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What truly makes a good business advisor

What do new businesses and established businesses have in common? Both can benefit from good business advice. Whether you’re not sure how to get started or where to go next, or if you need assistance growing your business further, the support of a business advisor can help take your business to the next level.

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Here, you'll find seven top strengths of a good business advisor:

  1. They create a partnership
  2. They have experience working with or being a business owner
  3. They have access to the best tech (and know what to do with it)
  4. They’re flexible
  5. They genuinely care
  6. They provide a return on your investment
  7. They hold you accountable

To learn more about how a good business advisor will help you, read on.

It’s a partnership

Just like any relationship, a good business advisor should function as a partnership. Here's what a partnership brings to the table:

Emotional support

Business owners are so busy handling the day to day tasks and putting out fires that they generally don’t have enough time for self-reflection. Our emotions affect business decisions - for good or bad - and if they’re not given the proper attention, it’s easy to hurt relationships with staff or customers. Quiet reflection is a key part of understanding and controlling our emotions. The opportunity to confide with a listener helps as well.

 

Relating to the business owner

In a partnership, it’s hard to give or receive emotional support when you don’t know a person very well. That’s why it’s so important that a business advisor gets to know their customers on a personal level. A good business advisor will empathise with your emotions and your struggles, helping give personalised advice.

 

Honesty, integrity, challenging

Partnerships aren't easy - they're constantly pushing you to grow. You want a business advisor who will challenge you when you’re wrong, who will be upfront and honest with you, and who will challenge you to be better, otherwise you're just employing an expensive yes-man. They’ll ensure you follow a considered process rather than just one part and take accountability when things go wrong, so you can learn from mistakes and move on.

 

Through thick and thin

It’s tough to start a business, and even tougher to survive. You need a partner who’ll stick with you and help you make it through the tough times. According to MBIE, 30% of new business fail during the first two years, and 50% fail within the first five. Only a third of the original number remain past ten years. The highest failure rate belongs to businesses with zero employees. Of those created in 2010, only 37% survived to 2016. Businesses with anywhere between 1 and 49 employees scored in the 52-59% range for survival to 2016 - still a much lower survival rate than larger firms.

A good advisor challenges you

Customer testimonial

MATARIKI TERRACES

"DJ at RightWay understands our business and what we are trying to achieve. We are always asking him to challenge us to do things better, and he does".

matariki_2649

Business owner experience

Our business specialists either have experience working with business owners or running businesses themselves. Here's what you can expect from their experience:

Knows the mistakes to avoid

They know the mistakes to avoid

Without the experience to anticipate and avoid certain traps, falling into them is almost inevitable for new business owners. An experienced business owner working as a business advisor has the foresight to see common pitfalls. This protects you from becoming the next business statistic.

More relatable

They're more relatable

You don’t need someone who’s overly sympathetic. You need someone who understands exactly what you’re going through because they’ve been there. A good advisor is a business owner too, or they have been in the past, and that makes them a bit more understanding of what you're going through. This makes them more relatable helping you to create a stronger relationship.

A good listener

They're good listeners

A good advisor will listen more than they talk, concentrate on what you’re saying, and they won’t interrupt you. They’ll ask for elaboration to uncover underlying concerns, and to make sure that they’re really understanding you. This forges personal connections, too, because you know that someone is listening - really listening - to what you’re saying.

Experience in asking the right questions

And they have experience in asking the right questions

Because they’ve done it before, and because they’re listening well, they can ask the really important questions and quickly get to the crux of the issue. They can help you understand the areas you need to work on, as well as the strengths you can make use of. They’ll push you out of your comfort zone, to keep you moving forward and getting results.


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Only the best technology for your business

A good business advisor has knowledge of the current industry trends, and access to the best tools, like Xero. They can keep you updated of the latest technologies and make suggestions for how you can best implement ideas into your own business strategy. Tools like Xero enable advisors to get an up-to-date picture of your business.

So many accountants just look at the numbers, but a good business advisor is too wise for that. They’ll use numbers as a starting point for discussion, asking the right questions of customers to learn what caused that result. That’s how actions within the business are made visible, and financial results can be replicated - or avoided.

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Flexible

You know from running a business that every customer is different. So too are business owners. That’s why a good business advisor is flexible, able to adjust to the unique needs of you and your business. They should also be available when you need them most. Part of that is being able to deal with different stages of business, from startup to business exit. Yes, successfully exiting a business takes time and good planning too!
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Return on investment

A good business advisor should be able to show you a return on investment.

 

The three key benefits of using a business advisor are that:

  • You get the right guidance
  • You won’t make costly beginners’ mistakes
  • You get ahead of your competitors

They’re experienced at developing a solid business plan, then putting that plan into action - and they know what it takes to run a business, from filling out the right forms to asking the right questions.

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Accountable

A good business advisor will hold you accountable for your actions. They’ll keep you on track with the things you should be doing, and ensure you follow good processes. They’ll also let you know when you’ve made a bad decision. We make decisions based on what we can control and on the situation as we see it.

 

That’s imperfect information, and we get better at making good decisions, and avoiding bad ones, over time. In the meantime, bad decisions are always opportunities to learn and grow.

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