Avoiding entrepreneur whiplash: How to learn from business advisors, even when they don’t agree.
If your company is new, and you weren’t born with a trust fund, you probably are asking for business advice from everyone who is smart and willing to talk. This isn’t inherently bad. But it isn’t necessarily useful either.
Too many of my clients career from strategy to strategy, based on a current crisis and a random encounter with an investor.
By all means, if you have the energy, talk to everyone. But always stay accountable to your vision.
In other words, you will need a cunning plan: to check every piece of advice with the main pillars on which you’ve built your business. Does the suggestion make sense with your market segments, your product road map, channels to market, revenue streams and management goals? Make sure you stay aligned with your Strategy-On-A-Page, and make changes only where it makes sense in the big picture.
Remember that you’re the expert on your business. If you’ve done the right planning, you will have enough touch points to assess any particular piece of advice. You might feel desperate, but you’re not. If there’s something you don’t know just go learn it. And use the solid planning you’ve done as the route of inquiry.
Second, everyone who has business experience thinks he or she is an expert in something. Again, take all suggestions under advisement. But remember it’s a fallacy that anyone who has succeeded in business once can do it again. Any “expert” or “mentor” who tells you about experience and success in your field shouldn’t intimidate you.
By the way, becoming a mentor requires no qualifications. They are used by so many programmes because most aren’t paid. So consider their motives and chops for being there. Who works for free, and why?
That doesn’t mean the mentor is no good — he or she might have something of value to share. Or not. Only you can decide whether it fits into the rest of your programme.
Third, no one consistently makes good decisions on the fly — this means you. It’s more than a full-time job designing products from scratch, designing new paths to growth, chasing revenue sources and taking care of your people. Many of you don’t sleep much, you might not remember if you’ve eaten, and often partners aren’t patient and supportive. Only by having solid plans in place, for all aspects of your business, can you hope to succeed. The plans will change, but they should only change because the big picture demands it.
So take some time to gather all the advice you’ve been offered with the rest of your team, and along with any other data, look at it in relation to the hard planning you’ve done, minimise any short-term crises in your decision-making (they will pass), and go from there.
And here’s a plug: if you want to ensure you’ve got bullet-proof plans for all aspects of your business, Activate Capital will be opening up applications for our next cohort in early July. Watch this space.
In the meantime, here are the founders of Tomo talking about what it’s like to work with us.