Call them mentors. Call them advisors. Call them business friends. These are the people you reach out to when you are in a quandary regarding an issue that you are struggling with. This group can be a very organized advisor group (meet regularly as a group) or they can be an ad hoc resource called upon in the moment. Every one of us has one of these quandaries that you just cant quite seem to get a good handle on.
What kind of role can a good advisor play?
- Identify your business “blind spots” and help you manage them
- Make critical introductions to investors, future employees & customers
- Offer actionable advice on hiring/firing
- Provide insights (from experience) on “around the corner” issues.
The best founders have created this advisor group and there a ton of great resources to draw up on for identifying, developing and utilizing a set of advisors.
A few of the key points to understand about a good advisor:
- They should be compensated (small amount of equity)
- You need to set and continually manage your mutual expectations
- They have the desire and ability to roll up their sleeves when needed
- You respect their time – all of the time.
All of this makes sense and may even be obvious, and there are many resources to figure out how to go about it. Just do a simple search.
But there is one subtle almost nuanced element that can make or break any one of the above items and that is transparency. I am not referring to the open exchange of your financials. Nor am I talking about your shared vision inside and outside the company. I am referring to the stuff you might share on a psychiatrist couch. You know, that stuff.
A great advisor cannot help you without you sharing the most fundamental core of what you are struggling with and why.
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Posted by Chris Heivly
Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. Currently, I am one of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory making 10-14 seed investments per year, founder and MC of the Big Top Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities.