Startups, are you getting too much advice?

A common practice for most first time founders is that they constantly seek advice and mentorship in a bid to accelerate growth. A common pitfall however is that much of the advice they get can be misleading. Getting too much advice from supposedly individuals who even though mean well can lead to a path of failure.

This is not a new phenomena though. The effects of getting too much advice has been observed for quite a long time. In a popular fable by Aesop’s, a story of a man, a boy and donkey is told.

This  fable totally ties up to the scenarios most startups find themselves in. Ozan Sonmez from New Ventures Accelerator, KAUST, illustrated this to a group of startup founders at Startup Istanbul Conference.

Here goes the fable.

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.

The men said:

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

Moral of the story to startups: ‘A startup is your donkey, you decide what you want to do with it”

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