Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers

Thursday, 25 August 2011 14:59

Advisor whiplash

Ask enough people for advice on your start-up and you'll inevitably get conflicting opinions. Here's a guide for how to take it all in.

Have you ever wondered why “experts” have neat little vignettes that directly contradict each other? “Always listen to your customers and let them guide you” versus “You need a big bold vision”. “Raise as much money as you can” versus “Stay lean and focused and avoid dilution”. “Focus on sales” versus “Focus on your product”. And so on and so forth. 

There are a few things that you need to know: Firstly, summarising anything into a pithy quote destroys the nuance of what really happens in reality and secondly, there are many different ways to succeed and the person passionately putting forward their opinion more often than not relays their own experiences.

Some entrepreneurs have big bold personalities, while others are more methodical and relentless. The advice you take should match your personality. The age old advice for dating "just be yourself" is true too with start-ups. If you are yourself, you'll have the best chance of success and you should filter advice from mentors through that lens.

Also, take the advice in the context of the person giving it. They may be a successful entrepreneur themselves but if you have very little chemistry with them, then their advice is unlikely to work for you because their personality is so different. Be even more careful taking advice from those who are basing their opinion on not having done something before.

At Startmate, the start-ups we invest in are thrown into a whirlwind of meetings with mentors from a multitude of different experiences in a short amount of time. Understandably there is a certain whiplash as they connect with all the mentors, with some coming down on one side of the fence and some on the other.

Just know there are many different ways to succeed and the way that matches your personality and instincts is the one that holds the highest probability for you.

Niki Scevak is the founder of Homethinking, a real estate startup based in the US, and Startmate, a mentor-driven seed fund that invests in small startups at the earliest of stages. He is based in Sydney.

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