically regarding my corporate marketing career. This woman knew the ins and outs of how to maneuver in Corporate America and really was sharing with me lots of great insights on how to best manage my trajectory. When I decided that I may pursue something different, HR leader and professionals seems a likely target so I mustered up the courage to introduce some of my early ideas and concepts to this executive. Not only did she validate them as innovative and thought provoking, she assured me people would hire me - the marketing gal - for this type of work. She so quickly help me make the transition from marketing specialist to people specialist. During a recent lunch date, I was reminded of her push and validation of my early ideas as we are looking to collaborate on a project I'm pitching to big global company soon.

Non-profit Agency Leader

Stopped in the produce section of my local grocery store in front of me last Sunday was one of the early people who took meetings from me for potential work with Relationships Matter Now, a leader of a mid-sized non-profit from a neighboring community. Before I approached her to say hi, I was flashed back to the moment I first reached out to her and how she readily met with me as a fresh entrepreneur. I remember her willingness to meet with me several times and how she introduced me to who would become my business attorney. Then we spoke for what ended up being 30 full minutes right there over the granny smith apple cart. She said no less than 5 times how proud she was of me. She devoured my update stories of the clients I've secured as well as the ones on the hook that I'm pitching now. She once again, as she did so long ago, encouraged me with potential opportunities and thoughts of introductions. Funny, when we first met, I'd always hoped to have her agency as a client but in fact she has been so much more to me over the years as a early believer  and promoter of my work.

Tech Guru

Finally, I come to the tech powerhouse who was in my network as a loose connection only to convert into a close one when I asked for his support of the Pepsi Refresh Everything digital social good project.  He'd been a peripheral part of my tribe and supported me with votes over the many ups and downs of my participation in the program. When it all fell apart and I did not win the funding, this tech genius volunteered to do the work I was trying to win the money for... build my web presence. He came to the table in the early days matching his best talents to help me use mine. Today, he is one of my closest advisers and we talk and collaborate frequently. But it was his own putting his time and talent on the line to help me and mission that started it all.

You see the early adopters are what fuel the innovation for entrepreneurs. Those folks willing to "try" you out and notice, not one of my early adopters ever wrote me a check. Early adopters are critical to the success of any venture and understanding their value and what you gain from them fuels the future. It is no coincidence that I've been crossing paths again with all the people who were there initially to push me to start Relationships Matter Now. We are at a big crossroads for growth and seeing and interacting with each of those early adopters has given me the added boost I need to push through this new intersection.

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