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Guest Post by Alex Haslam
Love has been described as a verb, a drug, a gift, and a battlefield. And while it certainly can be all those things, there’s one more you should add to the list: a business. As odd as it may sound, running a startup and playing the dating game have more in common than you might think. Let’s take a look at a few ways that dating is like being an entrepreneur and how your business skills can help you grow your next relationship.
1. Being a great salesperson isn’t optional
Every successful entrepreneur knows the importance of the elevator pitch. The idea is simple: you’re on an elevator with someone, and they ask you what you do. You’ve got until that elevator ride ends to explain it in a way that catches their interest (and maybe their money).
People playing the dating game need an elevator pitch too. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, they’re inevitably going to ask how you’d describe yourself. Do you have a compelling answer? Does it make your date want to get to know you better? Or do you sound lost and confused? Think about how you want to present yourself, and then share who you are in a way that makes your date want to learn more.
2. Failure comes with the territory
Not every startup idea is going to be a lasting success, regardless of how much energy and effort you pour into it. Sometimes external factors come into play that just can’t be controlled. And some ideas just don’t make good business sense, no matter how exciting they seem in the moment. In fact, as many as 75 percent of venture-backed startups fail to pay back investors.
The same is true for relationships. They’re not all going to work out, even if they are amazing in the beginning. If a relationship (or business idea) doesn’t pan out, you’ve got to be able to pick yourself up, assess what went wrong, and move on.
3. Long-term thinking is critical
In business, success rarely comes overnight. In fact, most “overnight” successes involve many years of decidedly unglamorous late nights, long days, and hard work building the foundation. The same is true for relationships — you have to think long-term and make smart investments in your relationship if you want it to last and grow successfully. And you’ve got to be willing to work on the basics, like open communication, trust, and mutual respect.
4. Your customer (or partner) must be the focus
While it’s true the customer may not always be right, few would argue the importance of great customer service in building a successful business. The market is so saturated with competition these days that if customers don’t feel valued, they can easily find an alternative that will meet their needs. And without customers, your business isn’t going to last long.
Likewise, when you’re dating someone new, going out of your way to meet their needs should be standard practice. As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea — why would anyone stick around if they didn’t feel like a priority in your life? On the flip side, treat your customer and dates like royalty, and they’re much more likely to keep coming back for more.
5. Balancing your resources is tricky
Startup capital (or lack thereof) can be a major factor in the initial growth of a business. And just as important as getting a loan is deciding how to put it to best use. It’s not enough to just go with the flow and hope for the best — you need balance to ensure you maximize all areas of your business without leaving anything out in the cold.
The same is true in dating, but here, the currency may be time and not money. Balancing your social life of old friends with the exciting early stages of a new partnership can be tough, and while work is important, you need to make enough time for your new relationship as well. Sometimes, the best approach is clear. Other times, the only way to find out if you’re making the right decision is to trust your gut and communicate openly.
6. The only constant is change
In the startup world, adapting to a changing environment is critical. The landscape of competitors and investors can change very quickly, and so can the wants and needs of your customers. You’ve got to be able to adapt — and fast.
This ability to adapt isn’t much different for online dating. New trends for building profiles and getting them noticed pop up all the time, and the same is true for new dating sites. Being able to adjust your approach quickly to land that crucial first date is important, and so is being willing to try new platforms.
Whether you’re starting a business, starting a relationship, or trying to balance the two, there’s a lot of overlap in successful strategies and mindsets. While The Lean Startup may not make the best dating guide, there’s plenty to learn from each side of the fence.
Alex Haslam is a freelance writer who focuses on cybersecurity and the internet. In her free time, she loves photography and travel.