The last couple of days I have been participating in an event Master Class – Nordic Startup Managers. Dr. Eythor Ivar Jonsson has been the instigator and facilitator of this. I am happy to see there is more and more help being offered by professionals, practitioners and those who have a day job. I think there are times when this help is paramount and I encourage anyone to help an Entrepreneur and Startup Founder. That being said, I also have a pet peeve about how one should engage with the Startup Founder or Entrepreneur. This is not any different from when you are interacting with your customer, take the time to listen to the founder, understand their problem and really try to be of help. I really like the Mentor manifesto, follow it if you really want to help a founder. Brad has done a great job of deconstructing the Mentor manifesto. Read it, live it. I see so many initiatives that “also” want to help Startups and Founders, but they all fall very short because no-one really takes the effort to getting into the hood of what it means to be a founder and why they need help.
I started on this journey in 2009, never looked back. I believe entrepreneurship is a lifestyle not a glamorous one as you see in the media of Sir Richard Branson or like from the movie Social Network. This is a lifestyle of pain, struggle and trying to make it through one more day. There is also Joy, when things come together and there are brighter days but they are few and far in-between. The journey is what I cherish. Unfortunately, those who are working for the Government or has a day job can never understand the struggles of being a founder. I encouraged the group leaders that were participating from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, to request all those managers who signed up to help startups to adopt one founder for each of the manager and really help them solve the founder’s problem. I hope they do. I think Founders need all the help they can get to change the world. This is one of the main reasons I volunteer as a Mentor in every accelerator that would like to have me and any founder who reaches out to me.
I think the first exercise for those wanting to help a founder is to Give i.e their time, their network and their knowledge and know-how to build trust with the founder. I believe that Trust is the most important thing in any relationship. When you start the engagement with the Founder, you need to earn their trust. Take the time to understand their world and empathize with their world, by listening. I hardly see this from someone who wants to cross-over to the Entrepreneurial side.
I shared one of the documents that has been open sourced by the Founder Institute, called the Founder Advisory Standard Template (FAST). If you are a founder and is looking for advisors and or mentors, this is a good standard template to use and it is not too complicated and should serve everyone well. There is a reason why I want to launch the Founder Institute in Iceland, a number of these things have already been solved by the Founder Institute, we should focus here in Iceland on taking the best practises and applying them as quickly as we can to build a sustainable startup ecosystem. A sustainable startup ecosystem creates successful startups and founders.