The best thing an advisor can do to help an entrepreneur is to give her confidence

This post is cross-posted from

Over the last few months I have met with several startups looking for mentors and advisors. Many were either looking to startup or had just recently ventured on their own. I had a discussion with a few of them on what they were looking for. Most of these folks were first time entrepreneurs who had not been at a startup before.

My informal survey of a few people from that group indicated the following things they wanted from an advisor:

1. Help fund the company – 30%

2. Open doors to VC’s, angel investors or potential customers – 40%

3. Provide industry knowledge and expertise – 10%

4. Product direction / market knowledge / hiring – 20%

Most of these actually seem like “tasks” or “activities”. This seems to indicate that most potential entrepreneurs want an “consultant” or “connector” on board but they really cannot afford to hire someone full time – or they dont need a full time person.

In my capacity as advisor, I think the only thing that I focus on is to give the entrepreneur confidence:

1. Confidence that they can be a good entrepreneur.

2. Confidence that they can raise money even if they have not done it before.

3. Confidence that they can hire people much smarter than themselves.

4. Confidence to take on a significant project from a large customer and deliver.

5. Confidence that they are ready to launch on their own even if they are fresh out of college.

The advisor’s networks, money, connections and knowledge are incidental.

P.S: I am not actively taking any more advisory positions and in fact am resigning from a few I am on currently.

5 thoughts on “The best thing an advisor can do to help an entrepreneur is to give her confidence”

  1. So basically, (based on your survey) much (70%) of what these entrepreneurs want is money or money-related something, and very little (30%) in Gyan! On a lighter note, why hire an adviser when you have ‘Close-up’ for confidence

  2. Mukund, Great thoughts! I do not agree with few points though. You have listed funding as the first point – I think thats what the client wants but an advisor should ideally restraint from such initiatives. An advisor’s job is more like a coach to help the entrepreneur to overcome the difficulties faced and mostly the entrepreneur should find the skill from within.

    1. Rathi, most first time startup entrepreneurs want funding, which they believe will solve 90% of their problems. Few understand the coach / advisor / mentor role clearly and quite honestly I did not understand it when I started too many years ago.

  3. There is a great site called Effort Share (, that allows entrepreneurs to connect and share ideas, as well as get expert advice. Have a look, any tool that can help an entrepreneur is a good tool :)

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