How to prevent manufacturers from avoiding your startup? (Part 2/2)

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How to prevent manufacturers from avoiding your startup? (Part 2/2)

If you have missed the first part of this article, find it here: How to prevent manufacturers from avoiding your startup? (Part 1/2)

4. Listen Carefully

Listening effect (photo: seek.co.nz)

Listening effect (photo: seek.co.nz)

First of all, please accept that you don’t know everything and you never will. Each conversation you’ll have with a partner can teach you a lot. These are things you don’t learn at school. They are impossible to be taught by others – no one goes around and explains in details how a meeting with someone should go.

You’ve got a specific role, requesting someone to sell know-how. If you listen carefully you will see service providers and manufacturers are trying to defend their expert’s positions and sometimes show off their knowledge. Perfect! So listen, learn and ask questions. If a manufacturer says you’re not ready for manufacturing, instead of looking for someone else to tell you sweet lies, try to understand what else you need to get where you want.

However, not all partners will share their knowledge for free and sometimes you’ll have to pay a consulting fee.

5. Have Realistic Deadlines

You have your prototype and you think manufacturing will be done in 3 months. Sorry, that’s just not true. A more realistic timeline is six months long and probably more. If you go from a prototype to finished production run in 3 months, then it means your product is super simple, or you can expect quality issues from the factory. Partners will explain that your deadlines are unrealistic. Don’t make the mistake of saying you must “deliver or die” because your backers are waiting. You promised a wrong delivery deadline, but now you want to drag in partners in your chaos? That’s not your partner’s fault. On top of that, if you start insisting on impossible deadlines, you will demonstrate that you’re a business novice and some people will take advantage of that.

Some manufacturers will accept pushy people with impossible deadlines. But they never sign-off a deadline. Then gradually as things progress, you start figuring out that it is impossible to be “on schedule.”

6. “Good Quality, Fast and Cheap”

These three things don’t go together, so don’t show your lack of knowledge by expecting them.

Even if it’s common sense, many startups try to achieve this utopia due to financial pressure. Or sometimes investors put that pressure on them not understanding that too many challenges too early, can break a team’s spirit

Hardware manufacturers are particularly sensitive to this utopia.

Hardware manufacturers are particularly sensitive to this utopia.

An example of too much pressure is found in startup accelerators. While these programs bring plenty of advantages to their alumni, expecting someone to jump up to the next level in 3 months or so might not be a suitable pace of development for every team or product.

7. Avoid Buzzwords and Stay Professional

First of all, not all people celebrate a startup culture (whatever that is). Some people just “started a business” or “run a new business.” Also, not everyone understands the jargon.

If you do something you feel great about, from the perspective of others it might not be as attractive as it is for you. While it is encouraged to bring your personality into a relationship, carrying too much of “your” character might be detrimental, particularly when off-color language is used along with other jargon.

And, last but not least, please answer your emails! So many delays in projects happen when an email has been sent to a client and it takes days or weeks to confirm certain things. Projects get stuck. The impression that it gives is that people either don’t care about their projects or they’re not professional. It feels like talking to someone who is browsing his Facebook feed on a phone.

What are other useful suggestions for startups you would add to this list that will make their partners more willing to work with them? Please comment below.