Some entrepreneurs aren’t sure how to engage in dialogue with an Advisor, Mentor, Industry Expert, or potential Professional Trade Vendor (lawyer, accountant, etc.). If you haven’t done it much before, it can be intimidating. But, it doesn’t have to be! Most people want to be helpful. Enable them to do so for you by being prepared.

Here are some questions to think about to get you started. Some of these you would consider for yourself – you wouldn’t ask them directly. And, not all questions will be applicable for you or your company’s situation. Feel free to adapt and build from here what will be most useful.

And, if you aren’t sure, it is okay to admit that. You aren’t expected to know everything. But, you are expected to be able to know who to approach for what you need and how to ask for the information and advice you need.

Here are some questions and topics to connect with an Advisor, Mentor, and/or Industry Expert.

Regarding the Legal Entity of Your Enterprise

  • What type of legal business entity registration should I consider?
  • What are the major pros/cons of business registration options (e.g., LLC v. C Corp)?
  • Why do you believe this is the best choice?
  • What state should I register my business in? If outside of New Mexico, what are benefits to nationally known locations like DE and NV?

Personnel & Hiring

  • What type of people do I need to attract into the company to complement my skill set? How do I attract talent, given the capital I have?
  • How should I integrate advisors and advisory circles?
  • What talent and type of advisors would I most benefit from at this stage?
  • How do you feel about interns? Where can I get that type of talent?
  • Who should be on my team, and what are key strategy for team building? 

Investors& Investment

  • What are investors looking for in a business of this type and this sector when considering investment?
  • What are investor return expectations these days, given the economy?
  • How should equity work for my company and what does it mean for this business structure?
  • What are some strategies for preparing a strong pitch deck and being ready to approach investors?
  • How do I sequence my steps: should I seek investment first or build a prototype? Why?
  • What should I know about my market before talking to investors? What homework do I still need to do?
  • What information on business financial projections are investors looking for in a pitch deck?
  • How confident am I in my financial projections and what do I still need to determine?
  • Who is customer #1? Who will be customer #10?

For Lawyers:

  • See questions above on legal registration
  • What legal documents do you suggest I focus on for my business at this stage of development?
  • For intellectual property (IP) specialists: Should I register IP? How do I do that? What are the pros/cons? At what stage should I be at to do so?
  • How do I best work with you (or any lawyer)?
  • What are examples of good client behavior you recommend?
  • What mistakes do you see entrepreneurs keep making?

For CPAs and Accountants:

  • Tell me about your style of work.
  • How do I best work with you (or any CPA/Accountant)?
  • How frequently should I be generating financial statements?
  • Would you recommend a cash basis or accrual?
  • What are examples of good client behavior you recommend?
  • What mistakes do you see entrepreneurs keep making?

About the Authors & Their Organizations:

Kristin Morehead, Kristin Morehead manages the Arrowhead Innovation Network and the Arrowhead Ventures program at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, https://arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/. The programs she manages support projects, partnerships and initiatives that support entrepreneurship and business growth.  She also oversees NMSU’s role in the New Mexico Small Business (NSMBA) Program, in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.  She supports entrepreneurial education and technical assistance initiatives for businesses across New Mexico and the Borderplex region. Contact Kristin at kmorehea@nmsu.edu.

Drew Tulchin is Managing Partner of UpSpring Associates, www.upspringassociates.com. UpSpring is a network of consultants using the power of the marketplace for good. Based in New Mexico, Tulchin brings nearly three decades of experience moving start-up companies from idea to reality, putting together the right materials to define them, and securing the capital they need to advance. His efforts have led to companies raising more than $300 million in new capital in equity, debt, government programs, and other sources. Reach them at info@upspringassociates.com.

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