Define Your Success

Every person’s definition of success is different. According to Dictionary.com success is defined as “the favorable outcome of something attempted.” Take a moment to consider Dictionary.com’s definition one more time. One thing that becomes quite clear is that in order to have a chance at being successful, you must actually attempt to do something.

Many people seem to go through life avoiding any and all chances of failure, but this also means that they are avoiding any and all chances of success. In order to succeed, you must try. And, in order to try, you must figure out exactly what you are trying for. This is why leaders are so big on goals. You must set a goal to attain it; in the same way, you must set your expectations in order to realize success once you’ve made it.

Take a second to consider what is most important to you. Think about what success might look like for you. (I’m thinking more big picture, but you can do this exercise for daily, weekly or monthly successes as well.) Everyone is different so don’t feel that your success needs to involve money, status or title. It may, but chances are there are some personal goals that will define your success as well, such as: retiring by the age of 55, creating a loving home for my family, and taking time to do the things that make me happy. Whatever it is, make sure it is clearly defined. Write it down. If there are multiple parts to what you would consider success, then create a list. Then, put this list somewhere where you can look at it often: maybe by your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator. This list will offer you a constant reminder of the big picture.

A large part of being able to be successful is defining for yourself what your success will look like. Toby Keith summed up my point well, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.”

Ten Rules For Starting a Business

Today’s post was written by thinkspace member, Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing.

I’ll never forget the very first day of Heinz Marketing. It was just me, a laptop and a (pending) business license. I had a meeting with a new client in downtown Seattle in the morning, and a prospect in the afternoon. My mid-day office? The public library.

It was exciting. And terrifying. Still is. If you’ve started a business, you know what I mean.

I think sometimes about what I would have told myself then, based on what I know now. Which instincts I’d reinforce as sound, which lessons I wish I’d have learned earlier.

So to remind myself and possibly to help others, here are my 10 recommendations when starting a business.

1. Build & print stuff later
My first business cards were freebies from VistaPrint.com. My first Web site was a $9.99/month GoDaddy.com “Website Tonight” template. I had those for at least eight months, until I had the revenue to create a brand and build more professional assets. My first clients, the people that knew me, didn’t care about my business cards or Web site. They cared most about what I could do for them.

I still don’t have a brochure. Or letterhead. Or anything else that businesses “need” (so they say), but that I’ve somehow managed to do without. I know other folks who have started businesses and spend thousands up-front on materials that mostly sit in their boxes gathering dust. Save your money, or better yet, spend it on things that build pipeline and preference among prospective customers.

2. Start building your network as early as possible
Three years before I started the business, I begin more actively networking. Every day. I started my monthly newsletter. Began working on my first book. That network (which continues to grow through daily activity) fueled my first two years worth of clients. I hate to think about where I’d be without that network when I started.

This might not help those who have already started a business, but for anyone anywhere with even the twinkling that you may someday want to do it, start building a network. Meet people. Follow up. Stay in touch. Automate as much of that as you can via newsletters, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever you’re comfortable with and your network is already using. Don’t overthink the tactics, just get started and do it every day.

3. Obsess about delivering value daily
No matter what you’re selling, this is the most important thing you’ll do. It’s about showing up. Treating their business as your own. Constantly thinking about their objectives and how to achieve them (including and beyond the scope of the product or service you’re directly offering).

Value isn’t defined by you, it’s defined by the customer. Or the prospect who might still make a referral. Or the past customer who has a new project for you. The best entrepreneurs I know obsess about value and it permeates their organization.

4. Hire only when it hurts
You will always have more to do than what’s currently on your plate. You will always feel stretched by the current book of business you have. You will always feel like another one or three people is more than justified.

But especially for a new business, hiring is expensive. It adds significantly to your costs, and there’s a lot more soft costs in managing people than you might expect. No question, most businesses can’t grow and scale without employees. But think thrice before pulling the trigger, and make sure you really need it.

5. Surprise people
This is related to delivering value, but goes well beyond that. This is also the small stuff. Sometimes superficial stuff. Send a client an article you found related to their business. Don’t just email it, but clip it out and send it with a hand-written note.

Send a thank you note, for something they did or simply for being a customer. Remember details. Follow up. Ship it overnight instead of ground. Make referrals. Few of these things take a lot of time, and together they might take 15-20 minutes out of your day. But they add up in a material way.

6. Look bigger than you are (and avoid things that make you look amateur)
I may have printed my first business cards with VistaPrint.com, but they looked pretty good. They were clean, included a mailing address, and featured business email that tied to my URL. If you’re using a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email address for your business, buyers will assume you’re small and amateur.

People like working with companies that are small, but they don’t like working with amateur. As a new business, you immediately need to prove to the world that you’re serious, that you’re professional, that you can be trusted to achieve the objective or solve the problem that the client has.

7. Get a mentor or three (or an advisory board)
You don’t know what you’re doing, by definition. Others have been there, and even if they haven’t been exactly where you’re going, they’ve been around the block long enough to have a perspective you need.

Think of the 2-3 people in your life right now, people you already trust for advice or would like to get to know better. Invite them to be a mentor. It can be as simple as a bi-monthly lunch where you bring a short set of challenges to discuss. Or you can create a more formal advisory board that meets quarterly and helps you tackle opportunities and growing pains.

8. Schedule time off and stick to it
You can’t work all the time. Even if you love it, even if parts of your business feel like fun, you have to step away. If you have to, literally schedule evenings each week in which you put away your computer and phone when you walk in the door at night, and don’t look at them again until morning.

Better yet, do the same thing for a 24-hour period over the weekend (say Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon). Get your spouse or significant other to help you stay accountable to this if you need the help. But this will force you to be a bit more efficient during your work time leading up to those breaks, and it will make you more energized when you pick things back up.

9. Exercise and eat better
Make time for this, too. Sign up for a 10K a few months from now and shame yourself into sticking to a training plan. Bring your lunch to work more often. Be really careful about what you eat and drink when traveling (and consider getting up just 30 minutes earlier to hit the hotel gym briefly).

You will feel better, have more energy and endurance if you do these things.

10. Think big, triage, then focus & get stuff done
You will not run out of ideas. If you let them, they’ll keep coming and they’ll all sound really good. But you aren’t going to be able to tackle even half of them, not anytime soon.

Let your mind wander, think big, but write it all down and review your list often. Separate what’s vital to the business now and what can wait until the next time you review the list. Stay laser-focused on what’s most important and get those things done.

Heinz Marketing is a Seattle marketing agency focused on sales acceleration. Follow Matt on Twitter at @HeinzMarketing.

 

In Life & Building a Company: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

Here’s a very personal story that I shared with my thinkspace team about one year ago – April 2010. I was re-reading this story because I’m about to start my second year in the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT and I wanted to reflect back on what kind of impact is this having on me personally and for thinkspace.

April 2010

I wanted to share with you some big news! I got accepted into the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT (It’s a joint program with the Entrepreneur Organization and MIT). It’s something that I have had on my bucket list for a very long time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to knock things off my list like climb the Great Wall in China, ride a camel in the desert and touch the Great Pyramids in Egypt, but, this one on my list is more complex and the sacrifice is on a different scale. To put it in perspective, this is my Mt. Everest.

In the last fifteen years, there been four times where I’ve considered going back to school, the first time was when I was working for Paul Allan. The cost benefit of leaving a job that I loved to go back to the UW while working didn’t seem like a good fit. The second time was when I was at a Mavron funded startup, where we burned through $21M in one year and disappeared like a supernova in the dot-com bubble. I had a window where I considered going back to school, but, I got recruited to Disney too quickly for it to happen. The third time was after leaving Disney and starting up the real estate development business I also looked at going back, but, my wife and I just had Max and having a under three year old toddler around and going back didn’t make sense either. There’s always been something.

Then I found out about this program with MIT and EO. For me it’s absolutely the best program and fit for me. It’s a program that basically allows me to keep all of the things that are important to me intact. I’ve been thinking about this for the last three years and this year I finally applied to the program and amazingly somehow I got picked. The reason I say that it’s amazing that I got picked is because I look at how competitive it is to get in. It’s kind of like finding a job in the middle of the worst economic environment that we have known in our lifetime (something each of you can identify with). I can only imagine that the resumes of each applicant probably look the same and everyone that applies are founders of ridiculously impressive companies. So getting into this program is one thing, but being surrounded and given the opportunity to build lasting relationships with the classmates is going to be off the chart.

I was actually in tears when I found out I got in. It’s been a very emotional experience for me because it’s something I thought might go unchecked for the rest of my life. I remember how excited I was when I got into the UW Business School and that was a pretty amazing feeling, but, the thought of starting this journey and what it means to me is unlike anything that I’ve ever felt. It is scary to have something on my list which I really can’t control. It’s not about saving up enough money that I can go buy it. It’s not about working or studying hard and pass a test. It is about someone else looking at my life’s experience and achievement and making a subjective call to grant me the opportunity. That’s scary.

I will only need to be physically in Cambridge, MA for one week each year. So don’t worry, I’m not shutting down thinkspace. The program starts soon and I will be in the graduating class of 2012. I’ll be given the opportunity to have three consecutive years of learning and be among 65 fast-growing entrepreneurs across industries from all around the world. I think there is massive upside for thinkspace because of this experience. What I learn at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program is going to help propel this business to a new height… at least that is the expectation that I am putting on myself. My hope is to further drive this business to levels that we have yet to see.

Letting Life Unfold

I was reading a blog post by Leslie Schwartz about “Letting Life Unfold” and she stated this so perfectly: “Life is an unfolding process. Yes, we make plans, set goals and intentions, and even force things to happen at times. But I’ve discovered the best things that happen in life have a way of surprising us and turning out in ways we never could have planned. These are the times we stand in awe of the present moment, feeling gratitude and appreciation for what has unfolded in our lives.”

This is exactly how I feel.

The Third Law of Performance

Well here we are, at last!

The Third Law of Performance: Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people

The Third Law gives us the power to create results. As we learned in the First Law of Performance, “How people perform correlates to how situations occur for them,” and the Second Law of Performance, “How a situation occurs arises in language.” Then, the Third Law gives us the power to change how situations occur to us through the use of language.

However, what’s so powerful about the Third Law is the use of future-based language, not just language in general. “Future-based language does not describe how a situation occurs; it transforms how it occurs. It does this by rewriting the future.” In my introduction to this book I discussed the difference between the default and created future. The created future is one that we invent ourselves, and we can do so  with language.

It seems so simple. However, using future-based language is extremely difficult to do if you are constantly speaking from your default future. “You can’t paint a picture on top of a picture on a canvas. You can’t write a sentence on a page that is filled up with writing. You can’t create a future when there is already one coming at you. Before anything is to be created, there has to be a space of nothingness” (p. 73-74).

Zaffron and Logan spend a good chunk of the next chapter teaching the reader how to create a place of complete nothingness. The rest of the book (about 100 pages) dives into the power of future-based language and the importance of rewriting your default future.

Now that you have had the chance to read about each of the the Three Laws you might be asking yourself, “Is there any point in reading the book?” I definitely recommend it. The Three Laws of Performance is filled with some phenomenal examples of groups and organizations who have created breakthrough life-altering results thanks to the tools described in this book. I did my best to summarize my main “takeaways” however, I know that there is so much more to be learned from this book! I would hear your thoughts and feedback after reading it.

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4 Steps to Making Good Business Decisions

Starting a business can be a very scary task. It’s tough to make the many decisions that lead up to the actual start of a business. Will your company be an LLC, a C-Corp, a non-profit or something else entirely? Where will you work? Who will you hire? All of these decisions are very important, but the questions seem to become even more difficult (and the decisions even more important) as your business continues to grow. At what point should you step aside and hire a CEO? Should you attempt the difficult task of re-branding our organization? Should you hire Joe Schmo or Jane Doe? Should I Wait for the iPhone 5? ;]

When you come across a difficult crossroads, take some time to consider these four steps to ensure that you are making the best and most informed decision that you possibly can.

1. Read up on your options.

Make sure that you spend some time researching your decision and reading up on the different paths that you could take. There probably won’t be a specific article or book that talks all about your exact specific situation – there are so many things to take into account for each circumstance – but you may be able to at least gain a better understanding of the implications of your choice. You might also come across an option that you hadn’t thought of before; maybe the answer to your problem isn’t necessarily a “one or the other” but more a combination of the two.

2. Talk to people that you trust.

There’s no reason for anyone to have to go through an important decision on his or her own. Whether you speak with a business partner, trusted employee, spouse, business coach or just a good friend – just be sure that you fully trust the person you receive advice from to help steer you in the right direction. This does not mean that you beg for them to make the decision for you. Simply put, ask for them to give you the best advice they can. This advice should not, however, be the only thing that sways your verdict (after all, their perspective could be just as skewed as yours). Whoever you chose to confide in just might have a different viewpoint all together and bring up some great arguments that you might have missed before.

3. Think about how you feel.

Take time away from your everyday tasks to think about how this decision feels to you. Emotions should not fully sway your conclusion, but feelings are definitely something that you should take into account. Plus, listening to your gut might just save you from making a horrible wrong turn.

4. Take a step with confidence.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business is avoiding an important decision altogether. If you know that the decision needs to be made but you still aren’t quite sure what to do, try creating a list of pro’s and con’s for each side of the spectrum. Take one last look at all of your evidence and your list and make a decision and stick to it long enough to see what happens. The absence of a decision is not a decision in and of itself. Take action and be confident in the path that you have chosen.

All difficult decisions should be made only after putting a considerable amount of thought and time into them. You don’t want to rush your decision, but you also don’t want to be paralyzed of indecision. Do you think that there are other steps to making good business decisions (or really life decisions in general) that I have left out?

Do Your Board Members Stop You From Making Mistakes? | #techtues

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First fifteen minutes of “Build Your Board” by Mike Crill

Mike Crill, Managing Director for Atlas Accelerator spoke at thinkspace for our Tech Tuesday event. Mike spoke on “Build Your Board”. He covered things like what types of boards are there, how much to compensate your board, how to measure if your board member is adding value, and we did a fun exercise to determine which type of person to put on your board.

Types of Boards

  • Board of Directors (highest level of engagement)
  • Advisors Board (lower level of engagement but higher number of members)
  • Customer Advisory Board
  • Technical Advisory Board

Compensation

Directors

  • ½% – 2% option vested 36-48 months
  • No cliff, no cash

Advisors

  • 1/10th to ½% option vested 36-48 months
  • No cliff, no cash

Mike says you’re paying your advisors, you’re giving them equity in your company so you should ask them these two questions and see if you can check either of these boxes.

Ask your Advisory Board Members if they have:

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(Two important questions to ask your advisor – 2 min.)

  • “Stopped me from doing something I was sure was the right thing to do”
  • “Initiated something that was beneficial”

You should be getting something from each of your advisory board members. They should be initiating some new programs or ideas or they should be stopping you from doing things. If they are not, you should really be questioning why they are on your board.

My biggest take away – Dilution

On the topic of dilution: “Don’t worry about the size of the pie, just make sure the pie makes it out of the oven”. So many times you hear about not wanting to dilute your shares. When it comes down to it, you need to surround yourself with smart people that can help you be successful because the cost is too great if you don’t.

Here are the handouts from Mike’s presentation.

The Second Law of Performance

Number TwoMy post from last week discussed the First Law. This week we’re diving into the Second Law of Performance from The Three Laws of Performance by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan.

The Second Law: How a situation occurs arises in language.

Logan and Zaffron explain the Second Law by stating, “How situations occur is inseparable from language.” Which is an idea that isn’t awfully shocking. However, the statement is a bit difficult to grasp ahold of at first because language is something that seems so simple and natural to us humans.

Logan and Zaffron use Hellen Keller as a perfect illustration of this law. Keller who was born blind and deaf had no access to language. Until she met her teacher Anne Sullivan six years later, her life was transformed. Language allowed Keller to express her memories, future, and life experiences. Keller was still entirely deaf and blind with the use of language. However, the world occurred to Hellen in an entirely different way.

Our occurring world arises in more than just spoken and written language. It also arises in facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Sometimes it’s what’s not said that speaks louder than what is said.

Logan and Zaffron describe how it’s important to “clear out the clutter” when communicating for performance and results in life. The “clutter” is our thoughts that aren’t spoken out loud, the emotions we describe in our body language, and the real meaning behind our statements.

Have you ever attempted to have a meaningful conversation with someone else and you felt like they were just saying what you wanted to hear? Or, have you sat in a meeting at work and felt like you could cut the unspoken tension with a knife? These types of conversations are extremely frustrating. Especially when you enter the conversation with the intention of making progress in an area that’s lacking integrity or strategy. These types of conversations “clutter” the interpersonal space and make it impossible to create new possibilities.

How we see our world, our experiences, our past, and our future only exist in language. Whether it’s the internal story that we replay over and over again in our head. Or, if it’s the way we express ourselves to others out loud. It only ever exists through language. Without language our experiences and thoughts have no tangible meaning.

The Second Law in action might sound depressing, but really it’s quite inspiring. If our experiences and thoughts are meaningless without language, then it gives us the power to change the way we use language as a tool.

Zaffron and Logan leave the reader with a few action items for implementing the Second Law. First, they suggest that you pay attention to your internal voice and notice when your persistent stories and complaints arise. What or who are they about? What’s the complaint? Communicate your learnings with the people around you. Thinking out loud helps to remove the “clutter” and internal voice that is ever-so harmful to performance inducing results.

I will leave you with this one quote from the book that really drove home the Second Law for me, “Language is the means through which your future is already written. It is also the means through which it can be rewritten.”

UnMarketing: Cease to Sell and Begin to Engage! (Book Review)

Last time I wrote about the book UnMarketing I told you a little bit of what I thought it might be about, my excitement to read it and entirely too much about my apparent obsession with Amazon. But, that’s not going to be my blog post today (a second blog post on the exact same thing would be unforgivably boring and I normally shoot for just a little bit boring). Today is the day I tell you all about the book (now that I’ve actually read it), my main take-aways and why you should consider reading it yourself. (This blog post is pretty lengthy and I know that it might cut into your precious reading time. So, if you just want to know whether or not this book is for you, go ahead and skip to the last paragraph. Go ahead – I won’t be too upset about it!)

What is UnMarketing?

In his book UnMarketing, Scott Stratten provides you with “a winning approach to stop ineffective marketing and put relationships first – then reap the long-term, high-quality growth that follows.” Stratten consistently proves his main point that “if all business is built on relationships, then building good relationships is your business” in many different and creative ways. He uses descriptive examples and applicable research to bring his book to life and provide a backbone to his claims. His unique way of reiterating seemingly obvious (yet rarely implemented) business practices drove home important arguments and even made me laugh (which is hard to do when I’m reading a book on marketing, or business, for that matter). For me, UnMarketing brought the concept of WOM (Word of Mouth) and relationship building full circle and cleared up some of the fogginess I had on the topic.

My Top 3 Take-Aways

1. The Hierarchy of Buying
On the 2nd page of UnMarketing, I was presented with a pyramid that caused a moment of discovery. (Let’s call it the Ah-ha Pyramid! Any kind of “Ah-ha” in even the first chapter of a book is a sign of more Ah-ha’s to come – they tend to travel in herds!) Before reading UnMarketing, I knew that relationships were most important and that cold calls might not be the best form of marketing, but I didn’t have any physical evidence to back this up or a clear way to explain it. Now, I’ll just carry around a little laminated copy of this in my purse for whenever someone tells me otherwise. The Ah-ha Pyramid (properly named by Stratten as the “Hierarchy of Buying”) shows that people do business FIRST with people they know, trust and like. These people that know, trust and like you are very often going to be current satisfied customers. But, as Stratten points out, “even though customers are current, this doesn’t mean that they are happy.”


2. Good Relationships = Good Business

For years now I have been approaching potential clients and new connections with the mindset that I am there to create a relationship with them, not to sell them on a product or a service. And, it has worked quite well for me – as far as numbers are concerned and as far as my quality of life is concerned. Think about it – if I was just pushing a product day-in and day-out, my job would kind of suck (for me, maybe other people like bombarding people with greasy sales pitches?). Instead, I get to meet people – I get to hear about their life and learn from their challenges and successes. I get to meet people who eventually become friends. And, I don’t know about you, but I could always do with another friend. Stratten does an amazing job at bringing this idea full circle and reiterating the point that traditional marketing (cold-calling and the like) can make you some money but that you are really reaching for the bottom of the barrel at this point.


3. Social Media as a Tool to Engage

For those that are already engaged in social media (notice that I said “engaged” and not merely “present”), some of what Scott has to say on the subject may sound repetitive, but will offer great reminders. For those who haven’t entered the world of social media or those that have accounts but aren’t quite sure how to use them to generate business, this book offers an amazing overview of how to start successfully. The book covers topics such as “Reasons Why Companies Don’t Use Social Media” (more like excuses), the good and bad aspects of each of the most popular social media platforms, and the “7 Deadly Social Media Sins.”

Why Should YOU (yes, I said you) Read This Book?

You already have an alarming stack of books you want to read next to your desk. So, why would you want to go to the trouble of adding another one? Well, if you’re a business owner, then you know that the most important thing for your business is to make money. Without closing deals, you wouldn’t have a business, right? But, you may be all too aware of this reality, causing you to push your product on others as opposed to building relationships. Creating lasting and authentic relationships with your customers and potential customers take time, but it is the most effective way to create a successful business while enjoying yourself along the way. If you are making cold calls even though you hate receiving them yourself (irony in its richest form), then you are sliding down a slippery slope to the bottom of your market. So, you need to start now. Put UnMarketing at the top of your stack and take a second to evaluate your sales process; you’ll be glad you did.

The First Law of Performance

This post is a continuation from my Introduction to The Three Laws of Performance.  Over the next three posts I will be writing about each of the three laws individually. So, let’s jump right in…

The First Law of Performance: How people perform correlates to how situations occur for them.

You might be asking what the word occur means in this context? Allow me to explain, how situations occur to you is derived from your individual experiences in life. These experiences and the meanings that you made from them shape the way you handle different situations in your life.  Your experiences have also shaped the way you see the future.

Zaffron and Logan explain it perfectly; “Consider that when we do something, it always makes complete sense to us. On the other hand, when others do something we often question, ‘Why are they doing that? It doesn’t make any sense!'”

In order to get a full grasp on the First Law, the authors suggested imagining a person in your life who you are currently unhappy with, or someone who you’ve disliked for a long time. In your mind, brainstorm some words that you would use to describe that person. Perhaps you say that they’re  “egotistical,” “close-minded,” “a terrible listener,” “selfish,” or “irrational.”  And to you these words are a 100% accurate description of that person. However, these words only describe how that person occurs to you and not the rest of the world.

Now, consider how that person would describe you? How do you occur for that person? Perhaps they might say that you are “bitter,” “annoying,” “overly-opinionated,” etc.

When you look at the situation from both parties’ perspective it’s easier to catch where the conflict arises. In this case, you dislike your coworker for how they occur to you, and they dislike you for how you occur to them. And essentially, you have changed how you interact with this person based on how they occur to you and this changes how you occur to them. You might think, “What came first- the chicken or the egg?” However, does it really matter?

So why does practicing the First Law (along with the other two laws) create breakthrough results in performance?

When we take a step back from our individual perspectives and look at situations from another person’s point of view we tend to see situations quite differently. When we see things from a bird’s eye view we are able to vision the end results and our created futures in a new way.

It’s never “what happened” that sets people off. It’s how “what happened” occurs for that person. You have to ask questions and make an effort to gain some insight into the other party’s world.

Up next: The Second Law of Performance

 


Advisory Board: A Couple Creative Ways to Form One

I’ve been reading a lot of different articles on building an advisory board. I came across an article by Mark Suster. Mark is a two time startup founder. In the article Mark shares “Should you have an advisory board“.

Under deliver relative to expectations

Mark states that in his experience “most advisory boards under deliver relative to expectations. The people that the CEO usually picks are prominent people who are busy with their own companies. Often times the startup will give up to 2% equity in the company to advisory board members.”

Rather than focus on whether or not that is too much equity, I’d have to ask why pick prominent people that are busy building their own company? Seems like that is quite possibly the wrong approach. Yes, it’s nice to have successful people that are well known which you can associate with your company, but, if they are too busy you’re probably not going to get the value out of them. One other solution may be to talk with people that are 10-15 years older than you that perhaps are now semi-retired. One of my entrepreneur friends has told me he has gone this route and found that they are happy to give back to the entrepreneur community.

Run Semi-Annual Advisory Dinners

Mark Suster states: “Run semi-annual advisory dinners – Don’t try to solve the world’s problems with your advisers. One of the things that should attract advisers to your company is the thought that they’ll get to spend time with other luminaries that they respect. So one of your sales pitches to them to join is the other people you have on board (or are approaching). Promise them that you aren’t going to ask for tons of time and the main participation is just 2 dinners / year. Use these occasions to get them bought into your strategy and strengthen your relationship so that when you do need help you’re more likely to get it. Using this approach you may be able to get a few key advisers with no equity at all. Under this scenario I’m all for advisers. Have 8 of them!”

That approach seems like a great approach. What approach have you tried? What has worked and what hasn’t? Are you curious to learn more about forming an advisory board? If yes, we’re having an event here at thinkspace on Tuesday, May 17th from noon to 1pm. Register here!