One Piece of Advice About Startup Advice

Does anything hold you back from asking for advice?

One aspect of being a startup founder involves asking others for advice. You can go solo, but why? Why would you not wish to hear how others have managed a current or future issue that will impact your idea/product/company? I believe this is another point-of-view that separates the good from the great.

Even Warren Buffet once remarked at his annual talk that, “You can really learn a lot just by asking–that sounds like a Yogi Berra quote or something–but it is literally true.” And if it is good enough for the Oracle of Omaha it should be good enough for you.

So what is holding you back?

Ego? Guess what, we are all faking it and figuring out how to be better every day.  Ever hear of imposter syndrome? It is a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” and everyone has a version of it; even the most powerful of business mavens. If you think you have every answer and go into every situation with the idea that you have to show that you have every answer, then you are already behind everyone who is not exhibiting that limiting ego.

Fear holding you back? This feels like the opposite of ego. Some founders don’t want to ask questions, as they fear the answer or feedback from others. What if my idea is stupid? Will they think I am an idiot? Or my favorite fear; I like my idea and do not want to find out that it may not work. The gist here is that not knowing anything is better than finding out it is a bad idea. My response, then why are you pursuing this idea if you don’t really want to know if it will take?

Business building is a process of discovery to reveal and validate the answers to your thesis. To discover we need to ask questions. Lots of questions. To lots of people. From all different roles and experiences.

The one thing that every expert believes about advice  . . . ask for it and often.

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. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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