“I don’t have Facebook”
Recently a founder of one of the StartMate teams told me: “I don’t have Facebook”. I told the team, I can’t help you until I see his friend request on Facebook. Was I too harsh? I don’t think so. There are a few reasons why I think having a strong online presence and being digitally approachable are important for entrepreneurs.
Understanding the market
If my start-up targets consumers in their 20’s and I’m not intimately familiar with Facebook’s API and how Facebook is used and works, how can I design for my audience, who spend more time on Facebook than any other site? Start-ups fail, unless they don’t. I want to optimize my chance of not failing in all dimensions of my start-up. Having and using a Facebook account is super easy. As a start-up founder I have no excuse for not having a Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter account.
People will Google me. For me the worst outcome would be that they don’t find anything! If I Google someone and can’t find anything, I assume one of two things: They have hidden their online presence, so I wonder what they have to hide. OR they don’t have an online presence, so they don’t understand the internet. For plenty of people this is not an issue, but as an entrepreneur, this is something you can’t afford.
Things I would have missed without putting myself out there? I’ve been contacted out of the blue by journalist for articles that helped my business, by investors, by CEO’s of businesses in a similar space, by potential employees. etc. Without networking and openness my previous company Tjoos would not have been as big as it was (thanks Geoff for telling us about oDesk), I would not have known about the Citrix Startup Accelerator, which invested in ZeroMail, I would not have met the hundreds of great and inspiring people I’ve met along the way. A Facebook account isn’t the only thing you need, but it starts there… no Facebook account, being paranoid of publishing your email address, protected Twitter updates to me are not only the first steps toward missing opportunities, but also signs of personality traits that will not help entrepreneurs succeed.
My phone number, email address, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc are all over the web. I don’t get bombarded with prank calls, email spam, etc. In fact, people are too lazy to even do a Google search. Instead they send me a message on LinkedIn to ask for my contact details. I’m just not that important. Basically, nobody cares. So if you’re an entrepreneur and you protect your email address like it affects national security or you’ve completely locked down your Facebook so people can’t even send you friend requests… do yourself a favor, get over yourself, accept that nobody cares, relax, share and open yourself up to more opportunities.