A little advice… on getting advice

December 19, 2009

I’m all for getting advice about your startup idea and approach – before, during, and after you launch. But not all advice is created equal. Before you seek advice from a person, be sure to think about what they know, and don’t know. Here are a few types of experts you may want to consider getting advice from:

Functional experts. People with expertise in roles like sales, marketing, team building, product development, technology, law, manufacturing, etc. The more relevant their expertise the better. For example, if you are launching a training business that will sell to large corporations, get sales advice from someone who has sold similar types of services to similar types of companies. Advice from someone with expertise on selling consumer products to retailers may not be on target, and could even steer you in the wrong direction.

Industry experts. People with expertise in particular fields, like mass market retail, food and beverage manufacturing, or consumer e-commerce. Once again, the more specific, the better. And watch out for people who can’t see beyond outdated industry standards. For example, someone in publishing who doesn’t see how e-books, self-publishing, and other innovations threaten to change the rules of the publishing game.

Startup experts. Running a startup with limited resources is obviously very different than being an executive at a large corporation. If you haven’t started a business before, be sure to get the perspective of someone who has been there, done that.