Published on October 19th, 2012 | by Hersh Tapadia1
Everyone’s an Expert
One of the most important lessons you learn, hopefully early on, when running a startup deals with focus. Focus is everything; you have limited staff, limited budget, limited runway, and limited life. You simply cannot meander around jumping from supposed opportunity to supposed opportunity.
Another thing you quickly learn is that everyone you meet and introduce your concept to has an idea on how to use it. It turns out that everyone’s life is a bit different and they have their own experiences to draw from and thus they are an expert on your business. With that level of expertise it quickly becomes apparent that everyone is an advisor and thus everyone is advising you on where to steer your business.
So it turns out that everyone isn’t actually an expert on your business; they are merely experts on themselves. And that expertise, usually being somewhat narrow, means that you must be selective in whom your advisors actually are lest you lose focus. The last thing you want to do is shift your business focus every time another expert delivers the brilliant direction in which to take your company.
So what do you do?
Well for one; don’t ignore what people are saying. (I’m not trying to be contrarian, I promise.) There are several ways to approach this, frankly, valuable “advice” you are receiving. So what can we harvest from all of this information:
- Your company is exciting.
People tend to help those they either like or are excited about. It usually takes both but at least one. That means you have produced and/or pitched something compelling and meaningful. Take note, it’s not that easy and if appropriate this person could be a soft sell or a potential brand ambassador.
- You’re in the right (wrong) space
On average, in what form does council come? There are really two meaningful options here: (1) It makes sense and I see why people would want it but have you thought of doing this in –blank – or, (2) that will only work if you take it to –blank–.
If it is the former then you are doing alright. You chose the direction you chose for various reasons. Maybe your team is better configured for a certain vertical, it’s easier to get into, it suits your passions, etc. It doesn’t have to have the biggest TAM just the best fit for your first cut. If it is the latter though, you may need to consider the rest of your data. Why are you proceeding how you are? Is that position still justified? Should you be considering a pivot? You could be way ahead of the curve but it’s worth a sanity check to see if you really are. Often, The customer often doesn’t know what they want until they see it.
- It’s time to cut the cord
How much time are you spending listening to advice that throws you off track? Perhaps the problem isn’t the so called advisors who just want to be helpful; it’s you, the one who is continually soliciting advice. This may come as a surprise if you don’t realize you are the solicitor but a lack of internal focus or a lack of confidence in your business could lead to some serious waffling.
You may want to turn a degree or two more insular, focus on getting off the ground and cull the herds down to your trusted few.
I’m sure there is a lot more you can learn from these types of conversations and I would love to hear your comments.