On a more positive note, here are some signs that your chosen business adviser is the right one for your smaller business:
- Substance, Not Show: Flashy offices and expensive cars cost money, and someone has to pay for that. Choose advisers who focus more on doing good work to help you with your Business Review rather than on boosting their ego.
- Thought Leadership: A great business adviser will think conceptually, and be prepared to develop and share their insights both through their collateral (eg on their website, or through their social media and newsletters) or while advising you.
- Qualifications + Hands On Experience: There are some accreditations and memberships that are really practical, eg in accounting, governance or law, but unfortunately many MBAs think that they are “better” than smaller business owners or leaders. Also seek out consultants who have run their own business, as owners and / or leaders, and can draw on a wide variety of roles and industry experience. Ask them about what they have learned from their own mistakes – because if they don’t think that they’ve made any they won’t be much help with your business review, which will almost certainly reveal areas requiring improvement.
- Strategic Frameworks: The best advisers apply consistent approaches to their work, to maximise quality and efficiency. Flexibility can be helpful, but “winging it” isn’t. Here is an example of how our strategic framework is the foundation of our Business Health Checks.
- Value: No good business adviser will recommend discounting as a permanent strategy. If you get a cheap rate, ask why to ensure that you aren’t losing quality. A self-respecting business adviser who protects his or her own fees is more likely to give you commercially sound advice.
- Plain Speaking: Jargon is sometimes helpful, and occasionally unavoidable, but a really good business adviser will avoid it whenever practical when they help you with your Business Review.
- Assessments + Follow Up Consultations: Assessments aid consistency and provide structure and reduce service costs, and most business owners and leaders will learn a lot just be completing a good one. However, they are best complemented by a follow up consultation process that allows the client and the adviser to learn about each other’s world in a more open way.
In our final post, we answer the “bottom line” question – how can your small business afford a Business Review ?