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February 22nd, 2011

Accepting Advisor Advice

Posted by liveBooks

Actively seeking criticism and advice is vital to the successful entrepreneur. As a creative professional the chances are good that you are on your own most of the time when it comes to business decision-making. So what do you do to assure that your decisions are sound, timely and relevant to what is happening around you?

I have been an entrepreneur since I was a kid. Whether syndicating the neighborhood lemonade stands, starting social ventures to help the homeless, or my role here at liveBooks over the past six years, I’ve been leading teams of people toward the successful completion of common goals for most of my life. Ultimately I credit my advisors with a large part of this success. I’ve known some of them for nearly twenty years, which means they have a unique perspective because they can include knowledge of me in our discussions and decisions. Some of my advisors I speak to on a weekly basis with a set day and time, others I talk with every few weeks, while others I may only call on occasion.

Like any relationship, advisor relationships need nurturing and respect if they are to be of true value. Although most of our discussions never have a set agenda I try to prepare for the discussion by reviewing my notes from the last call or meeting and by creating a good question or two that I hope will be the cornerstone of a wonderful conversation. For instance I might ask, “Hey Jim, what type of things have you found to be most effective in staying connected with your customers?” Often times these discussions are the highpoint of my week as I listen intently for what my friend Cory refers to as “nuggets of wisdom’.

So, don’t be afraid to reach out to a person or two and ask if they might be interested in becoming an informal advisor for you and your business. As with building any team think about creating diversity of knowledge, experience and reach. Who do you know that you deeply respect and have found to be insightful and helpful in the past? Simply ask, “Hey Jim, I am putting together an informal group of people that I greatly respect that would be willing to chat with me from time-to-time and act as advisors and mentors for me – it would mean a lot to me if you would consider joining my team.” The worst that can happen is that they decline, but I guarantee they will be honored that you thought of them. Start small, make it simple, and let me hear of your experiences with advisors. As always, I hope you’ll find a little something good in this advice.

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