We seek out a professional to get a yearly physical to monitor our well-being, catch early signs of disease, and discuss what changes need to be made to remain healthy. If only our businesses were so lucky!
Hiring a professional is a smart business move. No matter the level of your experience, it is undoubtedly smart business to bring in a professional business advisor at some point in the life of your business. A business advisor will objectively assess the health of your business and help you to ascertain any areas that hold your business back as well as identify those that can build the business. Your advisor can provide you with the training to meet your goals. He or she can coach and work with you in order to help you to execute your plan, correct deficiencies, seize opportunities, and increase your chances of success. He or she can help your business to thrive.
At what point should you bring in a business advisor? Anytime, and preferably before you are in dire need of help. A business advisor can help a start-up to create a business plan, create business support systems, execute a marketing plan, secure financing, or any number of business tasks. An advisor can help more established businesses to change course to take advantage of industry trends, reorganize or retrain to achieve sales goals, reduce expenditures, improve communications, hire skilled employees, create new production processes, improve customer service and quality, and address any other business needs. Managers or owners can take advantage of an advisor’s training on leadership and organizational development. For those who have purchased a business, an advisor can help smooth the transition in management. Family businesses may need an advisor to objectively help them pass down the business from one generation to the next. Sometimes, it’s simply a smart move to use an advisor as a sounding board, an objective “third party,” to help you make decisions or choose initiatives.
Whatever the situation, understand your business and its needs. Although advisors can help identify needs, before you seek out the help of an advisor, it is helpful to understand what you need. Do you need management training, help in recovering receivables, introducing a new product to the marketplace, employee retention, business expansion, financial restructuring, or funding? Are you looking for an advisor solely for ideas, information, training, or advisory support? Or do you require an advisor who can be hands-on and who will implement changes? Be prepared to speak with an advisor frankly about your situation and have a handle on where your business is now — and where you would like it to go.
Hire an advisor who can meet your needs. The best place to start looking for an advisor is to ask for referrals from business associates. When seeking referrals, ask questions which can yield more information to help you make a decision. How versatile and how good a listener was their advisor? What strengths and weaknesses did the advisor bring to the table? What type of experience or advice did the advisor provide that proved invaluable? Were specific goals set and attained?