You must be able to share information in a trusting relationship.
Today, it doesn’t pay to lean too heavily on your own understanding
Most businesses require the services of advisors because of the changes taking place in the world of business. You can engage the services of an advisor to help you with technology, marketing, management, innovation and a host of other things including the basics of accounting and legal work.
Choosing an advisor is like establishing a new business partnership. The right advisor will become a trusted colleague you can depend on, one who offers specialised advice and guidance as your business grows.
You should choose advisors as soon as practical, based on the following criteria, never just because they are a friend or the first person you thought of. Why? Because they will have a bearing on your future prosperity.
So what are the top things you need to look out for? After you have created a shortlist of advisors, contact each of them and find out:
- What services do they can offer? Do they regularly deal with people in similar situations to you? If you have specific needs, make sure they have practical experience in that area. If not you may have to pay for a more specialised service. Keep in mind one advisor cannot be all things to all your requirements. Look carefully at what they specialise in before making a decision. This may not be important if you are happy with an online service. You should give consideration to supporting your local advisors, but only if they meet your main criteria and are able to grow personally as you grow.
- Customer service. Do they provide a good service? Make sure you respond to phone calls and emails promptly. You may also want them to be able to communicate in plain language, not jargon.
- Personality type. It is very important that you like the people you will be dealing with. They need to be able to communicate with you in a way you understand and like, otherwise it can become a real headache and you will be the loser.
- Types of software they use. Modern advisors often have their own preferred software to leverage their assistance. The chances are they have become used to one particular brand of software. If you can work on the same software there will be many benefits in cost and performance.
- Qualified. Are they a member of a professional association? (For example, Association of Professional Engineers, Certified Practicing Accountants,) If they are, they have to meet the standards of the Association. It also means you can complain to the association if you’re not happy with their work.
- Registered. If your advisor is going to do specialised services like your tax returns, then make sure they are a registered tax advisor with the taxation department.
- Fees and charges. What will you be charged, and when? You need to understand the mix of hourly rates and time it will take to do your work along with any other on costs associated with This may be difficult in some cases where there unknown circumstances that have to be overcome.
- Have you checked with some of their existing clients? Don’t be afraid to ask them to refer you to similar clients so you can make a more informed judgement about how they operate. You should be looking to ensure that they are reliable, practical, useful and helpful.
If you’re happy with the answers to all these questions, you can then feel reasonably confident about working with the advisor. Don’t leave it there put in place a written agreement or Service Level Agreement (SLA). At the very least have an exchange of letters.
Some advisors will do little more than the basics as specified, but the best advisors are more proactive. So before choosing an advisor, ask what they could suggest to save your business money and help you to make it grow.
How well will your business go without you?
You must be brutally honest with yourself as you ask these questions. Having good advisors in place can be critical if you suffer a setback like a major illness, or If you want to take an extended overseas business trip or holiday. They get to know the ropes and can manage your employees and volunteers.
“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts”. Albert Einstein
If you can answer these questions fully, you can start to build your business to where it does not require your constant involvement.
- Can I identify the things only you can do? There is usually only a very small number of tasks which you alone can and need to do?
- Where can others help you? While you will never disassociate yourself from your business completely, but can I build a team which can implement my vision, because I have trained them?
- How can I let people do their jobs without micromanaging them? Have I built a strong team and created clear objectives and strategies, give my team the freedom to get things done with the actions they see fit?
- Can I take an extended business trip or holiday? Do I really believe I must be there to make all the decisions or, do I have the right team in place to keep the business running in my absence?
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It’s not easy to entrust others to manage and build something you have created. However, it is necessary if you want the ability to pursue other interests and even have a holiday and generally enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
Businesses which grow well have one thing in common, the owners are comfortable letting the business run without their direct involvement in all its operations. It is always the time to make the needed changes.
Take the time to work out the numbers and make sure that your business can afford the time necessary to make crowdfunding work for your enterprise or new product.
In the meantime, focus on making sales first, appointing advisors second, or is it the other way around? A good rule of thumb is that you want to ‘avoid surprises’, which means you should be seeking the best advice you can find.