Giving Advice and Taking Advice with an Advisor

August 11, 2016

As any good entrepreneur knows, it's not only good to give advice but also good to listen to it.Mike Gomez is a Village Advisor and an expert salesman with profound experience, even having sold billions in fighter jets. Mike’s been a part of the Village community for quite some time.  While he’s worked frequently with large enterprises, he loves helping startups succeed. So we sat down with him to get his no nonsense thoughts on making it in the startup world.“It’s the same reason why I started consulting after I left the corporate world. The failure rate… is tough, and there is such a small distance between failure and success. If you just follow some of the rules of business, it can literally turn what would be a tremendous idea into something that can be long-term in business. You have to embrace the rules of business, and you can change your success rate in amazing ways. That’s my passion. Be able to follow f***ing rules. If they do, they will be so happy!Everyone wants shortcuts; there’s not one. I’m taking all my passion and energy and throwing it into telling people, ‘Slow down. Follow the rules. Put a plan in place, vet it first, talk to people about it, expose it to people who aren’t your friends, and see whether it stands up to scrutiny. It’s the business planning part when you can determine whether a startup will succeed or fail. If it doesn’t succeed on paper first, it definitely won’t succeed in the real world.’”

Sometimes our Advisors even start helping each other.

Mike and fellow Village Advisor Yuri often advise our entrepreneurs right next to each other on Fridays at the Village. One week, they were sitting next to each other, and “Mike was meeting with someone else, and he just started advising me,” Yuri said, laughing. “It was good, though.”  A discussion began, and as Yuri shared about his business, Mike asked, "So… Who are you going to sell this to?" "Lawyers." "That’s not possible." Mike proceeded to encourage Yuri that his target audience must be small, targeted, and focused. He helped Yuri narrow his audience from billions to less than one hundred. Mike explained, “Get some success, and then expand to a broader market.”This is a great example of Mike’s approach to advising startups: “You must think through the customer’s eyes; that’s how I give advice. I give them advice based on what I’d think as a customer. I want to give them something tangible, something they can do right now. And then the next week, something else, and then something else. I break it down into small, bite-size pieces. When you walk away from a meeting with me, you should think, ‘I know what I should do next.’”After following up with Mike’s advice and seeing results, Yuri came back: “We followed up every Friday, and then we slowly continued in the same discussion, and Mike just naturally became a mentor to me. I didn’t feel like I was taking his time, but it felt genuine, and he just wanted to share his processes with me to help me.”Yuri and Mike have been meeting now for several months, and Yuri’s certainly seen how taking Mike’s advice has helped: “I’ve seen the most important change on a very deep level: my perspective in analysis as I go through this startup journey has deepened. The second area in which I’ve seen the most change is execution. It becomes useful to have an advisor when you’re actually putting things into action. Mike provided a step-by-step approach for doing something - a framework. As I go along, I see its truth more and more. I see it as something very tangible. There are many ways it’s manifested in my startup.”As one of many Village Advisors, Mike gives entrepreneurs something tangible and real so they can immediately see results. He says that is the most gratifying part of volunteering his time: "It makes you feel good about what you do.”

If you are an entrepreneur who has not yet learned the value of an Advisor, you need to change that. Find someone who is a good match for you, and then sit, listen, take their advice, and watch your startup grow.

This post was written by Raleigh Rose, Mentor Coordinator.

August 11, 2016
Karen Houghton