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Why Startup Advisors are Important and How to Find Them?

Published On
April 17, 2023
Read Time
Shanti Mohan

The startup journey is backbreaking as new challenges continue to come your way and test your mettle as an entrepreneur. During the process, you often recognise areas of improvement and specific pain points. 

In such cases, it is better to consult someone more experienced in your domain and capable of overcoming the startup’s performative drawbacks by enhancing business performance. Startup advisors can be the perfect problem-solvers you need. With their acumen and guidance, they can steer your venture in the right direction at the right time.

Take the example of Margot Schmorak, the co-founder and CEO of Hostfully. During tough times, she hired several advisors who helped her startup to close the performance gaps and meet desired business results. 

In this blog, you will find all you need to know about startup advisors and how to find the right one.

Role and Benefits of Startup Advisors: an Overview

A startup advisor is a professional with expertise in one or more business domains. You can have a single advisor or advisory board depending on your startup goals and business needs. 

Startup advisors can help you in several other ways:

  • Be a sounding board for your ideas
  • Assist you in product design and MVP creation
  • Find the right and talented employees
  • Give networking access to investors, customers and industry partners
  • Formulate business strategies
  • Be a finance or marketing brain
  • Bring technology and automation know-how
  • Set up the organisation’s structure and work culture
  • Identify business opportunities for partnerships and collaborations

Are Startup Advisors and Mentors the Same? 

Do note that a startup advisor is different from a mentor. Here is how.

A startup advisor is a professional who works with startups in a formal capacity. They receive compensation through advisory equity or a fee, and their core focus is on driving startup growth.

On the contrary, a startup mentor provides guidance and support to an entrepreneur in an informal capacity. They serve unpaid, focusing on coaching and nurturing the entrepreneur.

Finding the Right Startup Advisors

The following tips will enable you to make the right choice in hiring advisors for your startups:

Determine the business requirement

List the current challenges or functional areas you want to onboard a startup advisor. Is it for marketing or fundraising? Is it to ramp up technology? Are you having difficulty reaching new geographical markets? Do you need an advisor for the short term or long term? The clarity of the goal of hiring an advisor is vital.

Check for the advisory traits

Advisors should have deep industry knowledge, a passion for working with startups and strong networking connections. They should complement your skill set, preferably within your business vertical. They should understand your startup vision. 

Most importantly, they should be able to play devil’s advocate, correct your mistakes and help you resolve the most pressing issues. 

Align with your terms and conditions

Make sure to screen startup advisors carefully. You may want to hire a high-profile advisor but need to shell out a hefty fee or sacrifice a big chunk of equity stake. So, advisors’ payout should fit into your budget. 

Moreover, advisors should be easily accessible whenever you need their advice. If they have their hands full somewhere else, they will lack the commitment to your startup.

Ascertain the type of advisor

A startup advisor could be a serial entrepreneur, investor, corporate marketing leader, former employee or any industry authority. These days, startups are also seeking out industry veterans as advisors. A report highlights that the demand for industry veterans among startups has increased 3-4 times since pre-Covid levels. 

Whoever you want to hire, look into their track record, strengths and weaknesses to determine the right fit for your startup.

Search on different platforms

When you want to find startup advisors, you should actively look for them in different places and spread the word about the same. Some of the ways to connect with potential advisors are:

  • Ask existing investors, industry thought leaders, business partners or fellow entrepreneurs
  • Attend startup networking events
  • Send cold emails to advisors 
  • Join professional associations and organisations
  • Post your requirement on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online communities
  • Get in touch with incubators and accelerators

Final Thoughts

Startup advisors are a valuable acquisition for your venture. They can tackle distinct challenges and give professional guidance to run a startup like a mainstream business. You can find these advisors on various online and offline platforms. However, you need to consider various parameters to engage the right advisor to derive value from them.

Scalix can connect you with the best advisors to help you thrive in the competitive startup ecosystem. Join our Early Founder Programme to get access to these advisors.

Get in touch with us to know more.