It is inevitable that you will encounter difficulties and hick-ups in your startup journey, which you are not sure how to solve or overcome. No worries – this is the repetitive hassle when running your business for the first time and roots in the complexity of tasks, which sometimes appear unsolvable with a small startup team, limited skills and capacities. Yet, there is a way to walk smoothly around such issues and to get qualified helpers.
The extended team
Consider your contacts as the extended arm of your team. Your network offers the additional competencies, capacities and means that you lack but have access to through your contacts and those of your co-founders. Actually, it is decisive to add central supporters as an extended team by building an (advisory) board – even in the early startup phase. The board or the wider circle of your contacts can be important door openers with their own network and experiences. Research has shown that they serve, for example, as a sounding board for your ideas as well as a guide, investor, and as operative supporters especially in the startup phase that allows you to leapfrog your venture performance.
The industry experience gained by an advisory board can save you a lot of »training money«, for instance in the international distribution of your product. The startup Ava researches and develops its products in Switzerland – but the core sales market is the USA. Accordingly, the contacts to researchers from ETH Zurich and to various distributors in the USA were of crucial importance and partly managed through their (advisory) board engagements. This has attributed to building venture legitimacy and trustworthiness for partnerships and key-employee engagement.
»The US scene is extremely dynamic and fast. And the visions are very big. Most of the people I met in San Francisco are looking for international solutions with their startups. The many years of experience of our board members has helped us tremendously to gain a foothold in this market. «
Lea von Bidder, Ava
Do not overestimate: Strong contacts
Many may think: I don’t have such high-profile contacts. Far wrong! As a first step, family and friends are important resonators and advocates in the early stages of corporate development. They give you a first honest feedback. Does the developed problem solution make sense? Try to convince familiar people before you approach the first customer. These contacts are called “Strong Ties”, people with whom you are in regular contact or have a personal relationship with. However, this will seldom include a sufficient number of successful entrepreneurs or managers of large corporations.
Do not underestimate: Weak contacts
The so-called “weak contacts” describe the part of your network that you know, but with which you only exchange sporadically. They ensure access to new information and resources, provide you with fresh ideas and further contacts, which – in the best case – bring your product as multipliers into the world. Try to go one step further and ask yourself: Which of my (weak) contacts is well connected and can help me with expert knowledge?
Learn more about the twelfth module “Network and Partner” of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.