What makes a good business advisor?
What makes a good business advisor?
31st July 2023, 10:13 am
We’ve all used many different types of professional advisors for our businesses and sometimes for our personal lives: lawyers, accountants, corporate finance advisors, surveyors and many more. So- when was the last time you considered what makes a good business advisor?
- Are they calm in a crisis? They are genuinely able to adopt the ‘swan’ technique. When the worst happens, they are perfectly able to listen, take in the facts, provide reassurance to others around them whilst (internally) furiously processing all of the available possible next steps, weighing up the pros and cons of each and- crucially- coming up with a plan. Even in the high stakes situations, they’re prepared to stick their neck out and advise on what you should do to navigate the crisis.
- Can they be empathetic? For someone to provide you and your business with good advice, they need to be able to try on your shoes and walk around in them for a bit. A view from a complete ‘outsider’ who is giving you their perspective on what should happen next based on theory is no use to anyone. Sometimes life doesn’t pan out in a way which has been analysed and assessed in a textbook beforehand. Sometimes you have no reference point and you have to go with what your instinct tells you. For the instinct to kick in, your advisor needs to feel the panic/ anger/ elation you feel when something happens in your business. It’s hard to know how to describe this one- but when you have a good advisor, you know it- they ‘get it’.
- No ego? A good advisor is someone who is most interested in what happens to you and your business and isn’t signing you up as a client purely to feather their own nest. The best advisors often have a long list of existing clients and a long call back list. They’ve decided to work with their clients for a reason. You should ask: is this person advising me and my business purely so they can raise a bill at the end of the month? Or is there some other connection between us? Do they have a genuine interest in me, my business or do they have a passion for the sector I’m in? There are some advisors out there who have three priorities: (1) themselves; (2) their profile; and (3) their bill. With the client coming a (not so) close fourth. This sort of approach is easy to spot if you think about it: are they available when you need them to be? Are they really listening to you or are they usually too quick to give you their opinion? When was the last time they suggested something helpful you didn’t actually ask them for? I’ve worked with some exceptional advisors over the years who’ve often thought of things I should be doing for my business before I get chance to think of it myself. That’s when an advisor becomes really important in your business.
- Do they make you feel stupid? It might sound a strange thing to say but if I get sent an email from a professional advisor and I have to call them and ask them to explain what they mean, then they’ve failed. Gone are the days when lawyers and other professional advisors took pride in sending complex letters which would reassure clients they must be an extremely intelligent expert because they’ve written something which is impossible to understand! Sometimes there are complex situations to run through with clients and it’s so important that your advisor creates an environment where you feel you can ask any questions you want to without feeling intimidated.
Working with founders, CEOs and other business leaders, I know that your business is one of the most important things in your life. You give it all of your available time and so any time spent with a poor advisor is wasted time. Take some time to choose the right advisors, ask for recommendations and spend some time getting to know them. Having the right advisors around you can be the difference between success and failure.
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