What I am about to say may come as a shock to you, and I don’t always give away my best secrets like this, but if you can accept what I am about to say I guarantee you will be far more likely to experience success. One thing you must accept to be successful in anything you do is this, “the world doesn’t revolve around you and your idea”.
Shocking right? Let’s take a deep breath and really think about this.
No matter who you are, you will always have a biased view of any idea you decide to pursue and bring to fruition. It’s okay! It gets to the best of us! Even Bill Gates and all his glory has fallen victim to this in the early 2000’s when he simply ignored how search was becoming popular and continued to focus on what he thought was most important, the browser. This biased viewpoint later proved as a huge missed opportunity when Google tripled their revenue in 2003 to $962 million dollars!
So how do we put aside our ego and make decisions from an unbiased and focused viewpoint? The cure for this is creating an advisory board that will call you out on your B.S. and give you honest and constructive opinions and ideas to keep your ego in check.
Setting up an advisory board to help formulate your product idea is a relatively untouched practice in the startup community. Unfortunately, people have a genuine concern over sharing their ideas, assuming that someone is going to steal them and take all the glory. However, the benefit to forming an advisory board is pretty straight forward.
You may have the absolute best concept in the world, your development team may love it, your friends and family may love it and everyone says they will give you money. However, these people are close to you and are always going to speak to your best interest, whether it is true or not.
An advisory board is a group of individuals, companies, managers, or even random people off the street (last one not recommended) who will give you an honest, unbiased opinion about your product. Your advisory board doesn’t have to be Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, or Donald Trump. An advisory board can be anybody who can advise on your product, and often times there are several verticals people should consider.
1. Is my product marketable? The best advisor on this is someone that is ultimately going to be a customer.
2. Is my product sellable? This advisor should participate in some sort of financial space. As a tech startup, you might have a product or service you offer, but most fail to realize that the startup itself becomes a product. You as an entrepreneur want to create the opportunity to exit that.
3. Do I have a tech expert? Having someone that is technical, even if they aren’t involved in the development process is key. Everybody knows some development person somewhere. If not, there is a thing called Linkedin, or this thing called a phone that can be used to call friends and family to see if they have a technical resource in their networks. You want someone to not necessarily be involved in the development process, but instead to advise on the process.
In fact, it is smart to have your advisory group removed from the actual production, because if they invest more time than a cursory oversight level relationship they become just as invested in your product as you are. You want to make sure your advisory board is going to be honest as possible.
Your advisory board is not there to make decisions or steer the company, but instead there as a sounding board. Don’t be shy to give these people full access to your entire system, and encourage them to go out and share the concept with those they think are like minded. It will lend itself to a lot of different feedback, and different opportunities. Don’t be afraid of criticisms, because yes, you might get something negative, but it’s only going to help you build and maintain a better product.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR| GEOFFREY RADCLIFFE
Geoff Radcliffe is Raster Media's resident "jack-of-all-trades" by experience. Geoff is uniquely positioned to quickly understand not only the technical aspects of any business idea but the strategic implications of improving existing services or the long term success strategies of a new startup. Follow Geoff via Twitter @radcliffe001 Find Geoff on Google
Have a question, a startup idea, a dream? Email Geoff at Geoff@RasterMedia.com