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Advisor, Mentor, Coach. No Matter What They're Called, Results Are All That Matter!

small-business-blog-advisor-mentor-coachThere is no question that entrepreneurs and small business owners need good advisors. Objective advice is one of the most critical elements in contributing to the success of a small business.

It helps entrepreneurs to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that the advisor/mentor may have made in their own careers. It further provides objectivity in assisting the small business owner with key decision-making and should help provide a "sounding board" and even a basis for new ideas for the business' success. Yet, with wide variety and availability of advisors, mentors or coaches, how does the small business owner find and use the right advisor for them. And further, what expectations should they have with any advisory relationship?

The right advisor? You may say, "Master Yoda, that sounds like there is some kind of fit for an advisor?" Yes, my aspiring business masters, there is no "one size fits all" advisor. The relationship has to "fit" you and your business. And, above all, you should have some objective in mind, or it can be a very costly and frustrating experience. That's right. Don't just hire an advisor to advise. You can get your Uncle Burt to do that...a lot cheaper. Have some desired results in mind. Whether that be something as simple as more effective decision-making, or better planning techniques or better sales forecasting or assistance with the development of a new product roll-out plan.

So how do find the right one for you?

First and foremost, determine how their experiences and expertise are applicable to you and your business. They don't, necessarily, have to come from your industry sector; while it helps, it's not necessary. But they have to bring something "to the party" that will help them relate to you and your business. Or, to the business problem or issue you're currently trying to solve. What skills or expertise do they have that you don't? Have they done it themselves, either as experienced entrepreneurs or small business owners, or as advisors to the same type of business as yours (more size or type, like manufacturing, than vertical)? Theory's great, but practical experience is way better!


Second, how's the chemistry between you and the advisor. Important because the old Marshall McLuhan quote, "the medium is the message," applies here. If you have trouble with their personality, style or delivery, you're going to have trouble "hearing" their advice. Get them to give you some free time, where you can see how they work "up close and personal." Make an assessment of them and what you feel they can do for you and your business, before they are actually costing you anything.

Third, what do you want them to accomplish and is it realistic? Do you feel confident that they can get it done? Most advisors are mere mortals (even Master Yoda, albeit a lot older). They don't work miracles. But if you have a set of objectives in mind, they can, usually tell you if they're rational. Too often, the expectations of a coaching, mentoring or advisory relationship are "off the chart," way too high on the part of the entrepreneur (or, some circumstances, way oversold by the advisor). Make your objectives realistic, but more important will be whether you feel the advisor can meet them.

At the end of day, however, the only thing that matters are the results delivered. And they shouldn't be "squishy!" If you want cheerleading go to a football game, it's cheaper. If you want somebody to make you feel better about yourself, get a dog. The real measure of an advisor relationship is the positive impact it has on your business and on your operating or management style, that you could not have accomplished alone.

No matter what they're called - advisor, mentor, coach - four things are important - Experience/Expertise, Chemistry, Objectives and Results. But the only one that matters is results!

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!



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