Pages of books, articles and blog posts encourage you to create a set of advisors – just don’t screw it up.

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?

How about:

  • 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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