Important Questions You Need to Ask on, ‘Choosing a Good Business Advisor’
Before I discuss this subject we need to look at why you need to arm yourself with questions before seeking an advisor.
Before we look at that I need to give you my own background so you know this advice is creditable.
I have owned multiple businesses for 27 years and have been professionally mentoring business owners 1 on 1 since 1997. I have designed, marketed and presented comprehensive business development and management seminars and workshops with thousands of businesses for over 11 years. I have personally mentored and trained hundreds of business coaches as well as a Master Franchisor in the training and recruitment of business coaches.
Now in regards to obtaining a business advisor; in business there is an unlimited amount to know and always will be. A wise man once said, ‘there are things that you know, things that you realise you don’t know (so you’ve become aware you don’t fully know all about a subject) and what you don’t know you don’t know’.
The danger when choosing someone to advise you is you may be in the category of ‘not knowing what you don’t know’.
Being in this category is the real danger as you don’t know any knowledge on the subject so you can be taken advantage of by anyone.
My first advice on choosing a good business advisor is to first of all be clear of what you want by researching more.
If you know what you don’t know then you know the questions to ask to get your answers. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t even know where to begin, or even what questions you need to start with.
Questions generally come before answers and the advisor you end up with will be part of the answers you receive. So you choose the quality of your advisor based on the quality of the questions you ask them.
The questions therefore become the answer and determine the quality of your advisor. You might find a great advisor that suits your situation or you may not and lose time and money.
To find the right advisor you need someone to give you the answers, i.e. an advisor on obtaining an advisor, hence the purpose of this article.
Your questions need to be relevant to the subject matter so in this case I am going to assume it’s about receiving general business advice on how to grow your business. The outcome you want determines the questions so keep this in mind with your own questions.
You can use the structure of these questions when looking for a consultant or help with other areas of your business like for example printing or a new website design.
These questions are basic introductory ones, so be prepared to expand on the answers you receive with more questions.
- Have you worked with a business owner in the same or similar industry to my business?
- How many years have you been in the business advising industry? What were you doing before that?
- How many years have you owned your own business?
- How many staff have you had to manage and lead?
- What’s your understanding on Profit & Loss Statements as well as sales, marketing and recruitment? Do you advice in all these areas or specific subjects only?
- What specific results have you already achieved? How do you measure your results with clients?
- Can you provide referees by way of clients you have advised who can be contacted about your work with them?
- What supporting material, systems or digital tools do you give as part of your advice? Do you provide templates or pre-designed spreadsheets, documents, systems, manuals, audio or video education tools or is your service primarily intangible by verbal communication and some email support?
- How long will it take for results to be seen from your assistance?
- How do you work with people, by phone only, face to face initially then phone, or by phone only?
- Can I see your service or supply agreement? What’s included and not included in the service?
- On what grounds can someone terminate the relationship or is there a lock in contact term?
From these questions you need to read between the lines. Is the advisor happy and patient in response to your questions? If they seem offended, defensive or impatient or pushy in response, beware.
Top advisors in their field have compassion for people and understand they have a lack of knowledge whereas less experienced advisors may feel you are questioning their authority and expertise and you will see that by their tone in response to your questions.
Be prepared with your questions before you speak to an advisor. Do not go in unprepared without your carefully thought out questions.
Questions come before answers to knowing the questions is how you find your answers. Beginning with the end in mind and working backwards to the questions is a great principle.
In summary the key to successfully finding a great business advisor or other supplier is to ‘know what you don’t know’ so you can ask questions to learn more.