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Can Your Personal Network Help You Grow Your Tech Startup?

By Emily Smith on Mon, Apr 18, 2016

With so many sources of startup advice available at ever increasing price points, it’s likely that your personal network - those closest to you - will be your first port of call.

In the early days of your startup, your personal network can be an invaluable source of support, advice and guidance. But just how useful will their advice be in helping you outgrow your competitors?

Who’s In Your Personal Network?

The strength and value of your personal network will depend on who’s in it. Friends, family and former colleagues will be able to advise you up to a point, but the most valuable startup advice will come from others in a similar situation to you: other startup founders or CEOs.

Unless you’ve got a strong personal network consisting of many others in similar roles and situations to you, the advice you receive from your network is likely to be a bit of a mixed bag.

And even if you are lucky enough to know lots of other startup founders who can give you relevant advice, it isn’t a great idea to rely on your personal networks as your primary source of advice, as they lack the objectivity of people who don’t have a personal connection with you.

Pro’s and Con’s of Leveraging Your Personal Network for Advice

strengths

Personal advice: you will have a personal relationship with your network, and they will be available to support you through the highs and lows of growing your startup.

Free advice: your network won’t charge you for their advice, unlike advisors or investors.

Weaknessess

Biased advice: you run the risk that the advice you receive from your network will be skewed by their personal relationship with you: they don’t want to offend you/ worry you/ overly influence you, etc.

Missing industry experience: unless you have an extensive personal network consisting of other tech startup CEOs (in which case, lucky you!), they won’t have any in-depth knowledge or experience of the startup scene, which may limit the usefulness and relevance of their advice.

Not always available: of course, your family and friends will always be available to advise and support you when you need it, but the best source of advice within your personal network will be other CEOs and startup founders. But other founders and CEOs are likely to be just as busy as you, so might not be available when you need them.

Don’t Mistake ‘Not Relevant’ for ‘Not Useful’

No doubt your startup is all you think about, day and night, and you’re so close to it that it can be hard to think about your concern, challenge or decision from an objective standpoint. In these instances, it’s invaluable to get advice from someone removed from your situation - even if their experience doesn’t tie in with your current situation

Friends, family and fellow business owners in your personal network can provide valuable advice for the unbeatable price of nothing, so are a great first calling point if you want to mull over an idea or discuss a concern, but for more specialised, expert advice – particularly as your startup grows and your concerns get more complicated – you may be better off seeking advice from a mentor, consultant or advisor.

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