How To Get Advice For Your Startup

generic-1960s-pic-of-a-father-and-son-sceneThere was a conversation with Appsumo founder Noah Kagan I had very early on when getting started with Buffer. Noah mentioned something along the lines of this:

”I love giving advice and helping out others, I love it even more, if they actually use my advice and then show me results.”

Over the past few months, as my email inbox would increase gradually each month with requests for advice and tips, I found myself in a very similar position.

Straight from Noah’s quote, the solution for getting advice from anyone is stunningly simple:

If you are able to show up front, that you have learnt something from the person you seek advice from, that you have applied some of their knowledge and come up with some great results, I have no doubt they will want to help you.

As humans, I believe we always want to help others – but only if we feel we can help them. By doing the above and showing someone that they already have helped you, you are able to prove that point immediately.

Be smart about who you ask for advice

The good thing with advice for startups is that the scene is amazing. There exists a very strong pay it forward culture and I found that lots of people are very interested in helping you succeed.

A mistake I have made myself a lot, and see others do, is to ask the wrong people for advice. Startup founder doesn’t equal startup founder.

If you look at your product, be very focused and only seek advice from those, that have done something similar. They will be able to help you much better, and also be a lot more excited, because they can relate to what you are doing.

To give you an example, the people we specifically found to have amazing insights for Buffer were Hiten Shah, Noah Kagan, Dharmesh Shah and Guy Kawasaki.

Hiten, Noah and Dharmesh all have an incredible focus and understanding of the space we were in. We had chosen content marketing as the main strategy to grow the userbase for Buffer. And these three people are without doubt some of the top heads in the field regarding this.

Seeking advice from Guy Kawasaki was equally a very focused choice. His understanding of Social Media is unchallenged I believe, so getting his thoughts on a Social Media product was a no brainer.

How to reach out to someone for advice

There was a post I wrote, that thankfully got a lot of attention recently. It talked about how exactly to go about writing an email that will get you a response.

Sending an email with one short specific question is the other crucial ingredient to help you get advice for your startup I’ve found.

“If you are forced to really think about the one specific question you want to have an answer to, you naturally think about your problem in a much more focused way.”

It will help you to sharpen your focus and internalize, what it really is that you need help with.

“The best advice I ever got is don’t take anyone’s advice”

The above quote is something that Eric Kim, Founder of Twylah and Buffer investor would mention to us after each meeting we had with him.

Although he was focused on giving us his best ideas, he would end with this statement each time. At first, it would let me a bit startled, but he elaborated what he meant with it.

As an entrepreneur, you really have to make your own decisions all the time. You will get a ton of input from others along the way. And that’s awesome. But you can’t take it on board.

Instead, listen, and let it sink in. Then take fractions of those thoughts, put them together as something entirely different and make it your own.

At the same time, you can show to whoever it was that inspired you, what you have done with his input. It won’t be exactly what they have said or suggested, but still show some form of realization of their thoughts. And hence allow you to show your appreciation.

How do you go about seeking advice from others? Is it important to you at all? Let me know below

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