25 Quick Lessons for Start-ups Seeking Advisors
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1. Advisors are more useful when adding fuel to an already burning fire. In other words, they can help build a small, fairly well-run business into a large, well-run business much better than they can fix a broken business model.
2. Know exactly what she wants out of the Advisor. Be clear on what you expect from the Advisor; it is not always investment money that you need from them, although there is often a strong correlation between your Advisors and your Investors.
3. Be an expert on your business area, market, competition, differentiators, etc.
4. Know who your top five Venture Capitalists are and why you're choosing them; if you don't know this level of detail by the time you approach and Advisor, the panelists agreed that you were not sufficiently motivated to be successful.6. Perfect your pitch. Have a tight and direct and clear pitch, and know how to deliver it flawlessly.
5. Google your potential Advisor to find out more about their interests and specialties, if any; some focus on retail or on healthcare, for example. However, one panelist mentioned that he was branching out into other industries, and he thought just about any Advisor would like to hear a good idea regardless of focus.
7. Be aggressive when seeking the chosen Advisor
8. Don't be aggressive when seeking the chosen Advisor.
9. Advisors are keen to protect their brand, so they must be careful when selecting businesses.
10. Use simple and straightforward contracts; many Advisors will already have "standard" paperwork they have used in the past, but you should always have a competent attorney review any contracts before signing.
11. Entrepreneurship is becoming a vocation.
12. Invest your time and do your research to improve your chances of being in the right place at the right time.
13. Have a great product!
14. Don't expect to close on the first pitch.
15. Ideas are a dime a dozen; you'd better bring more than just an Idea.
16. The soft-sell approach can be highly effective: "Here's my business card. We're growing at 40% a quarter; check it out when you can."
17. Bring statistics and metrics, real crunchy data.
18. Know that your start-up won't be the top priority of the Advisor.
19. Don't underestimate the value of the Tweet. One panelist had a group of Advisors for his company with a total of 27 million Twitter followers.
20. Beware Advisors with Hollow Followers. Advisors who have huge numbers of followers who do nothing beyond click the Follow button are close to worthless. Seek Advisors whose followers tend to act in response to an Advisor's tweets.
21. Advisors generally won't join competing start-ups.
22. Have a good personality (yes, you read that right).
23. Having an Advisor is completely optional.
24. Your Advisors do no need to match your customer profile or demographic.
25. Advisors who Endorse your product are not nearly as effective as those who Use it.