Who Helps a Startup?

Mar 08, 2011

The right help is often scarce when you’re a Startup, Entrepreneur, Founder, or Startup CEO without revenue or a salary.

I recently was contacted by another consultant, you know…they want $5,000 to help you plan your business. Maybe it’s the fact that I openly admit to being ADD, I’m automatically targeted as someone who can’t organize or plan. And I’m not saying the planning isn’t worth it, but instead am writing this to (hopefully) encourage Entrepreneur consultants to adjust their revenue models to fit their market: the Entrepreneur.

Here is my reasoning for adjusting your revenue models as an Entrepreneur consultant:

Startup situations are different then when you’re an executive. An executive simply hires an Entrepreneur consultant, or executive coach…and there’s millions of those. They’re really an overcrowded market.

But when you’re a startup (pre-revenue), help doesn’t exist because anything that isn’t an absolute nessacity gets thrown out of the equation. “Help”, as badly as it is needed, is not a nessacity in the Entrepreneur’s mind. “Help” is a value add. And this seems to be a common confusion among consultants. They often don’t understand “why” Entrepreneurs won’t pay for their services off the bat.

I was trying to explain this Entrepreneur problem to my startup students…a few want to be Entrepreneur consultants. It appears like an ordinary business transaction to them (those that aren’t yet Entrepreneurs)…an Entrepreneur needs help during the startup phase, and consultants get paid to do that.

Simple..right? Wrong. The Entrepreneur market may appear happy and simple, but inside they’re complex and emotional.

Let’s decode some of that internal complication:

That Entrepreneur is in survival mode. It’s a journey. It’s a drought. It’s survival of the fittest. That Entrepreneur can’t even begin to think ahead..because he’s hyper-focused on surviving the present reality. If you try to take something off their plate (when it’s not even there yet), you breed resentment. The Entrepreneur, yes, does have visions…big goals…big plans…but always has a firm grip on the present. The Entrepreneur says “I’m suffering…because I have to pay you, because you can’t take a risk like me? I don’t think so”. The Entrepreneur wants you to suffer with them. The Entrepreneurs hard life tells him there is no glory for someone who doesn’t struggle.

It’s similar to an animal instinct: never mess with an animal in survival mode. What animals may normally share food, all of sudden can become hostile. And if you’re trying to charge an Entrepreneur for a “value add” in the midst of a struggle (aka: startup phase), you’re a hyena taking food off the table. You trigger the competitive and survival mechanisms.

So for an Entrepreneur, is it really called “being competitive” or is it called “survival mode”? Because we know that once an Entrepreneur achieves a certain amount of success, they no longer appear to be competitive…and dedicate more focus to their startup, as well as build better products and teams. We also know Entrepreneurs will gladly return success, but never until it is achieved.

Just some thoughts..