7 Tactics to Get the Most Out of Your Startup’s Advisors | First Round Review

It happens all the time. A founder surrounds him or herself with a skilled group of advisors — maybe one or two from investors, a trusted mentor from their past, perhaps someone influential who can open doors. But as the company grows and pivots, it becomes clear this is not the best team to create long-term value. Can this situation be avoided by choosing advisors more wisely? Can it be turned around once things aren’t great? As a partner at First Round, Phin Barnes has advised more than 20 startups and has seen a common problem emerge: Advisors (especially investors) default to removing roadblocks for the companies they support — everything from finding them new hires to good lawyers — but spend very little time offering strategic, tactical advice that could make an even bigger difference. Recommended Article dei Take on Your Competition with These Lessons from Google Maps In this exclusive interview, Barnes contends that it doesn’t have to be this way. Founders can ensure that they don’t miss the opportunity presented by their advisors — they can deepen these relationships, use them to maximize their knowledge in certain areas, and drive more productivity. The following seven tactics can help. #1 Really Pick the Right Advisors for You It’s possible to plot most advisors along a spectrum. On one end, you have the person with incredible domain expertise — whether it be in enterprise sales or internationalization, etc. — but they have a really hard time unpacking what they know. On the other end, you have the advisor with less hands-on experience but who is very skilled at the art of advising. They know how to filter and problem solve and prioritize. Depending on your business, you’ll want to draft advisors that are a blend of both poles, but might land closer to one than the other. “A lot of people’s first instinct is to find an advisor who is really good at something very specific. Their expertise looks great on paper,” Barnes says. “But it’s so important to balance that against how you relate to the person, and their personal style in an advisory role.” Styles range dramatically from confrontational to encouraging to analytical. Some advisors dive right into what you’re doing and immediately tear it apart in nine different ways. Founders need to decide which style they’ll relate to best before they agree to work with anyone. “I would recommend looking for an advisor just like you’d look for a co-founder — someone who compensates for a weakness you know you have,” says Barnes. “The best advisor for you will complement your strengths and cover for your weaknesses. That’s the only way they’re going to be able to see around the corner for you and encourage you to think in different ways.”

Source: 7 Tactics to Get the Most Out of Your Startup’s Advisors | First Round Review


About Stephen G. Barr, Group Publisher

Author, Syndicated Columnist, Editor In-Chief and Group Publisher at SGB Media Group, a social media marketing firm specializing in digital media content production, publishing, affiliate marketing, public relations and advertising. Over 25 years experience in retailing, advertising, website & online forum development, niche social networking, affiliate marketing, search optimization, branding and identity, site location, non-profit fund raising. Event planning, promotion, production and MC/Host at public events. Author, Editor & Publisher of 35 syndicated, digital publications utilizing multiple digital distribution channels in conjunction with launching and administrating national advertising campaigns for major Fortune 500 advertisers in partnership with Google, Ning, Facebook, Myspace, Yahoo, DoubleClick, LinkShare, PepperJam and other industry leading third party affiliate networks. Product development team member from conception to launch on many websites, tangible goods and organizational structure for start ups. Specialties: Public relations, retailing, advertising, website & online forum development, niche social networking, blogging, email campaigns, affiliate/performance marketing, search optimization, branding and identity, site location, event production & promotion, non-profit fund raising and tasteful, responsible adult content publishing. An internationally recognized and read social media columnist & pundit on The Examiner, Associate Content, Vator.tv, X-Biz.net and Technorati and his own affiliated sites.
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