A business advisor is someone, typically an outside consultant, who is hired to either help a company with a specific issue or address the operation as a whole. A good business advisor will have a combination of solid experience and an ability to work well with all levels of the organization.
There are a number of local business organizations that offer advising services. SCORE is likely the most well-known, offering free business advising from volunteer businesspeople (often retired) in locations across the United States. You can also use your local Chamber of Commerce as a resource, as they can provide connections to those looking for a business advisor.
Read local business publications and find out if there are any meetups, such as happy hours or brunches, and plan to attend them. After you've been part of the group and have found other business owners you respect, ask them if they have recommendations for local business advisors.
There may also be local conferences for your specific industry that allow you to meet other people who operate in or provide services catering to your type of business.
There are several online resources that can help you find a business advisor. Sites like Yelp! provide both lists of advisors by city or region and performance ratings so you can choose among the highest-rated advisors. LinkedIn is also a good resource, as you can search for advisors in your region and read client testimonials.
Although ads aren't, in and of themselves, great ways to find good business advisors, you can use them to get a list of local providers. Once you've created a list, research the names online to find out what you can about their reputations. Typically people aren't shy about sharing bad situations.
Keep in mind, though, that a solitary bad review could just be someone with a grudge; fifty bad reviews, however, tell an entirely different story.
- Do you have a history of working with my type of business?
- Are you able to meet on a regular basis until my issues are solved?
- Can you supply referrals from satisfied clients?
- Will you be able to visit on-site to see my company in action?
- What is your overarching business philosophy?
- What is your definition of a successful business?
You might find that, while you have your business finances under control, your IT Department needs help. Or you may be suffering from growing pains and need help hiring the right people. You'll find that there are advisors who focus on assisting companies through specific issues.
For IT issues you can hire a business technology advisor; for help with bookkeeping you can contract a business financial advisor; and a business strategy advisor can help you with growth.
It depends on the type of advice you need. While you can certainly easily communicate online with your business advisor, sometimes finding a business advisor near you who can visit your office or facility is the only way to really resolve your issues.
That said, you could have initial meetings with your advisor in person, then communicate with your business advisor online to make sure you're on track.
- Listen and fully understand your business issues.
- Provide a subjective, outside viewpoint.
- Give actionable advice as to how to address sticking points.
- Work with you to ensure the given solution will solve the problem.
- Meet with you on a regular basis to check progress.
It's a good idea. With all the excitement, intense focus, and elbow grease that goes into launching a startup, it's crucial to have an outside perspective to ensure you're not inadvertently letting anything slide, someone to look over your finances and launch schedule to identify and address any gaps you may have missed.
A business startup advisor can also help you make sure you're prepared for the best problem a startup can face: success. An advisor can ensure that you have the infrastructure to level up quickly.
If you're looking for a finance and business advisor you likely need a generalist, someone who has experience in advising across skills or departments. It also depends on the type of issues you face: if you're looking for general business advice, hire a business advisor who can effectively consult on myriad situations.
However, if you (for example) need in-depth financial advising, it's in your best interest to hire an experienced business financial advisor, someone who can dig deep into your issues and who knows the minutia of business finance.