What Your Flaky Behavior Is Really Telling People It's important to effectively manage your time and schedule, at least if you don't want to burn dozens of bridges.
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There are certainly no shortage of reasons -- or excuses -- as to why you needed to cancel a meeting 30 minutes before it was scheduled, or why you were 20 minutes late for a call or appointment. I know what you're thinking: "but I was super busy" or "my previous investor meeting went long."
The reality is you're going to be judged by your actions, and your actions are saying the wrong things.
Look, I've lived in the trenches of startup warfare -- actually I'm in them right now while building two companies simultaneously -- so I can both honestly and accurately say that I understand that things get crazy. But I must also say that it's incredibly important to effectively manage your time and schedule, at least if you don't want to burn dozens of bridges through your journey, which will only make things more difficult in both the short and long runs.
Let's take a look at a short list of what your actions -- or lack thereof -- are really saying.
1. You're incapable of managing your schedule.
You've got multiple calendars going and you just can't seem to keep track of the time requirements for and between scheduled meetings and events. From an investor standpoint, your inability to manage your own schedule means you're going to destroy potential business opportunities when you're late to those meetings -- which is going to make it exceptionally difficult to create solid relationships and complete deals.
You're also going to show up late to meetings with your team members and employees, which is going to define your company's culture and expectations. Remember, the crap rolls downhill.
2. You only care about your own time.
This point is really an consequence of the previous one but is important to detail. When you have a meeting scheduled with someone, whether by phone or in person, that individual(s) has reserved that time on their schedule for you. So when you cancel the meeting with a late notice -- essentially, the day of -- you've likely completely eliminated that person's ability to replace that time with another revenue-generating opportunity or meetings and are showing that you're inconsiderate of their time.
I assure you, they don't appreciate it.
3. You over-plan your day.
While this point is certainly tied into schedule management, I'm always amazed how many people just flat out schedule far too many meetings in a given day -- really leaving them no opportunity to be on time. The goal in the life of a startup isn't to be as busy as possible. It's about being as efficient as possible with the limited amount of time available.
If you find yourself being late as a result of having too many appointments on your schedule, stop and understand that your problem is very fixable -- and you must fix it before people stop taking your calls.
4. Your priorities can burn bridges.
As entrepreneurs, we naturally prioritize our days, meetings, calls and events. For example, if you're in fundraising mode, you might push a call last minute with a potential distributor to speak with the venture capitalist that you've been trying to get in front of for months.
Although it may seem appropriate to make this decision, you run the risk of turning off the distributor and burning a potential sales opportunity, because you've wasted their time. Instead, let the VC know you have a previously scheduled call with a potential distributor and that you'll need to schedule a call at another time. I promise, they want you to grow sales and will happily schedule a better time.
In the big scheme of things, you often don't know how much that potential call or meeting can affect your business. Being tardy or cancelling with late notice is really putting you and your company in a major hole right from the start, which will be incredibly difficult to get out of.