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What to do with an advisor that gave me some really bad advice?

X
Not trying to play the blame game here, but wondering what to do about an advisor that's continuing to give bad advice. Recently, they gave me a piece of advice that actually cost us a huge sale, a mistake I'm not soon to forget. I, myself, learned a lot from that error, but my advisor continues to think they were right in that situation. This is not the first time its happened. What can I do to ease out of the relationship without cutting ties completely or burning bridges in the process, especially since they've become a good friend of mine?

16 Replies

John Seiffer
3
0
John Seiffer Advisor
Business Advisor to growing companies
That's why I recommend formalizing all advisor arrangements and giving them a time frame. For example having a board of advisors with a 1 year term. At the end, if you like each other, you can renew but if not, you don't. No hard feelings.

If they're just a friend who keeps giving free advice and you want to keep the firendship, just nod and say thanks and then do what you planned to do anyway.

You may have to have a hard conversation about let's keep this relationship to being friends and not talk about business.

I would not get into a discussion of the problem with their advice in the past or the ramifications of that.

2 more things to consider:
1) Always take advice but don't follow it blindly - adapt is as you see fit.

2) Free advice is worth what you pay for it (or less) - even this!


Andrew Lockley
2
0
Andrew Lockley Advisor
Investor and strategy consultant
Good advice often has bad results, and vice versa. It's the pattern that matters. Is the average result better with or without the help?
Ignacio Castro
1
0
Ignacio Castro Advisor
MIT Sloan Fellows 2011, MBA, PMP, CSM, exploring business opportunities in US and Latin America.
A good advise I received is to limit advisors commitment to one year, that way you can decide later on if you want to continue the relationship or find a creative way to part ways. If you have a limited number of advisor seats, then is easy to argue that there is someone else that will bring more value to the company at that particular time. Hope this helps! Good luck! *Ignacio Castro* | Founder & CEO | Startup Costa Rica | m. +[removed to protect privacy] | [removed to protect privacy] Learn more at www.startupcostarica.org | LinkedIn | @icastrocr
Rob Edenzon
1
0
Rob Edenzon Entrepreneur
Acting Vice President, Sales at Armorway Inc.
The only thing that's black and white in business is whether or not you get the sale. If you get the sale, then you can declare you were right. If not, you don't get that luxury. Especially if it's not the first time.

As a start-up, you can make a lot of mistakes. But mistakes that involve revenue are monumental.

I'm assuming this adviser has a sales background. If not, use them for what they're good for and remove them from the revenue side.

If they claim to be a sales guru, cut bait and don't worry about the personal side of things. In this situation, it's company first. If the advisor doesn't understand that, then they were the wrong person from the get go.


Rob Underwood
2
0
Rob Underwood Entrepreneur • Advisor
Advisor and Entrepreneur
1. Read "The Hard Things about Hard Things"
2. It sounds like you want to maintain a personal relationship but you know the professional relationship must end. The conversation won't become any easier by putting it off. It sounds like you are fairly certain you are getting bad advice and hence you do need to "cut (professional) ties completely." Don't delay! It'll just get harder!

If this is an informal advisor - i.e., someone who you have no formal contract with and/or isn't on your cap table - you need to have a tough conversation and get that behind you while emphasizing that you want to "stay friends". Be ready for that to be hard for her/him and that you may be on the outs for a bit. Hopefully time will heal the wound.

If this is a formal advisor you need to review whatever exit clauses there are in your agreement. If they are already partially vested, it sounds like you'll never be able to cut them out completely, but that doesn't mean you need to continue the advisory relationship.

In general, I've learned the hard way several times that "shoot the wounded" sounds cruel but is absolutely essential guidance. If an advisor or employee is not working out - and you know it in your heart and mind - it's probably time to move on. It's much like a romantic relationship. Sometimes it's over and you know it and it's best for all that a separation happens. Postponing - or worse still hoping it'll "work out" - just makes things worse.

Again, "hard things about hard things"!


Bo Gillesberg
0
0
Bo Gillesberg Entrepreneur
Medical Device Consultant & Materials Technology Entrepreneur
Most so called 'advisors' do not have much idea about starting business - if they had they would have started them selves. An advice you get will
Norman Hartmann
5
0
Norman Hartmann Advisor
Principal Expert Mobile Computing at Siemens
I think you misinterpret the role of your advisor. He/She gives you advice, YOU decide. I think the weak element here is your own decision making and judgement. Guess you need to step up your game. Good luck, Norman
Judith Hurwitz
0
0
Judith Hurwitz Entrepreneur
President & CEO Hurwitz & Associates
While advisors can be very helpful it is important to get other opinions before you leap. What does your experience tell you? Do you have a sales leader in the organization that has the experience to help you make a judgement call? Several individuals recommended limiting the tenure of an advisor -- you can always renew if the advice is valuable.
Karl Schulmeisters
1
0
Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap
The key thing here that you've left out is what level of compensation are they receiving for being and advisor. If they have equity and are vesting over time, it might just make sense to let them vest the rest of their equity but stop listening to them

OTOH if their chunk of equity is too large - then you need to invoke the 'non-perform' part of your contract. And specifically cite the issues where you believe the advice was not in line with what you had expected or need in the future, so you are terminating the contract. They keep what equity has vested (if they haven't hit the 1 year cliff, be generous and give them their first vesting)

If there is salary involved. Ibid #2.

If there is neither salary nor a lot of equity - just stop inviting them for advice
Michael Dore - ESQ, MBA, CISSP
1
2
Attorney/Consultant at Self Employed
As my contracts professor would say, "grow a spine."
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