The majority of business owner/managers are self confident and may appear to have a broad range of skills that have been developed during the time of owning and managing their business. The idea of using a Business Advisor/Coach is a no-no as it implies that they do not have ability to solve their business problems on their own. However, in the current market the pressures of keeping ones head above water are increasing. Taking on some expert help, on a temporary basis, may be a wise course of action but before committing to that step there are some questions to ask yourself.
Are you dealing with a true Business Advisor?
You will need to satisfy yourself that the person appointed is committed to having a portfolio of businesses with which to work and has experience of working in a number of businesses simultaneously. Someone who has recently come out of a public or corporate environment may be very expert in a particular area but will not have the experience of working in the SME environment. They may well struggle with juggling multiple contracts, part time working and irregular cash flows. Such a person may find it difficult to be sufficiently flexible to work in a number of different environments and structures with which they are unfamiliar. Furthermore they might have difficulty in getting up to speed quickly. Ideally you should look for someone who has successfully owned managed and probably exited from their own business.
Will they fit in?
Make sure that the individual has a good fit with the culture of your business and your management team. Whilst the Business Advisor may not get involved in the day to day politics of the business there must be a fit in terms of outlook, style and working practices. Remember that the Business Advisor is working for you as the business owner and it is essential that a good rapport should exist between the two parties. Managing a business, in the current environment particularly, is stressful and building a solid personal relationship is very important if the inevitable challenges are to be overcome.
What are they going to do?
You together with the Business Advisor will need to define the tasks to be carried out and time spent at the outset of the appointment will pay dividends. However, a good Business Advisor will be able to identify and clearly illustrate other areas within the business where deficiencies have been identified whilst undertaking the primary task. In defining the tasks it must be bourne in mind that the Business Advisor is part-time.
Two way communications is essential
Having good communication channels that enable any issues to be identified as early as possible are essential, but the Business Advisor is not in the office on a full time basis and therefore needs to be able to communicate effectively with the whole of the team. Ineffective communications can have a detrimental effect on completion of the tasks and can lead to apparently minor problems festering and building. The consequential loss of time in dealing with issues is damaging to the relationship and will reduce the added-value in the appointment. Regular update meetings will ensure that everything stays on track.
Amongst the main reasons why a Business Advisor can be a useful addition to management team are:-
• Experience and expertise – Some Business Advisors will have owned and managed SME’s during their business life and will have knowledge of the loneliness of being an Owner/Manager. They will have hands-on experience of industry sectors and be able to address specific skill gaps bringing best practice to bear; furthermore they are can be productive from the start of the appointment.
• Reputation -Important sources of work for Business Advisors are referrals, case studies and client testimonials, consequently the successful completion of any assignment undertaken is of great importance.
• Focus – The Business Advisor is engaged to deliver a piece of work, a service or a solution. The success in attaining the goals and objectives will trigger payment of the fees. The path to a successful outcome will have milestones that are agreed at the outset of the appointment.
• Speed – Most experienced Business Advisors are used to joining new organisations and are therefore able to make a contribution almost immediately.
• Objectivity – Because the Business Advisor is able to focus only on delivering an outcome they are not loaded down with the politics and the career aspirations of an organisations employees. Their previous experience will also enable them to bring a fresh pair of eyes and hence perspective to the business. Results are easily measured against the objectives and milestones set at the commencement of the assignment.
Appointing a Business Advisor needs careful thought and choosing the right person for your organisation both in terms of the job to be done and fitting in to the culture is paramount. Remember that the person appointed must be someone with whom you are comfortable and can trust to be objective and on-call when needed. Together you must define the scope of the work, set the milestones and the communication channels. The benefit to the business will be the provision of needed expertise and experience in an affordable way. Such an appointment will normally add significant value and enable the business to continue to succeed.
The Business Advisor/Coaches in Southern Group Business Advisors Ltd. are prepared to provide a two hour consultation free of charge and without any obligation, so what have you got to lose? Visit www.sgba.co.uk to register your interest. Alternatively contact by e-mail email@example.com or telephone 01293 822521.