Now that I have been in business for approximately 30 (minutes) I would consider it an honor to bestow much wisdoms upon your brains and tell you some of what I've learned.
Hopefully you'll be able to take what I know and apply it to your self and your business selves, and those business elves can go and make you many more monies. This is a time-honored tradition that the corporate world loves to reserve for events like "Rotary" "Executives Association" "Entrepreneurial Alliance" and the "Men's Restroom."
The Business Lunch.
The reason this specific (and delightful couple) of terms is capitalized in such a way is because Business Lunches are the absolute pinnacle of achievement; the top triangle of the pyramid; the uppermost animal carving on the totem pole... you get the point.
Every entrepreneur's first goal: to learn how to spell "entrepreneur." Note: with the advent of personal computers and consequently, spell check, this goal has become almost obsolete. Almost.
The next goal an entrepreneur has is to set up a business lunch. With someone. Anyone. The words "I'm sorry, I have a business lunch, can I meet with you on a different day?" mean that said person is at least somewhat successful. If they actually have a business lunch. Some slimy folk (usually the competitors) have been known to make up lunch events just to seem important. This usually signifies a "C" or lower in their local Community College "Business Ethics" class.
Business Lunches usually take place when there are either a.) two parties and/or b.) they have something to talk about.
Most of us have seen someone on a Business Lunch with their self before, and while this is strange, it's not entirely dis-honest and if put in essay form would still earn a deserved "A" at a Business Ethics class, because as long as there is a phone-piece present, it can still count as a Business Lunch. *See: Tax-write off.
"I'd like to take them to lunch" or "Let me take you to lunch" are two power-house phrases I would suggest you use in the workplace to get these sorts of things off and rolling. Once seated with food present, even if one party deals in socks and the other multi-grain cereal or a specific non-gravity based solar shield for a space ship, if they're strong enough entrepreneurs, the Business Lunch will not only go better than crappy, but they may meet once or twice more in a year together, just on the basis of mere creative stimulus.
Important to note. (From now on, wherever you see these three words in bold you'll know that what follows is important to note.)
When someone who has a potential future with either a.) you and/or b.) your company, and the first words out of their mouth is "I'm a family man" you know one of two things. a.) they are not a family man, and/or b.) they probably don't even really like their family.
Real family men will sit down with you and say nothing. Why? Because real family men don't have to justify to you that they're family men. They don't care if you know or not. You should be able to tell that just by the fact that they a.) look tired and haggard with bags under their eyes, and/or b.) order anything with and/or without caffeine. If they order something with caffeine you know they've had five entirely sleepless nights in a row with at least four infants. If they order something without caffeine you know it's because they don't let their kids have caffeine.
What does this have to do with the Business Lunch you ask?
Example: A man sits down after saying "I'm a family man" asks the waitress "is this really hot? What's really hot on the menu?" Orders a beer to start, then tells you three personal stories in a row that bore you to death.
What should this tell you?
The bid he is going to ask you to make for his eleven thousand tract homes will net you approximately seven dollars and take the next six years of your life away entirely.
Because he'll think that's what it takes for you to really get the work and after all, he deserves it. And he'd like to talk about it every day on the phone with you, conferencing you in to his twelve board members who live in Northern California. He'll have you believe that there is literally no one else doing business on the planet except him, and he is the big breakthrough you've been working your entire life to reach.
What should you do based solely off this hunch and what he ordered?
Order a beer as well to make him comfortable, but only drink half because it's 11:30am and your stomach is churning at the thought. Then let him know the bid you gave him is exactly what you can do the work for because you are the best option for that job the local market has to offer and watch him squirm. As he yells into his cajun chicken that came with twelve chili peppers next to the name on the menu, smile and nod like you understand him, but reiterate your thoughts, all the while thinking of other business things that will net you more money. This can be anything that will net you a value of more than seven dollars.
Should it matter what you eat at a Business Lunch? Not at all. The food is secondary. Why is the food there, you ask? Well a.) because OBVIOUSLY if it was called the "Business" instead of "Business Lunch"... well, that wouldn't make very much sense now, would it? and/or b.) just in case the person becomes an inanimate object or the whole world blows up and there's just the two of you at the table, at least there's still the food to talk about.
The food should be secondary, the drinks should be secondary (with the obvious exception if everyone is getting together for "Drinks" in which case it may matter .07% what you order) and the initial conversation should be secondary. That's the point. Everything about a Business Lunch should be secondary, just as it's written.
"Business" then "Lunch."
The First Rule.
The first rule is to never call yourself a "Start-Up."
The only people who call their companies "Start-Ups" are young hipster recent college-grads who want to short-cut everyone and everything to make lots of money with no work. Who likes anyone who cuts in line? And correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the word "Start-Up" in any combination (Start-up, startup, start-Up) look like a great branding for toddler diapers?
Anyone who calls their company a "Start-Up" has just presented you with a kaleidoscope vision of their future. No matter how you turn it, things will always look amazing and pretty and bright, but it'll drop away into nothing when it reaches six inches from your face.
"I've helped launch a bunch of Start-Ups" says every young entrepreneur.
"Oh yeah, well how many have you seen through into successful companies with things like a "payroll" and "happy investors" or even "a franchise"?" says every old guy.
Go forth now, un-Start-Up-ify thyself, and order many hot things on the menu!