Where to find the advice you need to run a business
Nobody can build a company alone. As an entrepreneur, if you’re isolated and not getting outside advice, you may not be making the best decisions for your business.
Entrepreneurs have several options when seeking advice.
An advisory board brings together a group of trusted advisers to provide you with relatively inexpensive guidance on small business decisions. Unlike a formal board of directors, which has legal status, an advisory board meets on a regular, but informal basis.
The best candidates for your small business advisory board will have skills and expertise that compliment your own. For example, you could ask business associates or retired executives who you may have met through your chamber of commerce or golf club. While you don’t want your meetings to be contentious, board members shouldn’t be afraid to challenge your decisions, hold you accountable for reaching your goals and help you to see beyond the status quo.
Peer-to-peer entrepreneur groups
In an entrepreneur group, business owners who are facing the same kind of challenges share their knowledge and experience in a trusting and confidential environment. There are many CEO roundtables where executives can work closely with others to learn how to better manage their businesses. Ideally, group members shouldn’t be competitors, so you can feel comfortable talking about your management issues and getting honest feedback from peers.
Your professional team
Your accountant, lawyer and bankers meet with many other small business owners and can use that experience to help you solve your challenges. As well, you meet with these people often, so they have a good sense of your growing pains.
Business association meetings are a great place to expand your network, keep up to date with what’s going on in your region or industry and enjoy yourself away from the office.
Business consultants and coaches
Hiring a consultant can provide an excellent return on investment by providing you with expertise that complements your own and a tested, structured approach to tackling key challenges in your business. Some examples of areas where a consultant can help include financial management, marketing and sales, technology implementation, human resources management and operational efficiency. As well, a business coach can help you to improve your leadership and management skills.
Employees can be a rich source of knowledge about your business that is unfortunately overlooked by many entrepreneurs. After all, they are the ones who are working in your business every day, meeting customers, filling orders and collecting the bills. They can provide an invaluable perspective on what’s going on and how your business can be improved.