How can I be a good startup advisor/mentor?

What are you looking for from an advisor/mentor? What makes a good advisor? AND a bad advisor?. Thanks!


I was born a maker, and I've been an Entrepreneur for six years now (and a wannabe for much longer before that) and I think the worst advice I've got was from people who had never taken a step of the journey.

People with academic (or other) credentials who advise you based on theory and completely miss the point of entrepreneurship. They know about the theory of sales funnels and marketing strategies and much more but they've never made a cold call. Or a sale for that matter.

The best advice I received was from my godfather, who is an entrepreneur and salesman. That advice was simple, brutal and actionable: "If you can't sell it to a customer, how do you expect to sell it to a salesman ?". That made me realize that you don't stand a chance at success if you can't convince anyone.

A good startup advisor understands all of the field he's advising about and knows what a startup is.

He knows how to apply his knowledge to the constraints a startup faces and how to deliver that wisdom in regular words to support the startup's decision process.

Answered 8 years ago

A good advisor is someone who listens to your problems and can relate to what you are going through. A bad advisor is someone who thinks he or she can quickly step in and out of your situations and provide valuable strategic feedback w/o working side by side.

A bad mentor is someone who oversteps their experience and gives advice on something they don't know or assume that because they own a business they are suddenly business, marketing, strategy, experts. Experience doesn't make good, much less an expert. This is a huge fallacy we are currently dealing.

I have been a mentor for about 5 years now, consultant for 7 and entrepreneur for about 10, also have credentials in various industries from arts, engineering and masters in business. You can quickly point out the good from the bad.

Answered 8 years ago

As a founder of my own company and an advisor for a handful of startups, a good advisor to me are those that have been through what I'm going through. An advisor is more than just giving advice, and definitely not someone to make your decisions for you. They're someone that guides you to come to your own conclusion. Their roles could also include introductions, investments, and early proof of concept.

The worst type of advisors for me, aside from those giving blatantly bad advice, are those that feel they sit on a throne above you. The image I hope gives a general characteristic; these are people that value their time more than yours, think their advice is law, and feel that you owe them for everything they do for you.

Obviously this is a generalization of what an advisor should be. There are those that don't check off all the requirements but are still great advisors. Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

Answered 8 years ago


I am not trying to sell you on calling me. Really, I am pretty busy with my businesses and consulting. However, I need more info before I could have a greater impact in helping you.

Ask, Ask, Ask, then Ask again.

Here is $10,000 worth of information for free and in a nutshell.

Concentrate on the 3 M's. There are actually 7, but 3 will do for now. These are Market, Message, and Media. They come in that order.

Who is your target market (customer, clients, buyers, users, etc.)?
Tailor your laser focused message for this target market.
What is the best media mix to get your message to that market?

Here's what you do...first, make it an offer that is so incredible that they cannot resist. Secondly, do all the work for them. Make it so easy to make the purchase now that they can do it virtually without effort. Thirdly, give them an incentive to act right now. Fourthly, offer an almost unbelievable guarantee. Fifth, offer a bonus for acting now. There are many other incredible steps, but these steps should help the novice to the professional sell anything.

Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, you have to focus on selling to only one person. You can actually sell to one person at a time while selling to millions at a time. They are one and the same. Don't get off track, what we call digital marketing selling is just selling in print. And that has not changed since Cluade Hopkins wrote "Scientific Advertising." Really long before he wrote the book.

The secret to success: I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the biggest names in business, celebrities, actors, entrepreneurs, business people, and companies from startup to billion dollar operations. The number one reason for their success is doing what they know and love while doing it in new, creative, and innovative ways.

Ask, Ask, Ask. Have thick skin and learn from each "mistake." In a short while, the market will tell you what you need to do and who and what you need to ask. But get started now even if that just means asking a contact on LinkedIn.

While you are thinking, think big and think of something at least 1% better, newer, or different. And being cheaper is not a winning strategy.

Make decisions quickly and change decisions slowly..unless you are actually going off a cliff.

Remember these two 11 letter words...persistence and consistency. They are two of the most important tools ever invented.

Treat everybody you talk to and everybody you meet (including yourself) like each is your number one million dollar customer.

Bootstrap when possible and reasonable. Read "How To Get Rich" by Felix Dennis. Or better yet just remember the camel's nose in the tent story.

However, sometimes you just need to make a deal.

Listen, in any business you have to take some chances and some risks. Make sure you don't need a license and go for it. Remember, timid business people have skinny kids. Paraphrased from Zig Ziglar.

Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.

Michael Irvin, MBA, RN

Answered 8 years ago

A mentor is person who can guide you in your career. A mentor will be called a 'good mentor' when he/she understand you and know how to make you understand. He/she should motivate you, guide you, assist you, like what you are doing and most important should be interested in what you are doing.

The opposite of above will be true for calling someone a 'bad mentor'. Besides that a mentor should not enforce his/her own ideas on people, instead he/she should shape the dreams of people in a way that they have wings and they can fly n reach the sky.

I have been mentoring and advising since years and I can tell you it's a relationship like love. I am always concerned about them and they are always concerned about me. We compliment each other and we think of growth on mutual terms.

You must have an interaction with the potential mentor/advisor and find out whether he/she is matching you or not.

All the best.

Answered 7 years ago

Whilst entrepreneurs know that mentors/advisors are vital to the growth of their companies, much confusion persists regarding what an advisory board is, which roles advisors can be expected to play, and how start-ups should secure mentors in the first place. “Once in a blue moon, everything might work out well but more often than not, your relationship will fizzle or be inconsistent at best if you don’t have an advisor agreement in place.” An advisor agreement is a legal document that briefly outlines the advisor’s commitment to your company and stipulates the amount of equity that he/she will receive in exchange for his/her services. The Founder Institute’s “FAST” template is a popular agreement form that is worth considering. Instead, not only must you «do your homework» by cultivating an understanding of why exactly you want these people on your board and how exactly you think they can help your company but you also must be able to present data about your start-up operations. Commit yourself to this mentality before taking any meetings with potential mentors/advisors.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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