Life after Startup – The importance of giving Actionable support

My first Superconnector

This week I released a podcast about my first 10 years as a founder. In the first episode I took the time to thank my e-marketing professor. 

He was one of the first people that took me and my co-founder seriously when our idea was worthless. 

When our pitch was a series of incoherent sentences told with extreme enthusiasm, he was one of the few professors that didn’t try to give us 100 reasons why: 

  • Our business model didn’t make sense
  • Our proposition wasn’t good enough
  • We needed to figure out our customer first

He took a very different approach. 

He stimulated us, encouraged us to keep trying and connected us to our first clients. He did this all, knowing that we didn’t have it all figured out yet, and therefore also putting his reputation on the line.

These meetings helped us figure out the parts of our business that worked and especially what didn’t work. We were more than able to build from there. 

So what did he do so differently from our other professors?

He gave us actionable support, instead of intellectual support.


Actionable support versus Intellectual support

Actionable support, for me, means any action taken by somebody else to help you Build your business.

This kind of support will help you directly sell more product, or execute your business more efficiently.

Good examples of Actionable support:

  • They make an introduction that brings you more clients
  • They literally spend the weekend helping you build a better prototype of your product
  • They give you some resources that you can directly use (a free/cheap office space, materials for your first product batch, a free software license)


Typically the people that give this type of support are do-ers: Entrepreneurs, Great sales people, local connectors

A great example of this, is depicted in this article: When 14 year old Steve Jobs cold called Hewlet Packard to ask for some spare electronics parts, and Hewlet answered the phone himself. He actually didn’t just get the spare parts, but immediately got an internship on top.


Intellectual support, for me, means any action taken by somebody else to help you Focus your business.

This kind of support will help you indirectly sell more product, or execute your business more efficiently.

Good examples of Intellectual support:

  • They spend a few hours with you to help you figure out a smart business model
  • They inspire you with an interesting example of a unique business that had a similar concept to you and executed it brilliantly
  • They challenge you on a very obvious thing that you completely didn’t think about (for example a new customer segment)

Typically the people that give this type of support are thinkers: University professors, Consultants, Senior managers.

A great example of this is depicted in this video where a YouTuber is questioning Elon Musks rockets design.

A lack of Actionable support

In my experience as an entrepreneur, there are plenty of organisations that are great at helping with the intellectual support. Accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, mentors, coaches, governmental programs are completely filled with amazing intellectual support tools.

Intellectual support on it’s own however doesn’t get you any closer to an actual sale, a new prototype of your product or a place to host your team.

Quitte the opposite, sometimes spending so much time questioning yourself and your business, can mean you get stuck only on an intellectual level.

I have seen plenty of businesses not grow or fail because they got stuck on intellectual challenges. However the market eventually doesn’t care if in theory your idea makes complete sense.


The right balance

Don’t get me wrong, the intellectual exercise of figuring out your ultimate pitch, filling in a 100 business model canvasses or doing customer journey exercises are very valuable. If you don’t have a clear idea at any point in time, your journey is going to be an uphill battle.

However it is important to have the right balance between “actionable support” and “intellectual support”.

Don’t only seek from advice from your intellectual advisors, also make sure you have a couple very practical supporters in your corner. They might surprise you with things that actually catapult your business forward.


Giving back

Giving actionable support actually might mean taking a leap of faith, for the person helping you.

So it’s important that you invest time in the relationship with this person. Go meet them in person, get them to care about you and your business. In return you will get things that will actually help you build a business.

Afterwards, go do it yourself and help others in your surrounding.

This is for me personally the reason why I believe so much in the mission of Superconnectors: engineering breakthrough moments.

It really focusses on giving entrepreneurs actionable support (a direct connection that propels their business forward), in a world with plenty of intellectual support.

Hopefully one day I can look back and just like my professor, see how many entrepreneurs have greatly benefitted.




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