“without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counsellors they succeed”
Being in business for yourself can be lonely, especially in the early years, when you have few if any, staff and you are facing the challenges of just surviving, let alone thriving.
Start a Board of Advice
One of the best ways you can short circuit this process is to establish a Board of Advice. This is a group of people who are willing to help you out without any expectation of anything in return. They love you and want to help you. When starting it out, I would recommend building an advice board of 4 to 6 people who can share their wisdom and experience with you. They might be industry experts, successful business people from other industries, spiritual advisers like your Pastor or close friends with special skills.
Ideally you should meet at least quarterly. Even though they are not being remunerated, make sure you do something to thank them. The objective of the group is to bring prayer, wisdom, strategies, ideas and additional judgment to help your business. This is not to abrogate your responsibility in decision making as the business owner but merely to try to minimize mistakes and advance the business faster.
Get Professional Advice
We are living in an increasingly complex world, which tends to mean we need more input into our businesses, from law and accounting, to marketing and human resources. Some of the best money you will ever spend is seeking high quality advice. You need to select carefully who you receive advice from.
I had a client who was very successful (in the monetary sense), he was a CEO of one of the largest finance companies in the world, running their business in one of the countries in which it operated, earning a base salary of $2M per annum. His net worth was approximately $12 million. He had been married twice and had four children. But guess what, he did not have a Will in place. Here is a man, who is clearly very intelligent and capable, yet he didn’t have one of the basic financial items in place. Think of the potential chaos if he died prematurely, with children and spouses and ex-spouses potentially fighting over the assets. Whilst for him I suspect he probably knew he needed one, he just hadn’t got around to it.
This story illustrates an important point about advice. Sometimes there are things that we don’t know, for which we would benefit from advice. But then there are things that we do know, but we just don’t get around to doing it! I am a firm believer that 99% of us could benefit from some form of professional advice. For some of us, this might be a once off, for others you may want to engage someone on an ongoing basis.
So Whom Should You Get Advice From?
Specialist Professionals – a high quality, professional financial planner, lawyer or accountant can be a great help to your business, depending on your need. They will ensure you are aware of laws and regulations, strategies and solutions that you may not even have heard of.
External Consultants – Sometimes we don’t have the skills internally, and we can benefit from an independent third party can offer specialist skills in a particular field. Your business may be small and not have the need for a full-time marketer, however you benefit from an expert marketing consultant who can breathe life into your marketing activities or just get you started on this path.
Successful Christian Business People – this can be particularly helpful and probably one of my favourite things to do. I love meeting up with successful Christian business owners, who have honoured God with their business activities and who have managed to build successful and fruitful businesses. These people can be a great source of inspiration, wisdom and contacts!
Who Should You Not Get Advice From?
Family Members – ask yourself “Does my family have a good track record in business?” If not, then perhaps, as much as you love them, they might not be the right people to advise you. Over the years, I have seen parents particularly, give very well meaning, yet very poor advice to their children, particularly in regards to debt. Unless you have family members that have a demonstrated track record of business success, best to get your advice elsewhere.
Friends – One of the sources of problems in friendships can be when money or business ventures becomes involved. Aside from my strong view, that you should never invest with friends, especially in their businesses, your friends may be well meaning, but just not know have the same level of motivation, skills or your same ethical standards.
- Have you been getting advice or have you being going it alone?
- Who are people in your life who you can trust? Have a track record of success? Who would be willing to help? (generally this more people than you realize)
Call to Action
- Form a Board of Advice of people with skills that would benefit your business. These people need not all be ‘business-types’ they can include your Pastor or people who are spiritually discerning and who can look at things differently to the way a group of business people would. It should of course included people who either have specific insight into your industry or into a particular business field (marketing, accounting or law)
- Determine if there are any areas of your business that require professional advice? Be honest with yourself. There are often many areas of business that we think we know more than we really do.