Why Use a Business Adviser?

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Andrew Carnegie's life is a rags to riches story which resulted in Andrew becoming, at one time, the richest man in the world. An interesting anecdote is the epitaph on his gravestone. It reads: "Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the services of better men than himself." It didn't say "I became the richest man in the world because I can do everything myself". Nor did it say "Save costs and do it yourself".

More than likely, if you are running a small business and became an entrepreneur you did this to have more freedom over your personal and financial life. Now when I talk about freedom it is not freedom to take a vacation whenever you want, or to work from 8 until10 in the morning and then play golf. No, the freedom that we know as the goal of the entrepreneur is to operate independently, take risks, and make your own decisions. The reward for accepting the freedom of your own business is profit and growth.

However, many business owners take the philosophy of freedom too far and adopt the attitude of "I'll do it all myself!" Not only can't you do it all, it's often a bad move financially. Business owners should focus their attention on what they do best and what actions generate the most ROI. These can be sales, product development, or any other discipline. You go to a doctor when you are not feeling well, take your car to a mechanic for repairs, so why not do the same for your business? Is there one professional sports team without a specialized coaching staff? Here are some examples: Football has the linebacker coach, baseball has the hitting coach, and basketball has the free throw coach.

Successful business owners can admit two things: they do not handle tasks others can take care of at a cheaper hourly rate and contract workers do not come with the legal and tax requirements of employees. And now that health care is going to be required for all employees, contract workers look even more desirable.

So why should you hire a business adviser to bring value to your business? Here are 12 benefits that an adviser can provide when you decide to grow, turnaround, or change your business:

  1. To bring temporary or on-going expertise that supplements, not supplants your staff.
  2. To help with a special need; to do the specialized work.
  3. To obtain expertise that you don't have and to deliver quality that you might otherwise not be able to afford to hire.
  4. To provide confidentiality or to inject an objective voice.
  5. To bring in the "outside expert". Sometimes leadership perceives that it's only the opinion of "the expert" that counts.
  6. To see the situation through fresh, disinterested eyes, without the filters and preconceived notions that internal people may have.
  7. To gain efficiency: A small business owner can:
    1. ask a staff person to do something they don't have time to do,
    2. hire a mediocre full-time person at a salary below the level of an experienced expert, or
    3. hire an experienced business adviser.
  8. To enable all staff and volunteers to fully participate in a process such as strategic planning, without one of them having to wear a facilitator's or coordinator's hat too.
  9. To achieve the efficiency of having an expert for a short period of time. Most organizations have needs that require specialized skills, but which are not sufficient in scope to justify a full-time employee.
  10. To get the job done efficiently.  A business adviser, guided by expertise and experience, is more likely to get the job done right the first time.
  11. To model and offer learning - something that a staff person may not be able to do as freely just because of perceived power issues, hierarchical constraints, etc.
  12. To ask the right questions.

From the start of your business, or for an established business, begin today to build relationships with other professionals who can handle the parts of your business that you don't have the time, experience, or knowledge for. Employees play a critical part in these relationships but contractors and vendors also need to be part of your team. Quick fixes do not address the underlying issues that prevent a business from growing. They usually end up being more costly than hiring an outside person with a specific expertise who can tackle your business  problem and provide cost efficient, doable solutions.

Maybe you want to go one step further and form an advisory board to help guide your business. It would meet quarterly and each discipline would interact with you, the owner. Your accountant, attorney, general business adviser, and banker, all might be members.

The cost of hiring a professional is an investment in your business. You want to build a professional team of employees, vendors, and contract workers. Select wisely; choose people you trust to guide you through important decisions and to provide the direction you need to achieve your personal and business goals.

Remember, a business adviser can bring ideas to their clients based on their area of expertise, share insights, new trends, provide customers with creative solutions and implement the solutions that they are suggesting. Most also have a network of professionals in other areas of business operations that they can call upon for more in depth solutions.

In today's ever-changing business climate, with competition getting more predatory, and the need for your business to be constantly selling something, it is no time to go it alone.

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