You don’t need more advice, you need more practice
You might think you need advice but practice is what you really need.
— Hiten Shah (@hnshah) January 12, 2014
I meet with people working on new things, every day. Specifically people on the teams within my own companies, founders of other companies or people working in startups, both very early stage and later stage. I get asked for my advice a lot. I’ve previously written on how I like to give advice and why I prefer context first.
The conversations that start with context allow me to jump right in (small talk isn’t in my vocabulary). So, my best meetings are when the other person is ready to take action right away after the meeting. That involves helping someone think about their current situation in a better way. I provide thoughts and feedback on what the person should do next. The advice I give is always focused on action towards growth and progress. It’s what I love to think about and help others think about too.
The people who are able to progress and grow the fastest are the ones who take the advice of others (when they need it) and get right to doing something about their situation. They don’t linger around trying to get too much advice or constantly validate their own thinking, they do something. They focus on what action they can take next.
If you do this, you will get practice at focusing on the right things in order to make faster decisions. You will learn how to avoid spending unnecessary time and energy into something before you know it’ll work. You’ll start doing tiny experiments, fail often and thus learn faster. I’m not suggesting you make hasty decisions. You should make smaller decisions, more frequently that are based on experimentation for learning.
Here are three of the most common scenarios where I’m asked for advice:
Trying to figure out the best way to do marketing for your business
These days companies tend to already have a few customers even at their earliest of stages. Ask yourself what’s working that’s got you your current customers. Then just figure out how to do more of that. It’s that simple because it doesn’t need to scale at first.
Trying to decide between raising a first round from angels and seed investors or VCs with larger funds
I’ve seen too many first-time founders waste weeks of time by making the mistake of trying to raise a seed round from VCs. Take as few meetings as possible with VCs to gauge their interest in your business at this stage. If they don’t show much interest or it’s lukewarm, focus on the angels and seed investors.
Trying to find people to join your team
You should start with people whom you or other people on your team already know. Each person that’s on the team has a network of people they know, whether they consciously think about it or not. Just start by asking your team to list out the best people they’ve worked with or interacted with in the past. This will make your team think about who they’d like to work with and bring on into the company. It’s very common in startups for the #1 source of new potential candidates to be referrals from existing team members.
When you are in a situation and looking for advice, just remember that you don’t need more advice unless it’s going to help you take action and get more practice.