1.Â Identify your objectives: Some of the reasons or seasons when you may require the services of a business advisor may include market research and opportunity assessments, getting through a growth hump, attracting investment or securing financing, exploring new markets or preparing for sale or succession.
2.Â Get a referral: Everyone in business already has advisors in positions of trust. Your banker, your accountant and your lawyer no doubt have people in their networks â€“ or sometimes even within their organization â€“ who can help. Since he/she comes recommended by people already in your confidence, really pre-qualifies that advisor.
3.Â Do your homework: Once youâ€™ve narrowed the field to a few top choices, itâ€™s time to dig in and do the background checks (yes, even if they were referred). Visiting an advisorâ€™s website is a good place to start, but donâ€™t stop there. Check out his or her full profile on Linkedin, including recommendations and endorsements. Do a Google search; read online reviews. Call references.
4.Â Conduct an Interview: You are hiring this person. You are entering into a legal contract for services, and as such, you have a right, and a responsibility, to engage your potential advisor in an in-depth dialogue to determine fit before you sign on the dotted line. Some things to discuss:
â€“ Your business objective
â€“ Your expectations of the advisor
â€“ The advisorâ€™s expectations of you
â€“ The advisorâ€™s related experience and expertise
â€“ Timeframe and deadline requirements
â€“ The scope of the engagement
â€“ The advisorâ€™s personal and professional values and priorities
5.Â Never stop asking questions: Once the engagement commences, itâ€™s a mistake to think you can just go back to work while the consultant gets on with it. Remember the air traffic controller analogy; you and the advisors are partners in landing the plane. For full, long-lasting value, you need to be fully informed and have a solid understanding of the process at every step.
6.Â Trust your instincts: Often, business people do what they do because it is a passion, and extension of who they are. While you should never disregard or dismiss the counsel of your advisor, it should mesh with your core values and corporate culture and fit with your leadership style. In a phrase, the plan you and your advisor develop should feel right. If it doesnâ€™t, itâ€™s likely it will never be implemented.
7.Â Pay the money: Itâ€™s not about how much it costs; itâ€™s about the return on investment. A good advisor works diligently to mitigate risk and maximize value for your business; a practice that will ensure that the money you spend comes back to you with interest as your business is propelled forward.
8.Â Plan for a long-term relationship: Choose your advisor well, for competence, character and chemistry, because you are trusting this person with sensitive information about your business. There are only so many people on the planet you want in that inner circle. Once your advisor has earned your trust, stay in the relationship. That relationship can be of tremendous benefit to you throughout the life of your business.