We all want it and need it, but as small to medium-sized business owners we may need it most of all, but are more likely to steer clear of it.
The fact is all of us, regardless of what you do for a living, have some level of expertise on that topic. You don’t have to look far for evidence of this – there are columnists whose opinion matters; reality TV shows where we see individuals sing to the best of their ability or perform some talent; in social media blogs like this one, or FaceBook posts or LinkedIn profiles, and even how-to videos on YouTube – we find experts. For business owners, there are expert associations, Boards of Trade, or peer advisory boards like The Alternative Board. There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of experts giving advice on everything from soup to nuts.
Do you really need an advisor?
Unless you really do know everything, then yes, you do need an advisor. From Prime Ministers to the Queen of England, we all need to consult with a person we feel knows more than we do on a certain topic, or can at the very least, offer us insights and a good ear for us to walk through an approach or plan we’ve been considering. As business owners, we all need help to strengthen an area of our business whether that is marketing, employment hiring practices, or operations and management.
Having an advisor is NOT admitting defeat, it’s substantiating your value: knowing what you do well at and what you want to improve on are two of the pillars of success.
How do you find the right advisor for your business?
The answer to this question is found by asking yourself a few pointed questions: what do you need advice on? How would that advice help you in your business and what do you expect this advisor to do for you?
Once you are clear on exactly what you need, how it will help and what you want as a result, you are ready to hire your advisor. Here are a few tips to help you in your search.
- Start with some research both on and offline. Ask your fellow business owners if they have advisors; search the blogs, FaceBook and LinkedIn on the advice topic you are seeking. e.g. small business peer advisory
- Narrow down your list to the top 3 and then contact them to see their response times, style, and general “fit”
- Once you’ve made contact, meet with them. Much like a job interview, go prepared with questions you have about their experience, other similar clients, success stories, and if applicable, their training and education. If this is a Board of Trade, you can go to one of their scheduled meetings.
- During this meeting you should determine if the personality is a good fit for you. An advisor needs to understand you and be able to identify with you and your needs. Make sure they do.
- After you’ve met with all three, you might want to ask them to send you a quote on how they feel they can help you and how much it will cost. For Boards of Trade, you will need to look at the annual or monthly dues and time commitment.
As a marketing advisor, a few years ago I was looking for a business advisor; someone who could help me keep my business on track and provide advice and guidance as business issues came up like: what my bookkeeper should take care of, do I need a noncompeting agreement for my staff; what is the protocol for employee incentives and so much more. I found TAB, a peer advisory board of individual business owners like myself who meet on a regular basis to help each other in our businesses. I also have one-on-one coaching sessions. It was not what I was looking for but it’s a thousand times better than what I could have even imagined.
This experience has taught me something so critical – we all need help and there is literally someone for everyone.
Do you have an advisor? Can you share your story?