Do you understand the importance of building a network of industry experts? Do you understand the necessity of people around you supporting your vision? According to Erik Kostelnik, the value of an advisor network is incomparable.
Erik built and grew three different businesses from the ground up—and sold each of them. He’s an expert in growing and scaling businesses with an exit strategy in mind. In episode 161 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast, he shares some of the keys to his success. One of the important ones? Building a network of support.
The value of an advisor network
The #1 thing that Erik believes he has done well with his startups? Creating an advisor network that is an extension of himself. With each company that Erik has been a part of, he surrounds himself with advisors that have shared values.
For Postal.io—his fourth startup—he’s identified six people that he’s known for years. Each has different functionality and support. He has a product guy, and M&A guy, a banker, a sales VP, etc. They take his vision and strategy and take his value proposition to specific arms. Erik firmly believes that “You’re only as good as your network is.”
Teams lift you up. Building a network that can support you and your vision leads to more success. Erik has a technical co-founder who he’s known for 20 years. Erik is the business mind and his co-founder is the technical side. They build amazing products together. When you’re building a business, you want to define people to fill the gaps that you have. In doing so, you become better than just you alone.
Your advisory network is your strategic arm not only because they like you but there’s something in it for them as well. They want you to succeed so they succeed. The folks that you have onboard have to trust you. It has to be worth their time. You have to understand your faults and where you can invest time in learning and educating yourself with your network. How can you educate them on your vision so they can share it?
Operating with a shared vision: do or die
Who is in the boat? Erik emphasizes that everyone needs to share the same focus: In 5 years we’re either going to be successful—or dead. You have to push through whatever is out there. You don’t want to build a small business. You don’t want to give it away. You want to build a billion-dollar business that is laid out strategically. You know exactly how you’re going to get to your successful exit. You NEED to surround yourself with partners, advisors, and people who believe in your vision as strongly as you do.
Anyone looking to acquire your business needs to believe in your vision as well. They need to see customers signing up. They need to see your revenue and your profit rolling in. They need to see deals being made. They need to fully understand your value proposition. They’ll take notice when you work hard to build a relationship and build trust—and they see you can execute. A good exit then becomes a foregone conclusion.
Learn more about Erik’s exit strategy (that he implements from day one of a startup) in episode 161 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. It’s a fascinating conversation debunking the misconceptions of exit strategies, how to build credibility with vendors, and the importance of trust. Don’t miss it!