They do what they are good at, while you do what you are good at.
Know what success means to you
Just as there is no universal definition of success in life, there is no one benchmark for success in being a business advisor. The best thing is to know what you want to achieve in the long-term and start aligning everything you do towards it. Remember you will have fewer hours to devote to running your business.
- Secret: Simple communications are best. It is important to have simple communication with no ‘buzz’ words and using language the client will understand. Keep it simple, be brief, but be decisive. Talking too much is a big danger, you don’t want people to think you are rambling on.
- Secret: Move your ‘free line’. This means giving more free information and help. It gives clients a better appreciation of what you have to offer and it gives them more confidence to get involves with you, the more they get to know from you.
- Secret: To get clients, demonstrate results. The best ways to win clients over to thinking you know your stuff is to teach them something that will help solve a problem or help them make the changes they are looking for. Demonstrate that you know what they are going through, by having some marketing collateral that addresses their problems, frustrations, wants and needs.
- Secret: Learn to be observant. Don’t get bogged down with incidental details in the process, you miss too many things. Delegate more things to an assistant and stand back more. Observation is important in order to make sure that the quality is high and that participants get out of your sessions what you and the client want. You must stay firmly in control of the relationship and focus on the client’s outcomes.
- Secret: Set up a client base. Allocate time in your diary for three or four free client sessions per week and then fill those time slots until you have a full case load. Give each prospective client one free session, using a proven process that gets the client to experience and see the enormous value of your facilitation e.g. it may be a simple ‘business health check’, that you use. During the session, you want the client to open up, start to trust you and see how you will solve their frustrations and problems and help them achieve their goals.
“If you are passionate about people achieving their goals, they will choose you over the less passionate competition”. Don Connelly
- Secret: Use your imagination. When people ask you to solve their problem, you may not be able to identify a perfect solution from your experiences. When this happens you have two choices. Start using your imagination about the process you would use, or you simply tell the client you don’t know, but you will get back to them quickly. Clients never expect you to know everything, but they do expect you to come up with the answers.
- Secret: Understand planning. Understanding Business Models, Business Planning, Value Chains, Budgets, Risk Management and Succession Planning are all fundamental to being a good advisor.
- Secret: Motivation versus intelligence. While intelligence is important, enthusiasm and the ability to motivate people into action are critical. No actions taken, no outcomes achieved.
- Secret: Use simple steps to win clients. You can build your entire facilitation practice by:
- Prospective clients somehow hear about you from one source or another.
- Have a free introductory session with the prospective client, a great value showing them how you will help them remove their frustrations, solve their problems, or address their wants and needs.
- Show them how to engage your services.
- Secret: Be patient and keep persevering. You need perseverance because facilitation today is not an easy job with clients being more aware and more informed, than ever before. If you lack this quality, it will show and that will affect the outcomes. So, you have to have the ‘fire in the belly’, be ready and persistently let your passion for the work come out.
- Secret: Find a promising niche. Generalists, as opposed to specialists, face a daunting uphill climb. If you are not willing to specialise, to become the best and to own your little niche, you are likely going to struggle. Research your prospective niche from every angle and be sure the niche actually wants your services. You need a hungry market ready to pay and you need to be able to reach them relatively quickly and easily.
- Secret: Be prepared. Always be on time for appointments and well prepared. Nothing will infuriate a new client more than someone being late and someone who is obviously not well prepared for the meeting. Do your homework and research well and desired outcomes will come much easier. Clients want to get to work quickly and to solve their problem, not wait for you to shuffle your papers.
- Secret: Pick your clients well. If a client has discipline, respects for their colleagues and works in a serious way, good outcomes can be achieved in the long run. It’s your system and the way you work which allows you to win on a continuous basis, but you must enjoy working with the clients you choose. You win by being adaptable, remaining focused on the issues at hand and determined to get desired outcomes. Your success depends a lot on the type of people you are dealing with and the values they have. If you can work with fast, strong-minded clients, you need the ability to adopt different approaches, while still maintaining your personal style.
- Secret: Real, imaginary or a symptom. When working with clients these things become important. Is the issue real, imagined by the client or is it a symptom of something bigger. Sometimes you may even have to uncover the client’s secrets and be ready for surprises.
- Secret: Think like an entrepreneur. By all means, get your skills and confidence level up, but if you want to really succeed, you’ve got to quickly transition from a training approach to a business-building approach and adopt the skills and attributes of an entrepreneur.
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The important thing is not just becoming a good advisor, but remaining one by keeping up with trends and issues in your chosen field.
After working in bothe the business broking and finance broking industries, I have come to appreciate just how important it is to have good information ad a knowledge of how businesses and non-profits work. They work quite differently to large business and corporations. Just because you have had a large business or government experience doesn’t mean you will know how to deal with and SME.
You should make every effort to, attend seminars, conferences and read, and review the latest trends and issues the SMEs are facing in order to be able to hone in on their problems, frustrations, wants and needs.