Yesterday I met with another passionate entrepreneur trying to get her business off the ground. With more than 500 daily readers of my blog, and with my other writing and speaking opportunities, I am getting more requests for mentoring from entrepreneurs than I can handle.
So I’m raising the bar.
One of my friends raised the bar by charging a high monthly retainer if someone really wants his help. That way, he gets paid for his time, and the entrepreneur really listens to his advice–because it’s not free.
I don’t want to charge for my services (yet), because I hate taking money from entrepreneurs who don’t have any, so here’s how I’m going to raise the bar:
Before I take time to meet with you in person or on the phone to discuss your business idea, here is what I require:
- You must be using LinkedIn.com and have at least 10 connections and 2 endorsements. That way there is a good chance that I will know someone who knows you. It will be easier for us to gain mutual trust this way.
- If you have a management team or key employees, each of them must be on LinkedIn.com with at least 5 connections.
- You must have an advisory board of 3 or more successful business people (preferrably 6-10) who believe in you and are willing to meet with you monthly or bi-monthly to dispense advice and help you with your challenges.
- If your company is at revenue stage, you must be using Quickbooks Online Edition so that I can review your financials with you as needed. This costs only $19.95 per month and gives 3 users access to your data. I need to see the real picture and not just hear about the big ideas.
- I need to see a simple cap table (showing the ownership of your company, including options and warrants)
- You must know your company’s SIC code and have a list of any publicly traded competitors that you might have. I want you to be familiar with SEC reports and gaining competitive intelligence. Too often entrepreneurs have an idea, think they are the only one doing it, and they are unaware that there are large well-funded competitiors doing the same thing. This doesn’t mean you can’t succeed by being faster and smarter than the larger company (in business, often large=slow), but I don’t want you to be unaware of your competition.
- If you do have publicly traded competitors, you must have a My Yahoo portfolio listing all their stock symbols, so you can stay current with their news and financial status.
- For your privately held competitors, I need to know the Alexa rankings of their web sites and how many employees they have. (The best way to get this info is to download the Alexa toolbar.)
- You must have set up Google Alerts so that whenever any of your competitors are in the news, you will hear about it and know what they are all up to. I want to see a complete list of your Google Alerts keywords.
- Finally: don’t dare ask me for advice or help if you haven’t read Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start. I think it’s the best book ever written on startups. I expect you to have marked up every passage that struck you as important, and I expect you to have followed his formula for startups, including the MAT approach, the 10/20/30 rule for Powerpoints, and the bottoms-up business model and forecast.
- I don’t need to read a business plan, but if you have a 1-2 page executive summary that’s okay, but certainly not required.
Okay, I got that off my chest. I really, really, really like helping energetic entrepreneurs, young or old, that are willing to learn constantly, and will not give up until their dream comes true. But before you ask me for personal time, please take these 10 steps, and then let’s talk.