Getting the Right Advice  (Lesson 10)


A business advisor you can’t work with is going to be more of a drawback than a help, so it’s important to get it right. I’d recommend spending some time getting to know a prospective advisor before bringing them on board. The sort of professional you’re looking for will expect this and be happy to spend some time discussing any points you have.

There are a lot of people out there marketing themselves as business advisors, and the problem is that many of them have theoretical knowledge without the depth of real-world experience to back it up. You need someone who doesn’t need to open a book when confronted with a new situation. Business can be complex, and only experience can help you chart the right course towards your goal.

Here’s an example. A while ago I worked with a company during a very complex phase of their growth. Over three and a half years I helped them acquire another company and launch a start-up in a new market sector. That meant keeping a lot of plates in the air, and without my decades of experience I’d have found it pretty tricky.

On another occasion I was asked to help a manufacturing company that was growing rapidly. They had masses of enthusiasm and talent, and had done a great job of launching themselves and building up a customer base – but they’d reached a size where it was getting too complicated for them, and they were smart enough to realise that. When I got involved I found myself having to rapidly build or reorganise six separate departments, including accounts, HR and marketing.

It’s the complexity of doing business that persuades many growing businesses to bring in an advisor. It’s possible to succeed on your own – you got this far, after all – but it’s much harder work than it needs to be. Along the way you’ll make a lot of mistakes, just because you’re facing situations you haven’t encountered before. You’ll survive them, but they’ll cost you money and add to the time it takes to achieve your goals.

Taking on a professional advisor is just the same as hiring any other specialist – it’s an investment in your business. You’re giving yourself access to a wealth of experience and specialist knowledge that will smooth your path, identify issues before they become urgent, and let you leverage the assets you already have.

To your success,