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How to choose a business expert to help your small business?

Post written by Ewan Menzies

If you have read any of Richard Branson’s books you will have seen that from an early stage in his business he surrounded himself with people that were better than himself, and continues to do so to this day. If it is good enough for some of the best entrepreneurs, it is good enough for you too.   

The benefits of having an expert to support your business

If you have started looking for a business expert to support your business you will have seen and heard the success stories. Bringing in a business expert to support your business can have a very positive impact on your turnover, profits, company culture, customer care, and much more.

 

Why you need a business expert

Running a business turning over a few million is not easy. There is so much to do, so many people to manage and never a moment to lift your head up and see what is coming next. As you are immersed in the day to day operations you may well struggle to see the wood from the trees.

If it is your own business you will be emotionally connected to your team, your customers and your products. As a result, you often struggle to make objective decisions and use your gut more than your head. This can lead to costly errors when pricing jobs, expanding your company or hiring the wrong people.

For many, this is the only business they have ever run and only have their own experiences to pull on when making major strategic changes. This is a pressure that weighs heavy on many MDs CEOs and business owners shoulders.

 

What do I know about business experts?

Over the last 15 years, I have worn many hats. I have been both a mentee and a mentor on a number of occasions and experienced first hand the pros and cons of this relationship. 

My roots are in education and moving to business trainer, was a natural progression for me. I have offered training to practitioners and companies from individuals and small groups to whole organisations covering topics including sales, mindset, systems development and strategic planning.

I have been trained as a business coach and have coached many CEOs, MDs, business owners and senior managers. I have also had a number of coaches myself over the years and learned what it means to be on the other side of this relationship. 

In recent years, I have moved to become a  business consultant work, getting closer to clients, working alongside their teams and staying with them for the long haul to get things done right.

 

The Pros and Cons of business experts you can access for help

 

Business Mentor

A business mentor is someone who can pull on their own experience in business and share it with you so that you can learn from their mistakes and successes.

man on laptop

Pros of a business mentor

  • They are usually free
  • They have been there and done it themself
  • You get honest feedback  

Cons of a business mentor

  • Mentors have little incentive to work hard for you
  • Mentors may not know your industry
  • There is little structure to what they do
  • Mentors may only have success/experience with one company 
  • Mentors have limited time to support you
  • Mentors have limited or no tools to help you
  • Mentors may not have professional skills in guiding others
  • Mentors may cause more problems than help
  • You may already be better than your mentor
  • Because mentors are free, their advice is ignored, even if it is good

 

Business Trainer

Business trainers are there to teach you tried and proven methods, giving you the skills to find success on your own. This is often a one-off engagement or short term relationship.

female trainer

Pros

  • Many courses can now be completed remotely
  • Improve your business acumen in a short time
  • It can be a good networking opportunity
  • A large knowledge can be gained for a low fee

Cons

  • Adds to your business workload – ongoing
  • Challenges in the application, knowing “what to do” is not the same as “how to”
  • Executive training can be expensive
  • Time commitment can be all at once
  • No motivation to apply lessons
  • There is no ongoing support

 

Business Coach

Business coaches are generalists in business who ask questions that support your decision making and hold you accountable to do the work

man in suit

Pros

  • Business coaches hold you accountable to do things
  • Business coaches give an objective view of your business
  • Business coaches have tools you can use to accelerate success
  • Business coaches increase turnover and profit
  • Business coaches can pull on experience from working with other businesses

Cons

  • Business coaches don’t do any work for you
  • Business coaches add to your workload
  • You and your team can be pulled away from business as usual
  • The time a business coach gives you is limited
  • Their business knowledge is as a generalist, rather than expert
  • Ultimately, results are down to you
  • You are typically tied into a 12 month contract
  • Business coaches can be expensive

 

Business Consultant

Business consultants are experts in specific areas of business. Their primary role is to do the work for you. 

consultant at desk

Pros of a business consultant

  • Business consultants do the work for you
  • Business consultants have expert knowledge in specific areas
  • You and your team can stay focused on business as usual
  • Business consultants can pull on experience from working with other businesses
  • Business consultants have proven methods to bring success
  • Business consultants make a big impact where you need it
  • Business consultants give an objective view of your business
  • You can extend the contract when you wish

Cons and a business consultant

  • Expertise may be limited to a specific area(s)
  • Business consultants are more expensive than employees
  • Things may fall when they leave

 

Which business expert is right for you? 

As you consider what kind of business expertise you need to transform your business take time to consider what it is you want from a business expert.

  1. Do you want a professional or an amateur?
  2. Do you want a generalist or an expert?
  3. Do you want someone to guide you or someone to do the work?

It is also worth mentioning at this point, whichever one you go for there needs to be a connection between you and them. Take time to speak with your business expert on a few occasions before making a decision, get to know them, find out what their interests are because this individual needs to be a friend as much as a mentor, trainer, business coach or consultant if you are to work effectively with them.

Take time to make the right decision as the cost can be high, however, the rewards can be far greater.

Before You Go

If you found this blog post interesting, educational or helpful can you please share with your connections or social media network, so other people can benefit too.

About Ewan Menzies

Ewan previously led the training and accreditation of practitioners in the Concord methodology. He has supported organisations with strategic planning across public, private and third sectors for the last two decades. He is currently the Managing Director of Castle Strategy and continues to work with organisations on strategic planning.

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