Advisors play a critical role in the success of startups. This is especially true for ETS firms where the norms of doing business or measuring a business are not common knowledge. Making the best use of the face time with advisors is critical. We covered this topic in our blog series on Advisors. However, we want to deep dive further into one of the areas discussed in that blog – the preparation.
Preparation is the key to maximizing the value of face time with your advisors. As a rule of thumb, an hour meeting requires at least an hour of preparation to be very successful. Two hours of preparation is even better.
Following are some very tactical steps to do in your preparation:
Make sure you are using your standard template, if you do not have a standard template you should have one. Keep the slide templates consistent as it reduces the time it takes for the advisors to consume the information.
Gather the latest data and present it in the standard format. Highlight the parts you want to highlight either on a new slide or using an overlay. Do you change the format just to draw attention to certain parts? An entire blog can be written just on the topic of what data shall be included but we have provided a list as an attachment to this post. Click here and request permission to see a very simple template we have used in our past life.
Follow the same agenda as last time, only change the parts that are necessary to change. This builds a rhythm for the meetings that allow you to have continuous improvement, rather than every meeting being a snowflake.
Include in your presentation a recap of the last meeting. This can simply be a list of discussions from last time and where have you landed on each of the items and if you need any further help. This shows the advisors that there is continuity of thought and that you are consuming the advice they are giving you. Advisors need to stay motivated to give you their best.
Review the last meeting’s minutes to ensure you are adding to the agenda any items that were deferred to this meeting. This shows your preparation and completeness to the advisors. Advisors like to spend more time with founders where they see their time is not wasted.
Review the commitments and be ready to share your progress (and ask for progress from the advisor). This is a 101 level tip. You need to show accountability and hold the advisor accountable. Because you are the biggest beneficiary.
Make a list of your current problems, and categorize them into issues you know how to solve. Issues you have an idea on how to solve, but can use validation. And issues you do not know how to solve and need to discuss. From here, it is best to pick one or two and highlight them clearly as the main discussions you would like to have in the meeting.
Provide ample context – or the items you want to go deep into it is best to have some data, visuals, or a concise description created to show why this decision/issue is important. Nothing is more frustrating to the advisor than when a founder poses a large open ended question with no context. They have to keep poking at the founder like working with a vending machine to understand. Either they give up and provide generic, often inapplicable advice or they spend most of the time learning with no time left for actual brainstorming of the solution.
Remember to show that you have done your homework – what work have you done, what options you have considered (where applicable) and what help have you seen. Advisors will be able to quickly guide you and move you forward if they know what you have already done, otherwise time gets wasted in them telling you things you have already done and before you get to next steps, it becomes time to move to the next topic. This also shows that you are respecting the time of the advisor.
Reserved for future use. Do you have any ideas? Please share them with us here or on LinkedIn.
You can access our proposed template for such a meeting here. At Vixul, we provide not just the right advisors for the ETS ecosystem but also help the founders manage this relationship by adding structure, templates and examples, and taking care of the program management. Contact us to learn more about Vixul.