They are kinda like a coach and partner. They can motivate and steer you. If they have been in your industry, you benefit from their already making mistakes you would make without them.
You have to decide whether to pay them in equity which means they make money if you are successful or hourly. If you can't think of them as partners, it probably isn't going to work.
Most are hourly or on monthly or yearly retainer. They may ask for a nonrefundable deposit prior to meeting to lock in the time (to meet with you as time is their product).
SCORE and the US SBA (1) provide free general information (2) certify your readiness for funding (3) provide funding sources, regulations, and application processes.
SMALL BUSINESS ADVISORS (1) create, implement, execute, and adapt the business plan to competitive challenges (2) create, implement, and execute the deck plan (3) provide other business and management services that grow and expand business in domestic and foreign markets (4) negotiate fees and/or installment payment arrangements.
Many people who provided answer here are good advisors and can help you. Somethings you may consider:
1) contact the advisors here by google hangout, skype or any communication tools - to discuss further
2) contact advisors around your area
3) look for evaluation template, tools or others to evaluate the advisors objectively.
4) select one for help.
"Even Tiger Wood needs advisor" , this phase is used many times and still valid. it is not just small business need advisor, but everyone need advisor. Getting a very good advisor will save your life.
Normally, I prefer a small business advisor to be a very experienced and all rounded person with multiple disciples. Yes, this may means very costly, but advisors at this level normally have high pride and your investment normally gain much more higher return. If you decided to choose less qualified advisor at lower cost, there is a very high risk that you will not able to get what you want and all your investment will down to the drain.
I'm going to give you a different solution. If you are a small business and are looking to grow your business find a business owner in your area that does the exact some business that is successful. It might take you a few phone calls to get the right person, but find an owner you can take out to lunch to ask them about their business, their challenges and successes.
Now here is the key, if you go to this lunch as his competitor then you wouldn't be able to get much information. But if you look how real business is run in today's world and go to the lunch with a co-operative approach that you want to work with him to build the industry. You are not looking to take their clients but to get clients for both of you. Then you can pattern up and they will be more open to working with you. You have to stand by this as well, I have seen to many people screw each other over and it's not pretty.
Now the approaches I am recommending is a new way of doing business and for most people. Most people don't realize big businesses have been doing this behind close doors for decades. Companies who we would thing are direct competitors have mastermind groups they meet up with and talk about industry trends...etc
For you this could mean joint marketing efforts, sharing suppliers, the list goes on and on.
Remember business advisors are great, but someone who has done it can tell you their real life experience from being in the trenches and if done correctly can be a WIN/WIN/WIN for everyone.
That is my advise,
Best of luck Tony
Hi, Tony. As an advisor to businesses of all sizes, I can tell you one of the main benefits of having an advisor is that you have someone you can go to that can help you reach the goals you want to achieve in your business.
A good advisor will have knowledge and contacts that you may not have, which you can tap into. They will also be honest with you, and can provide you with an objective view of your business. Above all else, a good business advisor will have only your best interests in mind when working with you and planning the steps to take that will help to grow your business. They genuinely want to see you succeed.
As for fees, all projects are different. The advisor should be able to talk with you, determine what your needs are, and the two of you should be able to work out an arrangement that suits both of you, based on the project being taken on.
I hope this helps!
Experience in your business category and proven successes is tough to beat. talk is cheap. reputation and references will guide part of this answer for you. Not all advisors are 'best' for you. Your strengths and weaknesses have to be baked in. Ultimately you get what you pay for. By all means search out for what can help you or your current need.
A well experienced advisor can evaluate the business and marketing strategies and other things which, perhaps you may or may not know. We all have a blind faith in many areas and outsider would view with a different perspective which may be effective or not depending upon the situation. Open communication and team work is one of the keys to succeed in every situation. There is no end to the knowledge. Pradeep Berry
Tony, in the end there are no wrong advisors, there only wrong choices for an advisor.
There's no advisor with a magic staff. Before you hire one, first know what your real question is. Not just what you feel it is. But first look into it yourself defining what you really want. This will help you to lower down the costs. A well asked question shortens the time you have to hire an advisor.
So be wise before you give your "business"life into the hands of someone else.
Whether selecting SCORE, or a business advisor, you will want to exercise the same scrutiny and caution. Two things [of many] to look for:
• Do they quickly demonstrate understanding of your business & challenges? Too many advisors begin by talking about themselves with the misguided belief that others need to hear all about themselves to establish credibility. Credibility is more quickly established in how they demonstrate understanding of YOU as the client. Those that begin with the focus on themselves often serves as a precursor for how the relationship will function going forward.
• When initially consulting with them, establish quickly whether anything they say suggests they can produce consistent, and repeatable results. Simply claiming they have done that isn't enough. They need to understand how, so that they can teach you to do the same. You can't afford to be paying for someone else to experiment with your business.
Word of caution with SCORE – The requirements to become a member that counsels others is hardly discriminating. Here is an excerpt of their filters they "suggest" for candidates:
"SCORE suggests that candidates for Membership meet the following guidelines:
• Management, administrative, business ownership or professional business experience
• Knowledge of contemporary business practices"
Following is the link that shows the very short list of what they "suggest" members' experience includes. http://www.score.org/statement-of-understanding
While they do have a 90-day training, it is general in nature to the function (completion of forms, compliance, etc.) ensuring conformity to the bylaws of SCORE, but does not scrutinize members for competence in creating success for other start-ups. Don't get me wrong – You can find some great members within SCORE, but not all are equally qualified.
Find someone that can meet your needs and that has experienced it themselves. Not read about it or can suggest alternatives. Someone that has lived it like you are doing.
Accountability and measurable goals are needed for both sides of the table for it to a successful partnership to achieve your goals.
As with any coach or consultant, there are two major points of value:
1) Their experience in helping others. They will have seen many different businesses, so are likely to have seen situations similar to yours, and will have seen how others solved them (or helped others craft those solutions). This can significantly cut down on the trial and error.
2) Objective eyes. Any time you have an outsider (one who knows what they are doing) look at your business, they will see things you cannot. It's like the old saying: "You can't see the forest for the trees." You are in the middle of anything going on in your small business, so you will benefit from someone giving you their insight and opinion on what they observe.
There are 5 key partners that you will rely upon as your business grows. Your banker, CPA/accountant, attorney, business insurance agent, and a vetted business advisor. Each should be interviewed, looking not only for how they will be able to assist in your success, but also to be sure that the "chemistry" is correct.
Having a competent and available accountability partner will be important to your business success and personal well-being.
Many will offer an initial consultation at no charge, or 1 hour no charge with 1 hour paid. (2-hour consult) Choosing an advisor with your specific industry experience is not as important as choosing one who has had experience in running a business. Bringing best practices across industries can often lead to new thoughts and processes for your business.
In reading the question I am assuming that you are looking to find a provider who is prepared to be paid on results, more than traditional man day rates or a project fee. It all comes down to the quality of the advisor and many small businesses don't have the knowledge or skills to make that assessment.Certainly there are entrepreneur organisations who will provide advice too. As with everything in life you get what you pay for. Just remember that in order to grow your business, you need a vision, you need the right mindset and the business itself has to implement capability and winning processes - if you have these then you probably don't need a consultant! I am guessing you don't so focus on the quality of the consultant (look at track record and references) and be prepared to work with them on the best payment option for both parties.
The advisor will know more about what you want, will be able to warn on the pitfalls so that you do not make the same mistakes again.
to find one the best way is word by mouth and also thru the net. if you get a good advisor it is worth what you pay.
I also looked up the nearest SCORE group in Phoenix and did not hire an advisor since my budget did not allow for one when I first started. They can help you set up a business plan and outline a budget. They are executives who have had vast experience and are willing to help out start-up businesses. I found their perspective invaluable.
That is a great question. It really depends on what you are looking for in a small business advisor. I would suggest before you being your search, consider what your objectives are for your business, what is the "ideal situation" you are striving for and then interview them, just like you would a new hire.
Ask for referral letters for similar businesses and make sure you CONTACT those referrals to see what working with the business advisor will be like.
Finally, try to tie your payments to the success of your business. If they are as good as they say you are and believe in your business than they should be willing to commit to their compensation to that objective.
Note when I say "they" I often mean "me" here...
1) They know more than you. Golden rule: you don't know what you don't know. [so how can you know you need to learn it?]
2) They've got more experience than you. You can learn from their failures instead of paying for the failures yourself
3) they're often well-connected
4) they'll offer lots of constructive criticism, which is especially important if your surrounded by overly-positive people
5) They'll keep you motivated when times are tough
6) they'll more likely be able to help you identify when to pivot and show you how
THEY WILL NOT save your business, or steer you clear of a wall you're hell-bent on running into. They advise, they don't direct - big difference.
As for fees: it all depends. Personally, I've done it all. I've taken equity, I've done volunteer, and I've invoiced them. Payment structure is really personalized from one consultant to another. If you want more info, message me.
A small business advisor would give you practical advice that works instead of a large report to read, understand and implement. A network of independent consultants like IIB would be able to give you the maximum benefit as you get experts from all areas of business at a fixed monthy fee for as long as you need them.
If you share your address I can request the IIB Associate nearest to you to get in touch.
Using a business advisor can provide several benefits which include:
1- Provides you with an objective person to provide you feedback on many specific topics regarding your business
2- Help you avoid the pitfalls of running small business. They've been there!
3- Act as an Accountability Partner to keep you focused on the business.
4- Help you work 'ON' the business and not 'IN' it. This is one of the most common traps business owners who fail, fall into.
5- Providing you advice, guidance and mentoring that will give you the confidence that you are moving in the right direction.
6- A business advisor typically knows who in your local market can provide you the best websites, CPA/Bookkeeping services, business insurances or marketing materials and most other vendors that you'll need to help you grow your business.
I would contact 3-4 local business advisors and interview them to find out how they think they can help you. Be sure they can clearly express the outcome they would provide you whether they work with you on a Project-Based relationship or a long term growth and business development relationship.
Wishing You the Best....
This person must be someone you feel comfortable with and you believe you can trust as a confidant.
Require that they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. I've seen so many advisors take someone's ideas, products and services and use them to further their own business or even create a competing business.
If possible, try to find a business advisor in your area who has had experience in your type of industry. Usually an advisor works on a fee basis with a retainer up front. It is important to find someone who listens well and provides feedback based on your input and need before giving advice. There is never a cookie cutter solution. The results can't be guaranteed because the advisor is not running your business, but an objective opinion and a roadmap for growth can help put you on the right track. The benefit is a fresh set of eyes analyzing your business.