Startups are not for the fainthearted. It takes talent, ambition and persistence to add value and to be successful, whilst navigating the legal and compliance which often threaten to suppress the innovation. Some quick tips below for advisers of startups (like us!) and the entrepreneur founders themselves.
Once you familiarise yourself with how the startup is to operate, take time to study the strategies that key decision-makers (such as the CEO, executive team and department leaders) will utilise to drive the business forward, ensuring that you consider the risks from financial, operational and reputational perspectives. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in reading innovation, relevant industry and business articles, seeking further relevant professional development and listening to industry podcasts.
An individual’s ability to proactively identify and resolve risks prior to any potential disasters occurring is critical. Not all organisations will have decision-making protocols, particularly if they are in their infancy. Be prepared for situations where it is unknown about whether and when to involve a professional advisers such as a lawyer, accountant or financial or business adviser in decision-making. Building professional and mutually beneficial relationships early is key in building trusted long term relationships and so that advisers can get to know the business in a more insightful way. Timely and relevant advice can then be provided regarding future decisions as and when they arise.
A savvy startup adviser not only issue spots, but has the ability to effectively resolve such issues, which align with the startup’s legal, financial, operational and reputational needs. To build a true business partnership between startup and adviser, the adviser should brief the executive on issues that require attention, as well as offer proposed actionable solutions.
The Adaptable Generalist
Advisers to a startup generally receive any work that is legal, business, compliance or advice related. Be open to learning new things and expanding your horizons. For example, yesterday the startup needed advice with an insurance matter, today it is an employment matter, and tomorrow there may be agreements or disagreements between owners or directors of the startup.
You should reach out to your professional support network including mentors, classmates and fellow startup peers. Networking with other professionals and industry subject matter experts already working in the environment will hold you in good stead as an adviser or founder of a startup into the future.
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Insight Written by Meghan Warren