We get to work with a number or really great entrepreneurs with interesting ideas from around our region. For many of them this is the first time building a business or a brand and because time and money are scarce in these early stages, they often wonder what things they can do to get the most return on their personal investments of time and treasure.

Whether you’re looking for feedback, courting investors or customers, in many cases the things that will open door and bring opportunity don’t have anything to do with your product or service at all. Here are 5 REALLY simple but underrated things you can do to get off on the first foot as you build your startup.

1 – Show Up

It sounds simple but when it comes to booking meetings or working with your first potential customers, you need to be prepared and be on time. Canceling at the last minute or being late shows those around you that you don’t respect their time, and it can make your contacts question the organization and leadership of your startup.

2 – The Art of the Follow Up

Did you just come out of a great meeting? Meet an important contact? Get great advice from a mentor? Whether you met in person or strictly digitally, make sure you send a thank-you email with any next steps, and connect with them on LinkedIN to keep yourself on their radar.

3 – Stay Humble, Hustle Hard

Recognize that you don’t know everything and that everyone you meet, even detractors has some useful knowledge or perspective you can use while building your company. No one likes a know-it-all. Hustle hard, outwork your competitors and your actions will speak for themselves.

4 – ABC (Always Be Content-ing)

Get a website, a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter account or an Instagram account. Pick only the tools that you can manage and that are right for you, and show your work. By building your brand and business in public you’ll make connections, potentially get your first customers, show your hustle, and develop your brand. Need examples who are doing a great job locally? Check out the Utica Comets and The Topping Tree.

5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Part of starting a successful venture is that you’re absolutely going to fail in some way, but the trick (and you’ve heard this a million times before) is to fail fast and course-correct. One of the best ways to minimize mistakes is to learn from what others have done. Other entrepreneurs who have succeeded (and failed) and even competitors are great resources for advice, mentorship, and connections. You should not be afraid to ask for their assistance or advice as long as you have a clear purpose and fit for that ask. Work your LinkedIN network and community contacts to meet the people who can help you succeed, but make sure you do your homework. Need to send a cold-call intro via email? Here’s some good advice from Tim Ferriss.

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