Is there any greater teacher of learning how to juggle a gazillion things at once than running a business? Quite frankly, running a business is hard work.
As a business owner, it’s you who to call the shots. And it can often feel overwhelming trying to ensure that all of the moving parts of your business run smoothly.
Enter the business advisor.
You’ve probably heard of business coaches, business consultants and financial advisors, but what exactly is a business advisor, and do you need one for your small business?
Let’s take a look.
What is a business advisor?
A business advisor works alongside a business owner to assist with strategy, planning, business development, finances, marketing and more. They provide business owners with information, insights and ideas about how to run a business more effectively and make it more profitable.
In essence, a business advisor lends their knowledge and expertise wherever it’s needed to help your business flourish and perform at its best.
Who needs a business advisor?
Hiring a business advisor can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to navigate your business through challenges, or simply steer it in the right direction.
Here are just some of the many reasons why a business may hire a business advisor:
- Assist with one-off problems
As a business owner, you are often faced with one-off issues and challenges. Sometimes all it takes is some expert advice to guide you safely through to the other side. Hiring a business advisor can be a very effective and cost efficient way to do so.
For example, if you are thinking about restructuring your business and have no prior experience, a business advisor will present you with a range of important things you need to consider and the relevant steps you need to take.
- Assist with ongoing help
You may also have ongoing needs, issues or challenges that require more long term assistance, or you may just want someone to turn to when it comes to tackling those tricky and important decisions.
Both small and large companies can benefit from hiring a business advisor for ongoing help. They will get to know the ins and outs of how your business works, shed light on things you may not have been aware of, anticipate future problems and find solutions.
What does a business advisor do?
Put simply, a business advisor is an outside expert hired to help you solve problems, overcome challenges and make the best possible decisions for your business.
Business advisors are very skilled and knowledgeable in overall business or niche areas of business, and can lend you a helping hand wherever it’s most needed.
Here are some examples of what a business advisor can do:
- Monitor your business against the competitor market to establish business development strategies
- Recommend changes to improve sales and marketing results
- Research and advise changes to your overall business strategy to improve performance
- Analyse your business requirements
- Prepare quality assurance reports and processes
- Advice on budgeting and prepare budgets
- Devise and execute a marketing a strategy to promote new products or services
What are the benefits of hiring a small business advisor?
As well as the practical benefits discussed above, hiring a small business advisor has many other benefits, including:
- You gain a outside perspective and opinion
- You can make better business plans
- You develop and expand your skills as an entrepreneur
- You gain time to focus on other areas of the business
- You get professional expertise
- You will improve your decision making skills
What are the different types of business advisors?
Business advisors are categorised into two groups: general business advisors and specialised business advisors.
Nowadays, there are business advisors of almost every niche. Specialised business advisors have a rightful place, but they’re not always necessary.
Let’s take a closer look at each type of business advisor so you can decide which one is best for you
General Business Advisors
A general business advisor is a strategist who has the expertise and knowledge to cover all aspects of a business. They can help you with both one-off and ongoing issues and can assist you with the overall operation of a business.
A financial advisor, also known as a financial planner, can assist you in developing a financial strategy for your business. They can also help you make informed decisions on important financial issues including investment opportunities, retirement planning, superannuation and financial risk management. Financial advisors are the supporting pillar for many businesses.
A consultant is an expert in a particular field who can provide expertise in certain areas of your business such as marketing, IT, human resources, operations, etc.
An accountant provides professional advice and services to ensure your business accounts are in good shape. Accountants are one of the most popular types of business advisors used by small businesses, offering advice and services including:
- Business Activity Statements (BAS)
- Financial statements
- Managing finances
- Income, deductions and concessions
- PAYG and superannuation obligations
- Legal Experts
A legal expert provides businesses with professional legal advice relating to all aspects of running a business. From employee disputes, choosing or changing your business structure, debt, legal contracts and protecting your intellectual property, every business will need to get legal advice at some stage along the business lifecycle.
An insurance broker helps you get the right insurance policy to manage your business’s assets and legal liability. It’s crucial to ensure you have adequate and sufficient insurance policies to protect your business as a result of accidents, employee misconduct and liability claims among others.
Businesses consult insurance brokers to help you make the right choices, negotiate with insures on your behalf and get the best value insurance package for your business.
How do I find a good business advisor?
Hiring a business advisor can be a significant asset to your business, but the question is… “How do I find a good business advisor?”
Here are some top tips to find a good business advisor for your small business.
- Look into their experience
Which businesses have they worked with in the past? For how long have they worked as a business advisor? It’s important to gauge the level of experience they have to ensure you are getting quality advice.
- Be aware of credentials
Credentials, licensing and degrees certainly don't qualify someone to give expert advice, but it’s worth being aware of. Anyone can set themselves up as a business advisor or consultant, so be wary of their qualifications and professional experiences.
- Find an advisor who has worked with small businesses
Small businesses are very different to large companies and corporations. Small businesses experience unique challenges and it’s important that an advisor understands them. Aim to find an advisor who has worked with small businesses in the past.
- Ask for referrals
Word of mouth still stands as one of the best forms of advertising, so ask around in your professional network and social circles for recommendations.
- Discuss your business and industry before you hire
During the hiring process, make sure you explain your industry and business in depth to ensure they know who and what they’re working. An advisor who thoroughly understands your industry will be able to provide the best possible advice.
How much does it cost to hire a business advisor?
Business advisors fees are either on an hourly or retainer agreement depending on whether you hire one off or ongoing advisory services.
To give you an idea, the average cost to hire a business advisor in Australia ranges from $50 to $150 per hour.
Are you ready to hire a business advisor? Tell us a bit about your business and we’ll introduce you to the best business advisors in your area.
You can also browse out Q&A section below, or ask a question and get an answer from an expert business advisor in the SavvySME community.