Five Steps to Select A Business Advisor

As business becomes more complicated and the world keeps moving at a faster pace, your advisors become more critical to your success.  They can keep you focused, move you forward and watch for unexpected delays in your future.

Earlier this year I had a banker take offense to a statement I made in my newsletter.  She noted that if your banking relationship poses a risk to your business – you are with the wrong bank.  Looking at a bigger picture, that is true for any advisor that you are using.

Here are five tips to help you choose the right banker or advisor for your business.

Step 1: Identify your needs

The size of your business and the stage that it is at will affect your choice.  Start with the problems you are facing.   Get an idea of how simple or how complicated is your situation.  If you need a simple tax return done or a bank to process checks and your deposits, the decision is less critical and you can spend less time making that decision.

Keep in mind your needs for the next 5 years.  How will your needs change?

Step 2: Discover your choices

As the world keeps moving at a faster pace, choices are growing.  Most banks and advisors come in a variety of sizes, level of complexity and differences in technology.  You are looking for the types of choices that are available to meet your needs.  Then narrow down those choices to a specific bank or advisor.

  • Do a google search.
  • Ask for referrals.
  • Checkout websites, marketing information and reviews. Personally, I like the good old boy system.   Always get your information from a respected source.  This information will give you a flavor of the vendor.

Step 3: Start with a budget. Then refine. 

I find this step tricky.  The goal is to find the best value for you.  Start with your budget.  It will be based on how critical your need is, level of service you desire, how complicated the issue is and what you feel you can afford.  As you learn more about your choices and figure out what is available, your budget may change.

Step 4: Narrow your choices.

Having a few choices is ideal.  Time is a sacred resource.  Take enough time to get the job done reasonably well.   Don’t let this step paralyze you with too much information.  Match your needs to the choices available.

Step 5:  Start a relationship

Not all banks and advisors are created equal!  Nor will they all meet your specific needs.

  • Make a list of questions to find the ideal fit for your business such as; what kind of businesses do you work with? Who will be doing the work? How long have you been doing this type of work? Who is your ideal customer? How are you paid for your services?
  • Give them a phone call.  Are they interested and qualified to work with you? Note how responsive they are and if they make a favorable impression.
  • Do they “get” you?  Be sure you understand them, that communication is clear, direct and proactive.
  • Ask their client or customer references and check them out.

Once you make your selection – be sure to review it annually to make sure you have the best option for you and your business!

A small business owner can ill afford to make a hiring mistake — take your time to get the best.

By Mary Guldan-Lindstrom

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