May 27, 2019
Advisors: 8 Reasons You Need One
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In America alone, over half a million people become entrepreneurs every month!
Some will possess MBAs and sophisticated business plans that will make banks salivate. People in this group will probably do okay by themselves. Training does help prepare you.
Others will stumble into entrepreneurship almost by accident. These are people who discovered they could sell their homemade widget, craft items, or smartphone app. They don't know the first thing about running a business.
While the second group might seem like it needs advisors more than the first, it's not true. EVERYONE who owns a business can benefit from some outside perspective. Here are eight reasons you should consider hiring a business advisor.
The transition from founder to CEO often leaves people baffled.
As a founder, you did a bit of everything. Sometimes you worked on the product or service. Sometimes you fielded customer service calls or did bookkeeping.
As the CEO, your specific role might seem nebulous. You run the business, but what does that actually mean? What should you spend your time on?
An advisor can help you define that role and its responsibilities.
Marketing a product or service means very different things depending on whether you aim at a B2B or B2C market.
A B2B market depends far more on information in a purchase decision. The buyer wants a clear picture of the product's capabilities and ability to merge seamlessly with existing assets.
With a B2C market, emotions play a much bigger role. You sell a perceived lifestyle more than a product.
Advisors understand these differences and can bring a non-bias perspective to your marketing discussions. They can help you gear your marketing the right way for the intended buyers.
It's not uncommon for new products to find homes other than the one a founder expects. In fact, it's common enough in the startup process that lean methodology has a name for what you do at that point. It's known as pivoting.
While pivots often help ensure a startup's survival, it can also mean breaking into a new industry that you don't know well. A business coach with the right background can help you navigate the quirks of that industry. It cuts way down on your learning curve, which helps the business stay profitable.
Entrepreneurs almost always struggle with delegation.
In some cases, it's just that you're a control freak who thinks no one else can do it as well as you. Others just never developed the habit of handing off less crucial tasks. A business coach can look at your work habits and help you identify things that others should manage.
For example, you shouldn't handle your own scheduling beyond a certain growth level. An assistant should handle that because it's a poor use of your time. An accountant should handle your taxes because they'll just do a better job of it.
The typical entrepreneur overflows with a healthy ambition and a can-do attitude. That doesn't mean you won't let things slide. Entrepreneurs dislike certain parts of their business the same way employees might hate a required task.
Most early-stage entrepreneurs know they should spend more time marketing their business. Yet, business owners routinely put off marketing because they despise it.
An advisor won't let you off the hook for shirking those duties. Advisors create a layer of accountability that doesn't otherwise exist.
Everyone makes mistakes. That's as true for founders as it is for their employees.
The difference is that no one likes correcting their boss. Correct the boss and you might be collecting your last paycheck from that company.
An advisor works for you, in a sense, but it's a different relationship. A good coach is there to provide you with guidance. That includes calling you out when you make bad choices, like firing someone for telling you the truth.
Advisors also act as sounding boards for the concerns you don't dare share with others. They can help you separate the real worries from the non-problems.
Business owners pour most of their energy and time into the business. It's very easy for you to create a kind of bubble around yourself and the business. While that might help you avoid distractions early on, it will become a hindrance at some point.
You can't embrace opportunities if you don't go out and find them. Advisors will strongly encourage you to delegate some tasks and get out of the office. They'll suggest you cultivate friendships with other successful business owners or attend networking events.
Spending time with successful peers puts you in a position where opportunities can find you. For example, maybe someone wants a co-founder on a new project and you're the perfect fit. They must know you're in the world before they can include you.
Many startups hope for the day when they can secure funding through an angel investor or venture capitalist. That influx of cash can often mean the difference between scaling up or toiling for years to develop into a major player.
An advisor can't typically secure your funding. They can do some other important thing to help you get funded.
For one, they can probably direct you toward angel investors or venture capitalists who are likely to be interested. They can also help prepare you for interviews with potential investors.
Advisors don't sit on the sidelines and cheer you on as you blindly make decisions. They will offer you support and encouragement but will also call you out for foolishness.
They'll help identify where you are not delegating, making bad choices, or dodging necessary activities. They'll also provide guidance on what your role should be, getting funding, and even marketing your business.
Regardless of your background, almost any business owner can benefit from using an advisor.
I love serving as a mentor and advisor for tech startups and am always happy to help.
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