3 Ways That New Entrepreneurs Can Find Good Advice

Keith Krach
December 23, 2016

Entrepreneurs are a crucial component of the American economy. They help create jobs for our workers, they add to the national income, and most importantly, they are a primary source of innovation, as they build the companies that develop the industry-changing products which advance society. Entrepreneurs have been responsible for some of the most revolutionary tools and technologies in recent memory, and their presence in the business sector is one of the most valuable components of growth in America today.

It stands to reason, then, that we should be invested in helping the men and women who take it upon themselves to found startups and head their own businesses. Navigating the challenges and complexities that are sure to arise in the course of fueling the growth of a young business can be made simpler with the right advice, but an entrepreneur first must know where to look for it. Listed here are three people that entrepreneurs should turn to for advice when growing a new business.

1. Mentors

Taking the time to seek out a business mentor is one of the best investments that a new entrepreneur can make. A great mentor can mean the difference between success and failure in some cases, as studies show as many as 70 percent of startup leaders who participated in business mentoring helmed companies that were in business past the five-year mark. By comparison, the US Small Business Administration estimates that as little as 30 percent of all new businesses in America are able to stay in business for more than two years.

Mentors are able to give new business owners advice earned through years of personal experience, helping them to avoid some of the more common mistakes that inexperienced entrepreneurs are prone to making. Additionally, mentors can offer young entrepreneurs advice for the more personal aspects of running a startup, including ways to mitigate and cope with stress. Business mentors may also serve as an excellent source of encouragement in instances where the new business owner is unsure of the direction or future of the company.

The best kind of business mentor is someone who is direct with their opinions, but also supports the mentee’s need to make their own decisions. A mentor is one of the most important people to seek out for excellent business advice.

2. Employees

In the earliest stages of a startup, the entrepreneur may be assuming responsibility for all or most of the tasks that allow the company to operate. As the company grows, the best business leaders carefully cultivate a work team comprised of members with a wide range of talents to support everyday functions.

If the new entrepreneur has invested the requisite time and energy into cultivating a talented staff that works to achieve the goals of the company, then they should be sure to seek out the input of employees when making decisions about the company. Arguably, no one knows the inner workings of the company or is clearer about the firm’s vision and goals than the small group of staff members who support its everyday operations. Their advice can be especially valuable as a fledgling startup reaches more complex phases of development, and the founder can no longer keep track of every facet of business alone. As an added bonus, seeking the input of your employees makes them feel more engaged within the company, leading to greater productivity and overall job happiness.

3. Customers

Some of the best advice come in the form of customer feedback, in both a direct and an indirect capacity. In the digital age, big data can provide company leaders with incredible insight to customer needs through data collected on related buying habits, network traffic, demographic characteristics, retention costs, lifetime value, and satisfaction levels. Using this information can help business owners refine products and services to increase the appeal of their company and construct better digital marketing strategies.

Likewise, soliciting direct feedback from customers can provide entrepreneurs with useful information for the development of products and services. Through methods like feedback boxes and surveys, entrepreneurs are able to ask targeted questions that focus on specific areas within company operations, rather than relying purely upon the information gathered through big data.

While customer feedback is a valuable source of advice for the company that wants to improve its business model, it’s important to remember that listening to what customers want will only be beneficial if you also consider what it is that they need. Modern business trends change abruptly, and what they want today may not be what they want tomorrow. More importantly, it is the role of the modern business to innovate—a feat that can be difficult to accomplish if a business leader is focused too closely on adapting existing products to meet customer needs. Make changes that will have a direct, lasting benefits when you can, but keep an eye out for opportunities to give your customers products that they never knew they needed.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.