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17 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Business Advisor

Posted August 16, 2017

YEC

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What one tip should entrepreneurs keep in mind when seeking out a business advisor?

 

1. Prioritize Experience Over Academic Credentials

Academic credentials are valuable shortcuts to judging someone’s capability. But when building a team to support and help them grow a company, experience trumps credentials every time. Someone who’s built or worked at a company before will have encountered many of the immediate issues you’re likely to encounter. Their experience can help you avoid issues in the first place. – Brennan WhiteCortex 

 

2. Leverage Your Company’s Equity

The best business advisors are extremely busy. Be prepared to offer them 0.1 to 0.5 percent of your company’s equity, depending on how much time they will be investing in your company and how big of a rockstar they are. Then have that equity vest over time to keep the business advisor incentivized to keep on adding value to you and your company. – Doug BendBend Law Group, PC 

 

3. Know Your Own Style

Are you a person who responds to suggestions or a person who responds to straight talk? Your advisor should advise in a way that works for your own personal style. If you need straight talk and your advisor gives gentle suggestions, you will not get as much out of the relationship. If you need suggestions and nudges and your advisor “beats you down,” you will not benefit. – Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design 

 

4. Aim for Someone With Questions, Not Answers

Rather than seeking someone who is going to fix your problems for you, look for someone who can ask deep, probing questions to help you reflect on your own situation. You want someone who can inspire you to solve your own problems by getting you to understand yourself better. Thinking you’ll find a sage with all the answers to your business’ issues is a fallacy. – Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark 

 

5. Find Someone Willing to Help

The most important aspect of an advisor is how much time they’re willing to devote to helping you. It doesn’t do any good to have a mentor who doesn’t answer emails or pick up the phone when you call. Before selecting an advisor, make sure they’re willing and able to give you the availability you need. – Arian RadmandTurnGram 

 

 

6. Get Referrals

Go with business advisors who have been referred to you by others, because you can use their experience to shape your own expectations and potential results. This also provides a way to validate that the advisor has a proven track record and is credible for helping you. – Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

 

7. Make Sure Your Priorities Align

A business advisor model should mirror a mentor. Your priorities should align or be complementary. For example, if you have children and your business advisor is single, they may not factor certain amounts of time that necessarily must go to your family. – Matthew CapalaSearch Decoder 

 

 

8. Take Their Advice With a Grain of Salt

The best business advisors realize that their own experience doesn’t necessarily translate directly to new businesses. You’ll come across advisors who have had success, but who lack the flexibility to analyze each business as a unique situation. Listen to what they have to say, but don’t follow their advice slavishly. Think for yourself. – Vik PatelFuture Hosting 

 

9. Find Someone Who Has Done What You Want to Do

Find a business advisor who already has successful experience doing what you want to do. Looking for an advisor who has closed a major round of funding? Make sure your coach has done so before hiring them. Looking for someone who has hired top-tier talent? Check that yours has done so beforehand. Experience is the best indicator. They might cost more, but you’ll get the results you want – faster. – Brian David CraneCaller Smart Inc. 

 

10. Look for a True Advisor, Not a Parent

Advisors and mentors can be unbelievably beneficial to your long-term growth and can assist you in overcoming challenges that you may run into on your entrepreneurial journey. However, be careful to seek out and adopt an advisor and not a parent. Be responsible for your own actions; seek guidance, but don’t rely on your advisor to hold your hand or make decisions for you. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

 

11. Find Someone Who Really Cares

There are hundreds if not thousands of potential advisors for every business endeavor you can imagine. But the key to success with an advisor is finding someone who really cares about you and what you are trying to create. If your advisor has a personal connection to you and your goals, they are much more likely to go above and beyond and deliver far more than the minimum. – Beth DoaneMain & Rose 

 

12. Join a Network for Entrepreneurs

I have joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) to find business advisors. It is a very good professional group of entrepreneurs from various domains who provide business advice on various topics. It is like building a small board for your company. You are not tied to one advisor, and multiple people will give you input. You can join EO or any other similar group to get the advice to grow your business. – Piyush JainSIMpalm 

 

13. Consider Their Reputation

What are people saying about them? Do they have good reviews and a good reputation? Do they have client testimonials and case studies to back up their claims? Also, what types of businesses have they helped in the past? Are any of them similar to yours? – Ismael WrixenFE International 

 

 

14. Find Strengths That Counter Your Weaknesses

You want to find someone who understands your world, has been there and brings strength to the table where you may have a weakness. Your advisor should make a positive, noticeable impact on your business. Look for a wealth of experience that will mesh well with your team and mission. – Abhilash PatelAbhilash.co 

 

 

15. Look Within Your Market

Just because you find a person with lots of business experience doesn’t mean they are the right advisor for your business. Finding an advisor in your specific space will serve not only with practical information but potentially connections that could help you grow your market share, too. Experts who already know your space can bring more value than others who are not familiar with your product. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors 

 

16. Match Your Advisor to the Stage of Your Company’s Growth

When looking for a business advisor, it is important to keep in mind your current company state and where you want it to be in the foreseeable future. Different advisors can be helpful at different stages of your business’ life. Those who are best for early growth companies might not work for established mid-market companies that want to go public. – Andrey KudievskiyDistillery 

 

17. Find Your ‘Fairy Godparent’

Every super successful entrepreneur has a “fairy godparent” advisor in the early days of their success. Mark Zuckerberg had Peter Theil and Sean Parker. Travis Kalenick had Bill Gurley. This advisor is the person you simultaneously use as a sounding board for all of your major ideas, and also expect to help you fundraise, build sales, and execute on your growth strategy. – Paul GrossingerGaingels 

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