Who Needs a Business Advisor?

Question: As an individual business owner why would I need a business advisor? Isn't this just an additional expense for someone like me? What does SCORE think about the necessity of having an advisor for a one-person business?

Answer: The straightforward response to the seemingly complex question of "Who needs a business advisor?" is ... everyone responsible for operating a business. That's right. All businesses, from the Fortune 50 CEO to the one-person operation, need an advisor. The larger questions are why this is important and how to choose an advisor wisely.

The CEO of a public company has mentors as well as a board of directors to turn to. Often they don't have a choice of who their advisors are but small business owners do. Unfortunately, small business owners often choose to not get any help at all.

All too often this is the cause of the business failure statistics we hear so much about. The small business owner will claim they either don't have the time or the money for an advisor. How can you not have the money to get help from someone that can potentially save or make you more money since you obviously are not getting it done on your own? Or how about that time you are lacking? Maybe if that owner sat down for an hour with an advisor, they would be able to see why they don't have time and then do something about it with the help of someone who has already been there.

Working with an advisor can be a very enlightening experience. You will start to see the forest from the trees and not feel like you are the only person on the planet going through tough times. And with an advisor, this gives you a sounding board and a board of directors to turn to for advice. These are two great resources.

Actually, small to mid-sized business owners receive greater benefits from an advisor than big businesses. Many of the tasks small business owners juggle take time away from things that need to be a priority in order for their company to succeed. And - that's a problem.

The question now is how to find the right advisor. Some are purely "coaches" and others are true developers and implementers that will roll up their sleeves with you. It's up to you to pick the type of person you want or need. Here are some things to consider:

• Do your personalities mesh? If not, don't bother with them because you will end up fighting even when you agree on the advice.

• Have they owned a small business before? Large corporation managers know little about successfully operating a small business. These are two significantly different worlds.

• Don't worry if a potential advisor doesn't know your specific industry. Many of your issues have nothing to do with your industry. However, if the advisor has contacts and resources in your industry this would help address specific problems.

• Look for flexibility. A potential advisor that pushes for more than 20 hours a month of your time is probably out for money. Until they work with you, there is no way of knowing what is needed to meet your goals.

• Make it a local thing. There are plenty of local advisors for every company in your area.

Once you make the intelligent decision to get help you should commit to working with your advisor for a good 6 months. Nothing happens overnight so be open to suggestions and make the use of time with your advisor a priority. Remember an advisor or coach should never make a decision for you; they are there to make suggestions and guide you.

Do yourself and your company a good service and become a truly successful business owner. Get an advisor and get all you can out of them. If your advisor loves what he/she does for a living as much as you love what you do, you can't go wrong. SCORE provides FREE business mentors. Sign up for one today. Go to http://northernarizona.score.org/localworkshops. Questions? Call Richard Eason at 928-778-7438 email: scoreoffice@scorenaz.org

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