Advisers for the company: where to look and how to work with them
Perhaps one of the most acute problems that entrepreneurs face when starting their first business is not the lack of money. In most cases, an entrepreneur is a person who has an idea and an approximate plan for its implementation. Of course, you can and should read several books on how to start your own business. Excellent benefits: books and online courses by Blank , Rice, and Osterwalder . In them you can find everything you need to start. You can recharge your batteries from a host of motivational fiction . And what? There is an idea, there is theoretical knowledge obtained from books, and a great desire to do business.
After the first steps it becomes absolutely clear - one in the field is not a warrior. That is, an entrepreneur, no matter how smart and well-read he may be, is simply not able to cover all the competencies necessary to create a business. The books here help very conditionally: what to do 'in general' is understandable, but what is 'specific'? Need to look for a team. About who the team should consist of, you will find a thousand and one articles on the Internet. Suppose a team is assembled and even works together for a while. The first surprise will be that there are no less questions. Moreover, every day there are more and more questions.
In fact, even the best team still cannot know everything and everything. There will always be a new tool, or a situation in which it is not clear how to act. Of course you can google to enlightenment, but this method is effective only with small tasks for which there are boilerplate solutions. You can take in a team of specialists in all conceivable and inconceivable areas, but with this approach you can’t save enough salaries. Moreover, to solve the most complex and strategically important tasks, you need people with such competencies and experience that your newly born business is unlikely to be able to afford.
The solution to this dilemma is to receive advice and recommendations from a group of people who have successfully passed the stage of creating the business you are currently at (been there, done that). Need to look for advisers. Alternatively, you can go to startup parties and ask presenters questions that are of interest to you. You can listen to endless webinars and hangouts. It is almost free, but rather inefficient. Basically, you will receive fairly general and little useful information. The way out is to get a constant connection with such people, once to bring them up to date and then in any incomprehensible situation to ask questions. These people are mentors or advisers, and in our opinion advisers.
The easiest way to find such people at startup parties or through investors. For our Pics.io project, we gained access to advisers through the Global Technology Foundation ( GTF) I must say that initially the main goal of our participation in the GTF contest was by no means money: it was very tempting to get access to people from the top venture funds Runa Capital, Almaz Capital and TA Venture. I was pleasantly surprised that the entrepreneurs and founders Sergey Belousov, Alexander Galitsky, Dmitry Chikhachev and Victoria Tigipko directly participate in the GTF. Their experience, expertise and support can provide much more than good cash injections, especially if your strategy for entering the market involves using someone else's platform for growth. Now the guys from GTF and the founding foundations, thanks to their impressive network of contacts, make it easy for us to find advisers. So, I recommend trying to compete for the next grant and access to a network of contacts.
If GTF and startup parties do not work out, you can try to look for help at Clarity , which will connect you with the right people for the money. I myself did not use his services, so I can’t recommend it.
Of course, you should have an interesting or promising project in order to interest a good adviser. You must have a strategic plan of action, how true is a separate issue. You should have questions that a potential adviser will be able to answer on his own or with the help of his friends. And finally, you must show that you can continue to ask interesting questions and jointly construct interesting solutions.
The issue of paying for the work of an adviser, which at the beginning seems very important, actually occupies one of the last places. The best advisors will become your investors and will help grow your business. There are people who believe in 'pay it forward' and will advise you absolutely free. Some advisors agree to receive payment for your stock. As a rule, the question is about fairly small amounts of equity (up to 1%). As far as I know, these shares are always issued for several years.
Immediately I want to warn you against working with experts who will announce you their impressive hourly rate before they even know what you are doing. These people are not interested in your business, they are only interested in your wallet. In this same category of people, I include those who are trying to get you involved in another SCRUM training or building your own business from scratch to live a happy and full life. As a rule, these are people who read a couple of books and now sow their abstract understanding of theoretical reality. Take your time, you will still have time to enjoy communicating with this fraternity after when your company enters the top 100 of its industry.
Photo: Elliot Haney
Text: Eugene Shpika