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Why it pays to have a network of advisors – part 2

In my previous article, I discussed why it’s important to have a good team of professional advisors on hand to help your business.  This article follows on that discussion.

Marketing consultant

Many start-up businesses can’t afford the high fees that these consultants charge, but if you do have the cash, good marketing consultants are well worth it. At the very least, try to buy a few hours of a consultant’s time to discuss crucial sales and marketing questions, and develop a viable marketing strategy. You can gradually build up the relationship over time, as your resources grow.Internet and e-commerce experts can help you to market your company on the Internet, which will extend your reach enormously.

Management consultant or business advisor

These consultants can give you valuable advice on organisational structure, staffing, management styles, risk management, project management and business systems. The need for management consultants becomes greater as the company grows and proper structures are needed.

Information technology expert

A good IT professional can save you substantial amounts of time and money by helping you to set up IT environment appropriately and correctly, ensure that everything runs smoothly, and help you to upgrade and improve your IT infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

Selecting advisors

It’s important to find the right advisors, in terms of expertise, approach and personality. You need to be clear about what you need from an advisor, and feel comfortable with the person and his business philosophy.When it comes to the non-certified professionals, like marketing, management and IT consultants, you need to be cautious, because these groups encompass vast numbers of individuals with radically differing skills and competence levels.

They range from superb to downright dangerous or incompetent.For this type of advisor, word-of-mouth referrals are particularly valuable. You can also get names of advisors from professional and business organisations, and Internet listings.

Ensure, before you interview a prospective advisor that you have a list of questions and that your expectations are clear. When considering an advisor, ask for names of current or previous clients whose needs are similar to your own, and find out whether the advisor provided or exceeded the value they expected.

Professional fees

Ask about fees and fee structures in advance. Where appropriate, ask for formal quotes or contracts. Don’t be afraid to query fees that seem to be excessive or unwarranted.Don’t choose the cheapest advisor. Choose the one who will provide the greatest value to your company.

Mentors, coaches and advisory boards

Older or more experienced colleagues are often more than happy to give advice and guidance to small businesses. While friends can be helpful, strangers are more likely to tell you the things you don’t really want to hear.

It’s very useful to set up an informal board of directors to assist with strategy, planning and problem-solving. Don’t waste their time if you aren’t prepared to take their advice, though! Always ensure that the favour is returned in some way, either through friendship, appropriate tokens of appreciation, or simply by acknowledging their contribution and letting them know how it has helped your business.

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