Building a company from scratch is a difficult endeavor. From pinpointing your target market and refining the profit model to testing the technology and getting your branding right, the ‘To Do’s’ quickly grows into a seemingly endless list.
As you start gathering feedback, advice and suggestions pile up almost as quickly. Its hard to know which inputs to take into consideration and what to leave behind. Analysis paralysis is a very real and very dangerous phenomenon. You have to make decisions quickly, pivot on a regular basis, and make decisions that have lasting consequences on the life of your venture.
Enter your team of mentors and advisors. 🙂
Here are some ways to build your bench and make lifelong friends in the process.
Start from within. It may surprise you to discover some of your old colleagues, supervisors, or even professors. Bringing on people you already know or who you have worked with in the past is a great play. They already believe in you and want to see you succeed, so they tend to be more likely to give it to you straight.
Think big… There may be a thought leader in your industry or profession you have long admired or the head of an organization related to your business. Now is a great time to introduce yourself and start to get to know one another. If you successfully connect and all goes well, you can ask them to get more involved.
…But act small. Entrepreneurs see the world differently and more audaciously than most. Dreaming big is not our issue. But there’s a lot of road between the world we envision and having a product demanded by paying customers. Use your nimbleness and local mentors to help bridge that gap. Although these resources seem local and “small” in nature, they are probably representative of other customers who are where you want to go.
Live by the Golden Rule. Consider how you like to be treated when someone asks you for help. Set the guidelines and expectations up-front. Get to the point, and be brief and polite about it. Three questions to answer: “Here’s what I am doing, why I want you to be involved and what you can expect to gain from the relationship.” If you are going to offer compensation, provide those details and be prepared to field questions. Keep in mind that if they can’t or don’t have time to help you, they may likely know someone who can.
Overcommunicate. Once you have your team in place, keep them in the know about what is going on. That way, when you call on them for help you don’t have to waste time bringing them up to speed. Commit to a frequency you will send them updates and stick to it. This practice helps increase the flow of communication throughout the launch and growth process.
Honor their time. Recognize that people have busy schedules and their own projects. Before you get started, find out your advisors’ preferred method of communication. Some of the best advice comes in quick text message exchanges or brief phone calls. You want to bring on people who are quick to respond and readily available in a pinch.
The life of a startup founder is not always easy. Years of launching new things myself or being approached by others for help, has taught me humility. No man (or woman) is an island. You are only as good as those you surround yourself with.