Most first time entrepreneurs are going to find themselves in deep waters many times while running their startup. They are often not sure what problems to prioritise, because there are so many challenges, and so many opportunities ! It can be extremely confusing, and it’s easy to get lost. It’s not possible to master all the skills required, which is why founders need an experienced mentor whom they can reach out to, who can act as a sounding board, and will serve as a friend, philosopher and guide.
Along with a mentor, you will also need to have people you can informally reach out to for help, and these will include friends; family members; colleagues; investors; and other co-founders. You will find that you will need to ask for advice many times, and it’s important that you have a strategy to follow, in order to be able to get help from clever people.
Now, most investors are extremely busy, but having said that, they’re also happy to help founders , and they want to see them succeed. However, the reality is that time is their most precious resource, and they need to guard it jealously.
When you’re asking someone for help (for example, to get feedback on your business plan) , please don’t forget that you’re asking them for a favor, and you need to be respectful.
The trick is to get a warm introduction; and then to ask clever questions, so they can see that you are smart and have done your homework.
They will then be much more willing to assist. Busy people have limited bandwidth, and if you can show them that they will learn stuff by interacting with you, they are more likely to respond positively. One way is to craft a clever email which intrigues them, and if you can pique their curiosity, your response rate will be better. Your enthusiasm can be contagious – make the most of it !