First, Kick Ass
I give advice to a lot of entrepreneurs. This probably doesn't have much to do with any special wisdom, but more to my approach.
You see, I never ask entrepreneurs to sign any agreements or make any firm commitments up front. When I was starting my first company, a lot of people tried to get me to sign agreements granting them shares in exchange for providing advice, as a down payment on raising money, and any number of other things.
I did a lot of dumb things back then, but one of the smart things I did was to not sign any of those agreements.
Maybe they could have helped me. But I managed to start the company and raise $6 million on my own without them.
The reason that they missed out was that they forgot the cardinal rule of startups: First, kick ass.
Actually, you could also say, "First, create value," but that wouldn't be quite so punchy.
First kick ass. Then figure out how to claim the value you've created.
If you contribute to a successful company, there will be plenty of money and accolades to go around--in the Valley, success is usually binary--either you do or you don't. There isn't a lot of in between.
So what I tell people is, "I'll help you because I like you and I think your company has promise. And when we've been working together for a while, we'll figure out a way for me to be rewarded if you succeed."
Things have a way of working out.