Giving and receiving advice for startups

Posted on January 17, 2013 by Emer O'Donnell


We work with startups all the time. On iGAP we meet 25+ new ones every year, each with their own set of challenges and issues to figure out. A friend of ours, let’s call him Jeff, has recently set up an internet business. One evening last week Jeff popped over for some advice and feedback on his beta site.

And therein lies the problem. I, like lots of people, try to keep my ‘advice’ to myself but if you ask people for feedback or advice what do you get? Feedback and advice obviously, lots of it. The more people you ask the more you get.

So back to my friend and his new venture. He knew I worked with internet startups so figured I’d have some views and maybe some advice. Hubby was also in the room so of course he had some thoughts to share too. Jeff also has a wide circle of friends many of whom own their own businesses – so of course they have lots of thoughts to share too.

Two things struck me over the course of that 2 hour living room conversation. Firstly, what was Jeff to do with all the ‘advice’ we, and every one else, had given him? Secondly, was he asking the right people for their views? Are any of us his target customers? Future backers?

It got me thinking, how on earth can anyone starting a business, like Jeff, begin to process all the ‘advice’ and ‘feedback’ they get. Our friend has got lots of really well meaning input, but way too much for him to process.

So if I had one final piece of ‘advice’ regarding giving and receiving advice for startups it would be this – be selective, very selective. Consider carefully who to ask for advice, and feel free to discard 90% of it too. Only by staying very focused is it possible to navigate the very choppy waters of the very early stage startup.

PS – Best of luck Jeff!

Posted in: Startups, Entrepreneur