Business Advisory Services Sydney – Everything you need to make the best choice for your business.
I have found over the last 20+ years working in Business Advisory that we (Business Advisors) are clear about who we are and what we do.
My goal in this article is to clear up some of the myths and misinformation about Business Advisory Services and help guide you to make the right decision for you.
The unfortunate reality is that anyone can call themselves a Business Advisor as there is no regulation around the use of this phrase. This has led to dodgy spruikers, charlatans, ultimately leading to lack of trust.
You are in the risky position of having to research and make a decision for yourself around who to trust to get help in your business.
Rest assured most of us are honest and can add significant value to your business. Hopefully, this article will go some way to help you make the right choice.
In this article we will try to answer these questions:
- What are Business Advisory services?
- How long do Business Advisory Services take?
- When might you want/need to engage a Business Advisor?
- What to look for when choosing trusted Business Advisory Services?
- How to structure your contract for Business Advisory Services?
- When should you NOT engage a Business Advisor?
1. What are Business Advisory Services?
Business Advisory is a massive category of services which makes this question difficult to answer.
I googled for hours trying to find an unbiased independent definition but I failed.
The problem I encountered was that most definitions ended in “provide advice”. But as a Business Owner, I don’t need advice I need solutions that work. Solutions that add real value to my business.
So here is my definition…
Business advisors analyze problems and potential risks businesses are facing and help by providing practical solutions that add value to the business.
To me, the role of a Business Advisor should go much further than just providing advice.
I have seen too many shiny reports with impractical generic advice that just doesn’t help the business owner.
Beware of shiny reports…
There are many areas of business advisory services the key ones are:
- Business Operations – focused on growth/scalability, profit, people management, culture, and innovation.
- Business Strategy – focused on future planning and branding. This is often separated from Business Operations. In my experience, this creates confusion and poorer results.
- Sales and Marketing – focused on getting more leads and sales (let’s face Busines Owners usually just need more sales)
- Technology – focused on security and leveraging technology. This must support rather than drive the Business Operations and Strategy.
- Compliance – HR, Tax, Legal, and anything else that keeps you out of jail.
There are many more subcategories but these 5 cover the vast majority of Business Advisory Services.
2. How long do Business Advisory Services take?
How long is a piece of string?
I have seen Business Advisory Services being offered from just a few days to several years.
Let’s refer back to my definition of “providing practical solutions that add value”.
According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18-254 days for a person to form a new habit. It also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.
With perhaps the exception of compliance, most other forms of Business Advisory Services will require a change of people’s behaviors in your business.
When you consider time to analyze, come up with a solution, implement, test, and refine the solution to ensure it’s truly embedded in your business…
I would suggest you are looking at 3-9 months for most Business Advisory Services to be effective.
So if you come across a Spuiker offering big changes in a few days – you might be buying the “shiny report” or a story of how it worked for someone else.
Beware of big results that take no time or effort to achieve…
3. When might you want/need to engage a Business Advisor?
These questions are getting harder…
When you engage may be different for each of the 5 key categories of Business Advisory Service but I would say that for all of them – before it’s too late.
Being proactive will give you the best results.
If you’re experiencing any of these:
- I can’t take a vacation without checking emails and taking calls.
- I’ve grown rapidly and now I struggle to keep up.
- I’m in constant “fire fighting” mode going from one issue to the next – I have to solve every issue myself.
- I’m trapped in the day-to-day business, I don’t have time to focus on growth.
- I feel like an employee in my own business rather than a true Business Owner.
- I stay up at night worrying about…
- I want to take the business to the next level, but not sure how to get there.
- Everyone in my business is working hard but the returns just aren’t there.
- I am moving into a new business/product/service area that I’ve been in before.
- I think my business is doing well but I can’t be certain.
- I know my business has more potential…
- I wish things were moving faster in my business
You might want to consider engaging a Business Advisor to help.
They will likely have a framework or process that will provide clarity, and experience that will get you results faster than if you were to go it alone.
Many Business Advisors offer a free consultation. Don’t be afraid to use them.
They can be very valuable to assess the Advisor but also just to get your thoughts in order.
(Tip don’t feel like you are wasting the Business Advisor’s time. These consultations are valuable to the Business Advisors as they help them understand current issues businesses are facing).
Be proactive, don’t leave things until they become overwhelming…
4. What to look for when choosing trusted Business Advisory Services?
Trust is super important when you are looking for Business Advisory Services. So how can you trust?
There are some professional bodies that give you comfort. Whilst these bodies cannot guarantee you are working with a trustworthy business, it is in their best interests to have members that follow the rules.
It is important to note that these bodies usually have quality standards that must be adhered to. They often require members to perform continuing professional development (CPD) in their fields.
Some like the Accounting and Law bodies often have a type of insurance to pay damages to businesses that are affected by members who do not adhere to the rule.
Business Advisors that are part of a professional body usually have more to lose than those that are not. This tends to result in ethical business practices.
Being a member of a professional body, unfortunately, does not guarantee ethical behavior but at the very least it gives a 3rd party that you can lodge a complaint with should things go wrong.
You can ask for client references, however, in some Business Advisory categories discretion and privacy are of utmost importance and it may be difficult to canvas existing clients.
It is also important to recognize that no two businesses are the same what worked for one may not work for the next.
You might look at online reviews and other sources (although these are significantly biased and not always real).
My personal favorite is to speak with the Business Advisor directly, ask a bunch of questions. Ask them to demonstrate what they have done and what they can do for you.
99% of the time after a good discussion your gut will tell you whether you can trust them.
Other things to look for:
- Do they have a framework/process that they have taken clients through? Usually, a proven framework customized to your business will reduce time, effort, risks, and costs.
- Do their values align with your values? If you do not share the same values it may be very difficult for you to take on their solutions. (I don’t have a “win at any cost” mentality, I have learned from experience that I don’t work well with people that have that mentality).
- Are they truly working for you or someone else? Some Business Advisory Services get commissions from other sources, e.g. the IT SAS system, or the insurance provider, in these cases, are they really working for you or the best commission?
Check the Business Advisor has your interests at heart, could there be a hidden agenda…
5. How to structure your engagement for Business Advisory Services?
Once again let’s revisit my definition of Business Advisors: – Business advisors analyze problems and potential risks businesses are facing and help by providing practical solutions that add value to the business.
There are a few keywords that jump out here:
- Problems and Risks
- Practical Solution
- Add value
To me these keywords highlight that this will not the same as buying an existing off-the-shelf product – we are looking for specific solutions to specific problems and risks that work for a specific business.
The practical solution may in fact end up being something off the shelf but the questions asked, analysis done, and options faced will be different for each business.
This highlights a lot of places where the Business Owner and Business Advisor must be aligned to get the most successful outcome.
Value-added results should also increase over time.
Because of this, I believe that Business Owners and Business Advisors alike benefit much more greatly from working as partners. Sharing the successes and failures together.
Therefore I am not in favor of engagements that only focus on deliverables and not on results.
I do believe that both parties should be clear that they both need to take action and hold each other accountable.
I am also in favor of flexible profit/equity share type arrangements that serve both parties a much greater benefit over time.
As we saw in the previous question that results do take time, I think it is really important that either the Business Owner or the Business Advisor can exit the relationship in a fair and equitable way should they feel they are no longer share values or can get the desired results.
Ensure any engagement is results-focused, beware of engagements/contracts that only focus on deliverables with no accountability for results.
6. When should you NOT engage a Business Advisor?
I’ve added this for clarity. You should not engage in Business Advisory Services if you will not take action.
If you have nothing to learn and/or you are not willing and open to change you will likely not take any action on the solutions provided.
It can be hard engaging with independent Business Advisors to look at your business. They may find inadequacies that you want to keep hidden or things that could reflect poorly on you and the management team.
However, failure is the price of wisdom, we must get things wrong to put them right. We must go on an open-minded journey of discovery to truly uncover the golden opportunities in our businesses.
Now, of course, you will find Business Advisors that are happy to take your money whether you implement the solutions or not.
But if you are not going to take action it can have terrible consequences.
Once you engage in Business Advisory Services the people in your business will expect change. Many of the people in your business may be experiencing pain from those problems and potential risks.
The cost of not taking action is far greater than just wasting the money you invested in your Business Advisors, it will often lead to losing staff and even customers as they get fed up with inaction.
Don’t engage if you will not take action.
Hi I’m Brad Horan the author of this article. I am the Owner of Lucrature® – Business Advisory. I really hope this article has been helpful in providing you with some ideas on how you can determine when you may need a Business Advisory Service, how to select a provider, and how to engage with them.
I’d love to get your feedback on this article so feel free to send me an email or message.
If you are looking to partner with a Business Advisor to help your business to grow, to get more freedom from your business with more time and money, please book an appointment or take a look at our Business Advisory Services.
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