Advising Services

You don’t need to do it alone.

Clients work with me because I give them the expert guidance, creative solutions and actionable advice they need to build a thriving business and bring their dream to life.

No matter where you’re located — in the US or across the globe — you can have a trusted advisor and objective voice of experience on call to help you figure out the hard stuff while avoiding the classic (and not-so-classic) pitfalls, saving you time and money in the long-run.

Our work together is personal and collaborative — and always tailored to your specific business. Our conversations work as a mind-meld of sorts, so that I’m able to understand your vision and what’s important to you. From there I’ll know what needs to happen to get you where you want to go.

“The greatest strength Diane brings to the table is her business background combined with her critical thinking. She’s insightful, asking challenging questions about key business issues.”

Andrew ShamRao

Divaker Consulting

What it’s like working with me.

Every startup advisor brings their own approach to the advisory process. Here’s what mine is like:
I use a collaborative approach from start to finish.
At Startup Distillery I don’t do it for you, I do it with you — combining your vision and my expertise to help you achieve your goals. Working closely together, I help you through the “tough stuff.” Sticky issues? Difficult dilemmas? We’ll tackle them together, with me leading the way.
I’m unapologetically candid.
I wouldn’t be helping if we only focused on the bright side, so I’ll always give it to you straight. If the numbers don’t add up or the market potential isn’t there, I’ll say so and help you make a course correction so you don’t waste time (or money). When it comes to your success, there’s no room for fairy tales.
I rely on my decades of experience and proven expertise.
More than 20 years of proven startup expertise (plus a Wharton degree) informs all of the strategies and guidance I share with you. I won’t be giving you advice based on fads or popular opinion or because I got lucky founding a single startup. With me, you’re getting advice from someone who’s been in the game through booms and busts and everything in-between, helping entrepreneurs like you build businesses intended for the real world.
I’m surprisingly accessible.
When you contact Startup Distillery, you won’t reach a receptionist or an assistant. You’ll speak directly with me. I’ll work closely with you to get to know you and your business, and I’ll be there with you every step of the way.

Clients know they can come to me any time, with any question, in any circumstance. When you work with me, you’ll have my decades of experience at your complete disposal.

When working with clients, I use four key skills concurrently:
  1. Listening. To everything. I don’t give advice without understanding everything you’re thinking, considering and dreaming about.
  2. Organizing what you need into a step-by-step action plan.
  3. Synthesizing (my particular strength) the connections I see between thoughts and ideas that may, at first glance, seem unrelated. This is how I find the hidden opportunities and strategies for you that others may not notice.
  4. Creative problem solving to help you navigate any roadblocks or obstacles you encounter.

I absolutely love my work.

I can understand if all of this feels a bit daunting. So I take all of your must-do’s, should do’s, wanna-do’s and don’t-know-how-to-do’s and give you clarity and guidance as I help make “the hard parts” easy and manageable. Fun is also high on my priority list.

“Diane provided exceptional business guidance and skill. Her strategic counsel ultimately saved us significant time and expense.”

Jeremy Henderson

MetaJunkie

Who do I work with?

I’m what they call “industry agnostic.” I like to focus on working with people trying to make something great for themselves who just need some guidance and some support and someone to tell them either HOW to do something or what to do NEXT.

Because of the breadth of my experience (plus dual talents as wordsmith and number cruncher), I’m able to work with any type of business in any kind of industry, and have done so for over 20 years — from scientists to creatives to moms to media executives to personal trainers as well as bankers, lawyers, engineers… you name it.

I also work with those who are new to starting a business. Rest assured, there are no “stupid questions” in my world. I’ll meet you where you are — from absolute beginner to serial entrepreneur — and help you move forward with confidence.

And yes, I also work with international clients. Even though I’m based in the United States, my clients don’t have to be. Thanks to modern technology I work with entrepreneurs all over the world.

What I do for my clients.

When you’re building or growing your business, there are a lot of things to do.

I’ve helped countless entrepreneurs just like you achieve their business, financial and lifestyle goals, but not by selling cookie-cutter solutions. Instead, I talk to you — about your unique needs and problems and headaches and dilemmas and hopes and dreams — and I answer the questions that you need to get answered… and give you the steps you need to reach your goals.

Over the years I’ve noticed that what entrepreneurs most often need help with tends to fall into six different categories:

1. Step-by-Step Roadmaps.

(or… “Tell me how to ___ [fill in the blank].”)

Every entrepreneur needs step-by-step help for their business at one time or another. Sometimes you’re not sure what to do. Or how to do it. Or things are becoming a little overwhelming.

Maybe you have a goal (even a dream goal), but don’t know how to get from here to there. You wish there were someone who could just tell you how to do it.

I can do that for you.

For years I’ve been helping business owners achieve their goals by developing step-by-step roadmaps to get them there.

Clients come to me when they want to build their dream business or need help growing or want to change direction. Some want to reinvent their careers, begin their next act or transform their lifestyle into something more flexible or meaningful.

  • Carolina asked me how to get her skincare line into Walgreens.
    I’ve got a roadmap for that.
  • Lila asked me how to develop a children’s activity subscription kit.
    I’ve got a roadmap for that.
  • Larry found himself at a personal and professional crossroads, and wanted help refocusing his law practice from real estate to the cannabis industry.
    I’ve got a roadmap for that.
  • Kathryn asked me how to figure out if people will like the new beverage she’s developing.
    I’ve got a roadmap for that.
  • Michael is a creative professional who wanted to expand his client base.
    I’ve got a roadmap for that.

Together I’ll help you build a roadmap that is actionable and achievable, so that we can turn your big ideas and goals into reality, one step at a time.

2. Financial Projections.

(or… “Help! I’m not a math person.”)

Hate numbers? You wouldn’t be the first to break into a cold sweat hearing “revenues minus expenses.” I can help you not only prepare your financials, but also understand them.

I’ll help you build your financial projections step by step, explaining vocabulary in plain English and getting you so comfortable with the numbers that you’ll be able to explain them to investors, partners — even your accountant.

3. Pricing Strategy.

(or… “How to price for profit and/or get paid what I’m worth.”)

Figuring out the right prices for your products or service scan be a tricky business. Too often I’ve seen businesses that forget to include all of their relevant expenses, so they don’t realize they’re losing money until it’s too late. Or I see consultants not getting paid what they’re worth (often women, which just about kills me).

I can help you develop a pricing strategy that keeps you profitable and in the black. And if you’re providing a service, I can help you get paid what you’re worth. (Because you deserve it.)

4. Accountability and Prioritzing.

(or… “Help me stay on track.”)

Short-term tactical planning can be a difficult thing to do alone. Sometimes you’re so in the weeds, you’re just not sure about “what to do and in what order.”

I can help you set and prioritize your business goals so that you’re moving forward on the projects or pieces that are important to you, and keep you moving forward with regular meetings and tactical “homework” to keep you on track.

5. On-Call Voice of Experience.

(or… “I need a seasoned advisor on speed dial.”)

“Does this make sense?” “Am I crazy for thinking this?” are questions that every entrepreneur asks from time to time. (Truth be told, they’re common when considering the business idea itself!) The answer? Having a seasoned advisor at your complete disposal.

I can be your reality check, sounding board or objective voice of reason for your business ideas, projects and major decisions, bringing my experience and expertise to the conversations that will help you make your decisions with confidence. (I’ll also help put your ideas through their paces, looking for shortcomings and weaknesses that we can fix before you move to the execution stage.)

6. Pitches.

(or… “Tell me how to persuade investors.”)

Developing a successful pitch involves three parts: slide deck, script and presentation skills (eye contact, body language, speaking skills).

The secret to developing a successful pitch is telling a concise, compelling story — with slides that distill your message even further, keeping the attention on you, not your slides.

No matter what your industry or how technical your idea, I can help you create and edit your slide deck and script to make them both clear, compelling and persuasive. If you need an objective critique of your presentation skills and how to improve them, I can help with that too.

7. Bonus!

(or… “Copywriting and editing.”)

If you need your copy or content critiqued, tweaked or anything short of writing it from scratch, rest assured that I can help. Clients come to me to improve the quality of their blog posts, web pages, marketing material and more. (As a seasoned writer and published author, I feel your pain when it comes to writing or editing your own work.)

“I found Diane to be insightful, extremely knowledgeable and very patient in her responses to the many, many questions I posed to her as she helped us build our financial projections. Her input was invaluable.”

Charlie Smith

Master Distiller

Pricing & packages.

If you’d like to work with me, here’s how the pricing works:

You purchase however many hours you want of advising time with me. One per week? Cool. One now and another 3 months from now? Totally fine. A 2-hour chunk on a Tuesday? We can do that.

Whatever hours you purchase are yours to use however you choose. (You can use them any time over 18 months, so there’s no rush.)

This gives you the flexibility to choose how you want to spend your time, and work with me according to your budget.

My standard “batches of hours” pricing is $225 per hour, which works out to:

 2 hours for $450
 4 hours for $900
 6 hours for $1,350
 8 hours for $1,800
12 hours for $2,700

We can split the payments if that works out better for you — just let me know. Some clients like to get it all out of the way, others like to divide it into 2 or 3 chunks.

If you’re ready to buy a batch of hours, you can do so right here.

How to know how many hours to reserve.

How many hours do you need? It’s hard to say. Some long-term clients have started out booking two to four hours just to get a feel for what it’s like working together before they add more time later.

Other clients pick up a bigger block — 12 hours or more — so they can have a bank of time to use whenever they need it. Or in some cases, they want to lock in consulting time with me before they’re tempted to splurge on something they shouldn’t ;-)

That said, if you’re looking for creative solutions to tough problems, advice on doing what everyone is telling you is impossible, an objective voice of experience, figuring out if an idea will work or not, a sounding board or finding hope during a business crisis, you’ve come to the right place.

(It’s not therapy, but a lot of people say it’s therapeutic.)

Diane Tarshis, founder of Startup Distillery, an advisory firm for entrepreneurs.

If you’re interested in working together, let’s talk.

To get more details about working with me as your advisor, let’s have a conversation over the phone (or video) at your convenience.

You can call me directly at (773) 871-0110 or click here to book a time using my online calendar. I’ll get to know you and your business (or idea), and talk to you about how I can help.

Talk to you soon,

P.S. If you’re outside the US, you can email me for more options that work with your time zone :-)

From My Clients

“Diane knows her stuff! She helped us think through the details in every aspect of our business. Our video meetings always ended with clearly defined homework to keep the process moving.”

Rachel Wise

B. Wise Rehabilitation

“Diane took an overwhelming project and made it straightforward and manageable. She really helped me to focus.”

Fred Alsen

fma Interior Design

“As an independent artist, I’d been focusing solely on commercial commissions, but wanted to expand my offerings and diversify my sources of income.

Diane helped me organize and vet my business ideas, prioritize them, and break them down into actionable steps. Our work together helped me to transition from seeing myself as a freelancer to a business owner.”

Reina Takahashi

Reinasaur

Don’t be shy.

No harm in a phone call.

HQ

Chicago, Illinois