A large part of a founder’s job is to make asks of busy people (like investors, board members, employees, future hires, etc). Unfortunately, I think the art of the “ask” has been lost (or has never been taught in the first place). Most asks that come from first time founders look more like a life story than an actionable request. It looks like three paragraphs of backstory along with a couple sentences of big vision, with a quick ask left somewhere in the middle for the the busy person to decipher. Well guess what? 9/10 times, they won’t take the time to figure out the founder wants… simply because they don’t have the time.
It’s not that they don’t have time to help. It’s that they don’t have time to figure out what help is needed. Even though founders have an hour to craft the message to what they think is perfection, that message sits among thousands of emails vying for a busy person’s attention. They have 30 seconds to read and act. Due to this dynamic, if you have an ask for a busy person, just make it easy.
Want an intro to someone in their network? Just send a forwardable intro email. Do not ask if they know anyone who might like X and leave it open ended.
Want their quick advice? Just ask a 1-2 sentence question over email or text. If necessary, you can move it to a call.
Want their feedback? Share a link and make a specific ask about the content. Do not share your life story and ask “what do they think”.
Busy people have limited time. They also want to do well with that time, so if you want something from a busy person, just make it easy.