Another oddity in how the tech startup and scaleup industry in the UK is socialised is the idea of the “pro bono advisor”.

This is an advisor that does some work for you, seemingly without wanting to be paid. I will say now – pro bono advisors want to be paid.

Being a pro bono advisor and helping a new B2C business come to life is very different to being a pro bono human rights lawyer spending their evenings and weekends working with charities to stamp out human trafficking in Nepal.

There is no such thing as a pro bono advisor that is “looking to help your business because it looks good on their CV”. Anyone advising a business by definition does not need “help with their CV”.

I mention this because these types of engagement are unsustainable, but people are out there selling founders on using them. Any advisor you have is ultimately going to want to be paid – you’re not a charity, pro bono advisors are a type of investor, and they will want their pound of flesh when the time comes.