Advice

One of the most underrated skills all good founders have

A quick one for your Monday morning, before you tackle your weekend backlog of emails!

I met with a founder of a successful London based startup at the weekend. Sitting and listening to her story, the problems both she and her startup have faced, I couldn’t help but notice she had something I don’t see in many founders.

She had the ability to distill and understand the context around the advice many advisors (including me), non-execs, investors, employees, and friends had given her.

I’ve thought about writing a post on this before, but having met with her and seeing the difference it made to her approach to running her company it spurred me into action.

First off – I see quite a few founders forget that it’s their company. It’s their vision. They lose track. They think they have to water down their drive and direction simply because they’ve taken outside cash from an overzealous investor. What worked for a previous successful portfolio company of an investor may not work for you. Or maybe it will. You just have to have to understand the context before blindly accepting any advice.

As founder and CEO of a bunch of companies, each and every day I hear someone giving me advice on direction and strategy. Which is great. More opinions, more intelligent debates, more chance of success.

The key element is being able to understand the context of why someone has given that specific piece of advice. What’s their background, what business models are they used too, what angle are they taking, what do they want.

If you start to approach the advice that you receive like this, you can start to distill the wheat from the chaff.