We can all use good advice. And we all need help. There are advisers and then there are helpers. And it’s important to distinguish those that can offer us good advice from those who can actually help us (helpers vs. advisers). This applies in every aspect of our lives. In particular, in entrepreneurship.
I’m a big believer in asking for advice. Throughout my career, I’ve had the benefit of receiving great advice from colleagues, managers, mentors, and subject matter experts. A good and timely advice is invaluable. It can save us significant time, effort, and money. And it can also prevent us for making costly mistakes. Thus, I’m always happy to advise and share my experience with others, who ask me for advice. In fact, that was the primary reason to start this blog. To share useful experiences, advice, and thoughts.
However, there comes a time when you need actual help. As an entrepreneur, it may be when you need to raise money for your startup. Especially, if you are a first-time entrepreneur. Or, when you need to reach and connect with your target customers, or partners. In these situations, a good advice is not really helpful. What you need is someone who is willing to take action. Introduce you to investors, connect you with customers, refer you to partners. You need a helper, not an adviser. And I’m not talking about the so-called finders or reps that offer such services for a fee. I’m referring to those people who are willing to help you gratis; for free.
The difference between a helper and adviser
The primary difference between an adviser and a helper is their willingness to risk their individual social capital for you. To put it in simple words, their willingness to risk their personal reputation and relationships in order to help you. Of course, a helper is also willing to take action on your behalf. Something an adviser may be reluctant to do. And while that action may be as simple as making a call or writing an e-mail, it does represent a higher level of commitment.
In order to be ready to risk her individual social capital, and help you, a person needs to know you well enough to make this commitment. In other words, she needs to feel that being associated with you will not reflect poorly on her, and may actually add to her social capital. She needs to trust you. Plain and simple. And that implies that there needs to be a real relationship in place, not merely a LinkedIn connection, or a casual acquaintance.
Therefore, you need to know who you can call on for advice, and who you can ask for help. The latter group will rank higher in your relationships scale (see figure above). And if you’re not really sure, use this analogy, who can you call for an advice on a good and reliable mover, and who can you ask to come and help you with your move.
In summary, every entrepreneur needs sound advice and real help. To avoid disappointments and awkward situations, we should know who can we turn to for great advise and who can be our valuable helpers.
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