How to find a great advisor for your startup

If your objective is to grow international with your startup, you need to find the right person to advise and mentor you. If you look for someone to actually help you steer your venture, rather than just drop words of wisdom, try using the following pointers in selecting the right people. 

Research says that startups that work with professional support, raise 7 times more money and 3.5 times better user growth, compared to those businesses that do not seek out for experts to assist their process. The advisors, who you are looking for, are not coaches, investors, lawyers or accountants, rather people who already have experience in building companies like yours. A startup advisor can give you a hand on how to structure your company, raise funding or replicate your business solutions for profitable growth. This support can give you an invaluable benefit on the market towards your competitors.


Involve not only your advisor but your team as well (

1. The right hire has an actual interest in your company

Your future advisor should be as excited about your project as you are. First and foremost, your advisor must believe in your business idea, although the aide must be honest in pointing out the shortcomings of your product. You should see almost the same light in their eyes as to the one you have when you talk about your idea. 

An advisor should be willing to help prior to discussing any terms or equity. If he or she is genuinely interested, they will be thinking about your company, maintaining contact and sending information.

While you should negotiate a share in your company that the advisor will receive for the work done, you should see interest in receiving a fair amount, not a greedy desire to get as much out of you as possible. Keep in mind, that it is always a good sign when the expert says “we” during the discussions of your product’s future. 

2. Discussing working conditions

It is important not to confuse the concept of mentorship, consulting and advising. A mentor is a person who likes what you do and is willing to call you every few months to share contacts. This does not mean regular feedback and continuous involvement. A consultant is someone who has the specific expertise you need at a particular time. You pay him or her an hourly rate to do a certain type of job. An advisor is a full-on member of your movement, willing to dedicate time to your team on a regular basis. It’s a long-term relationship built with consistent engagement. What's more, this kind of aide usually has a stake in a company and ends up becoming your partner. 

The Founder Institute has developed The FAST agreement (Founder Advisor Standard Template), which has already been used by tens of thousands of entrepreneurs to fix the terms and price when a company hires their guy or gal. 


Keep your advisor updated! (

3. Acquiescing to their advising

Pay attention to sending out regular amendments to keep your advisor updated. It is always important to describe what you did and how you did it, this way they will be able to analyze your work and provide advice. 

You can receive the maximum amount of help when you are as open as possible. Do not focus on your achievements, rather describe all the aspects that you do not understand since you need advice in an understandable way. The key is to ask as many questions as possible while letting advisors ask you the same amount of queries.

4. Be aware of the skills and perspectives you don’t have

Share your product, or even its prototype, with your potential advisor. Ask the candidate to use it and share an expert opinion. Pay attention to those who, instead of stroking your ego, point out fragility in your plan. Talk to those who will be tough, not ingratiating. Be sure to call on those with whom you fundamentally disagree, they are the ones you will most need. 

The best indicator is when a potential hire offers to make an intro without you asking and prior to formalizing your relationship. It will serve as a great sign that he or she genuinely cares about what you're doing and is willing to put in the effort, regardless of compensation.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions (

5. Honesty at first

The first meeting has to be a long one. Ask questions, not only about your business but about anything else that is important to you. There is a list of questions you can offer perspectives.  Remember, you are choosing not only a professional but also a personality. That's why it’s very important to have a good fit with your possible aide.

Last but not least, remember that even if you pick a good one, he or she is only with you to give you advice. The decisions are always made solely by you. An A-List aide will never be offended if you don’t follow his or her advice. The right hire understands who is in charge. Help them help you. Plan the agenda of your meetings in advance and be as transparent as possible. 



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