Today it seems like everybody has startup advice. Should you be listening to mine? Well that’s certainly up to you. In fact it’s always up to you who you decide to listen to and who you don’t. However there are a lot of people out there giving startup advice that may not be qualified to do so.
While nobody should just be classified into groups or stereotyped, here are some folks I am wary of. Also, I do have manners so I do at least listen to anyone who can break me of my ADD and actually captures my attention.
Small business and executive coaches with little or no references.
Small businesses are great. They impact the local economy the way startups would like to. They also permeate with an older, more traditional crowd than most startups can. A good friend of mine Pam Cooper, the founder of Boosterville, once told me that when going to small business folks, it’s easier to get money for a day care center or a dry cleaners than a a world changing startup.
Memphis-based self-proclaimed small business expert Tom Pease actually has some great advice for small business owners in his new book Small Business Survial 101. He’s made a lot of money with his copier machine business and tends to offer more traditional SMB advice. He doesn’t know a lick about scalable and high growth potential startups.
There are thousands just like him as well. Now if you’re one of those people who can take the good tidbits from different kinds of folks and form your own conclusions, you may be ok listening to “small business gurus.”
In my opinion, though, if you run into an “Executive Coach” that can’t rattle off a list of 5 millionaires they’re working with, he or she is probably just another out of work sales person.
Startup organizations with founders or directors who have never themselves started anything.
I don’t need you to have multi million dollar exits, but you do need to at least have started something. Even if you’ve failed a bunch of times, you get more credibility points than if you haven’t started anything. You need to be in my world for me to listen to your advice about my world.
There are a lot of folks out there who have come from finance and business backgrounds who know that starting up right now is a hot topic, and they want to be part of what’s cool and hip. That’s great and perhaps there is a place for you in the ecosystem as a “feeder,” but not giving advice.
A lot of people I’ve met who fit that description tend to be less risk averse and eager to throw in the towel. Often they can be too concerned with image to get down and grind.
This is all just my opinion, but most entrepreneurs and startup people will agree with me.
Who should you listen to? Valerie Coffman, a data scientist and entrepreneur, has come up with this flow chart from her website valeriecoffman.com