Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted!
It is not easy being an entrepreneur. Starting an entirely new type of business is never easy. If you are in a startup mode, you often must turn out a product or service, make the sales calls, run the books and at the same time ensure that you are following your business plan. Often you don’t have people in the organization to help you reflect on this plan; think about the business, and bounce ideas off.
Getting the right advice is not easy
Where to go to get advice is a tough question? Unless you have a partner or a gifted staff member, where do you go?
Perhaps you like to talk with friends and your significant other. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. (I have been very fortunate because my wife is a business person and understands what I am saying, how I feel, and helps me sort through issues.)
Even that is not enough.
I was very fortunate to start a company, build it over 20 years and sell it for a lot of money. As successful as it all turned out, there were times where I felt like I was on a high wire without a safety net.
Do you have a safety net yet?
Who did I turn too, and could my experiences help you find your safety net team? I used my professionals — my accountants and my attorneys. Why? I thought I had selected these specialists well and understood that they had a wealth of knowledge and experience. They were problem solvers. Just what I needed.! And sure, I realized that I was paying for that advice, but it is well worth it. Remember, in most cases, you pay for what you get.
Selection criteria: For which type of advisers should you be looking?
Here is what I was looking for when I went searching for professionals:
1. Experience. Nothing beats it. Your professionals should have done it and seen it all. They are experts in their field and can explain the options and/or solution in plain and straightforward language. They could lay out the issue(s). They should be impartial enough to provide the pluses and minuses. While it is your decision, their perspectives can help you make the decision that could have both short-term and long-range implications.
2. Reasonable fees. I can’t give you a number for reasonable costs. Everyone has their tolerance. You are going to have to look around and make some wise decisions based upon your gut instincts and your smarts. Your tolerance level will help you determine if the rate is too high or, for that matter, too low. Remember you want to use these professionals for, as yet, those undefined tasks and you don’t want to restrict time or access because the hours are ticking away.
3. Available time. If you are hiring a professional, you want them to be available when you need them. If they aren’t, even if they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, it is not going to work. You want someone who has the time to understand your business and help in the decision-making process, not just to practice their trade. You will know whether they are right for you when you make that first call to discuss an issue with them.
4. How do they make you feel? If you are going to spill your guts to someone or some professional, how comfortable are you with them? Talking to people can be ego deflating so the real question becomes: can I trust them so I can discuss all my issues and concerns with them?
5. Commitment to your success. Are they committed to your success? While it is nice to have an impartial arbitrator of the truth, you want someone who is going to dig deep into his or her “gut” to find the solutions that will work for you!
Where do you start looking for this type of support?
It is not easy if you are an early-stage, entrepreneurial startup or have never built a company before. Perhaps you might consider talking to friends, family and third-party resources for referrals. These people will allow you to begin to put together a referral network and develop a list of potential candidates to become your advisory team. But family, as you know, is family. They may be a great resource, or just second guessers trying to fit you into their model of what is the right way to do things.
Yet, I doubt you want to reject their help. I would also suggest putting together a list of questions that you have been thinking about to ask them and to gain advice from them. In addition, ask these questions when you are interviewing any candidate since their responses could go a long way in helping you make the right choice in the selection process. These questions could include industry experience, category experience, time availability and fees. Most of all, look for someone who has the balance between kind caring and sharp insights.
Selecting an advisory team is an essential part of your entrepreneurial growth.
As you begin to grow your company, try to table your ego. Make sure you are not so sure of your ideas and capabilities that you cannot hear good insights from others. You don’t ever feel that you must do what others are suggesting. However, neither do you have to go it all alone. Listen as if you are building an idea bank in your mind, It will serve you well as you move forward solving new problems and considering various business development options.
It is never easy, and I always thought that I was very fortunate. I found my success was in part the result of the talent I had to confer with every time I was thinking out loud about a problem or an opportunity. I was able to turn to my professionals, a great mix of smart attorneys and accountants. They provided exceptional “value-add” for my business. I turned to them for both their technical skills as well as their skills in dissecting complex business issues which provided real value-add.
Remember: Pick your professionals wisely since they could be great resources supporting you on your journey. On that subject, you might find our e-book primer is just what you need. Download it here:
And for a better process for developing your entepreneurial venture, check our 6-Step Process for Entrepreneurs.
For more on finding big ideas, take a look at these blogs:
- What Will it Take to be an Entrepreneur by Desire
- Entrepreneurs: Focus On Unmet Needs Through Visual Exploration
Ready to get something started?
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we specialize in helping entrepreneurial startups as well as established companies develop a business strategy, realign their company culture, launch their venture, capture customers and grow market share. Perhaps we can help you with your business? Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
From Observation to Innovation,
Partner, Simon Associates Management Consultants
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