When you’re looking for advice on how to manage certain parts of your business, it can be wise to seek an advisor to counsel you. However, hiring the wrong advisor can lead you down a long and frustrating path that could even result in losses for your business.
There are some unwritten rules to follow when seeking out a professional to advise you on business matters. Here, members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their expert tips on what all entrepreneurs should keep in mind when seeking out a business advisor.
1. Find Someone Who Has Experience Executing
Find someone who has experience executing rather than someone who only has knowledge. A lot of advisors are experts in their field, but not a lot have built products and companies from scratch. Finding an advisor who knows what it takes to execute is extremely valuable. And don’t limit yourself by thinking someone is unreachable or unattainable because of their status or achievements. Aim for the stars. In my experience, the more successful the advisor, the easier it is to convince them to come on board. Highly successful people are often at a stage where they want to give back. All you have to do is ask. – Anik Decoste, MTTR
2. Figure Out Your Definition Of Success
It’s important to recognize what you are looking for in a business advisor and if they can provide value in the area you are looking for. There are many great advisors out there, but it’s difficult to find the right one for yourself without defining what success with the advisor looks like. By doing this, you’re more likely to have a successful and mutually positive engagement with a business advisor. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
3. Be Clear On What Advice Or Counsel You Need
One tip that all entrepreneurs should keep in mind when seeking a business advisor is to be clear on what their “ask” is. People enjoy helping others, but they don’t enjoy wasting their time. When you are clear on what advice or counsel you need, your advisor will see that you are serious, respectful and professional and be willing to help you again in the future. In this way, you build a relationship with this person and you can tap into their expertise as your business grows. Additionally, you also should be willing to help them whenever needed, whether it is with your expertise or professional connections. – Michael Kurland, Branded Group Inc
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4. Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Versatility
While it can be advantageous to engage with someone who has a depth of experience in your particular industry, I’ve found that it’s equally powerful to consult with an advisor who has worked with multiple businesses across multiple fields; this will translate to a broader perspective and contribute to more creative problem-solving. – Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep
5. Find Someone Who Understands Your Vision
Find someone who shares your passion. If you want a business advisor who’s invested in your ventures, the worst thing you could do is pursue someone who doesn’t understand your vision. To find a good fit, make sure your candidates have knowledge of your company’s goals, pursuits and content. It can be difficult to advise on a project you don’t know or understand. You want to find someone who can connect with you and share your passion. Also, having someone who understands the business can make it easier to spot any shortcomings and improve upon the business strategy. There’s no room for guessing; it’s best to have someone who knows what they are doing and can match your enthusiasm. Also, you want someone who is genuinely interested in your company as a whole. – Matt Bertram, EWR Digital
6. Be Upfront About The Level Of Commitment Required
Advising is a two-way street. Before bringing on a business advisor, always confirm the level of commitment required on both sides. It doesn’t help the business owner to have a formal advisor who doesn’t return phone calls or answer in a timely fashion. Be upfront regarding the level of commitment you’re looking for. Once you’ve determined that a person would be a great business advisor for you, the other side of the coin is to ensure they feel the same way and are prepared to devote their time and effort. Remember, most advisors have other jobs and endeavors they’re working on in addition to your business! – Arian Radmand, IgnitePost – Robotically handwritten notes
7. Seek An Advisor You’d Get Along With Easily
When looking for a business advisor, you need to make sure they’re someone you get along with easily. You might not always agree with what they have to say, but it’s important to respect their point of view and understand that they’re coming from a place that’s trying to help you. If you hear a suggestion you don’t like, take it with a grain of salt. You don’t have to apply anything you don’t like, but an advisor is there to give you the best advice, even when you don’t want to hear it. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
8. Find Someone Willing To Question Your Choices
Find someone willing to question what you have done and play the devil’s advocate. While it’s great to find someone you get along with and have similar views to, you need people in your circle of advisors who aren’t afraid to push back when needed. So often, I have seen people surround themselves with advisors who agree with everything they say, and that can land businesses in murky waters. Protect yourself with an advisor who can see clearly and communicate concerns well. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.