Becoming your own boss can look like freedom to many with an entrepreneurial spirit. But going solo without any support can be one of the worst things you can do in business. Overstretching yourself can be one of the easiest traps to fall into, making it more challenging to scale your business.
Alex Cook is passionate about helping business owners live up to their potential through tapping into the business expertise that is available to them but can sometimes feel out of reach. Here Alex Cook will expand on 5 reasons why even the best at business need good advice.
In an effort to cut down on costs, many people jump into a business model where they are also managing the strategy, sales, marketing, finance and accounting. While going alone will certainly give you full autonomy and control of your business, if most of us are honest with ourselves, there are often many areas of business that we think we know more than we really do.
Even for the most talented solopreneur, it’s practically impossible to master every skill needed to substantially grow a business. If you are weak in any one area, it will not only prevent your business from expanding but will take out any joy you have in running your organisation.
A sustainable business model looks more like a tribe of professionals than one individual trying to make it on their own. Collaboration not only helps with compensating for your own deficits in skills and expertise, it also helps in removing any blindspots that will cause trouble down the track if unattended to. One of my mentors once said:
I would add to that statement, that often the moment we stop learning is when we disconnect from others that have the experience and insights we lack. When you surround yourself with people that know more than you in a given field, some of that knowledge and know-how is bound to positively fill your knowledge bank! It also helps with the feelings of isolation and fatigue that comes with doing the heavy lifting.
Trying to do it all will soon see you undertaking low-level activities that pull you away from making sales, delivering projects for your high-end clients and performing the tasks that help the business to grow. It sounds like a recipe for failure and yet some of the most gifted business people I’ve advised have not been able to manage their success.
I recall a client who was a CEO of one of the largest finance companies in the world, who earned a base salary of $2 million per annum and had a net worth of approximately $12 million. While he was married with four children, he had not found the time to have a Will in place!
Since you face limited hours in a day you are faced with two paths: become your own bottleneck and slow business down or take the delegation route and outsource some of your thinking to a panel of expert advisors.
I am a firm believer that 99% of us could benefit from some form of professional advice. For some of us, this might be a once off, for others you may want to engage someone on an ongoing basis.
Many of us simply do not have the headspace to do it all. A high quality, professional financial planner, lawyer or accountant can be a great help to your business, depending on your requirements. They will ensure you are aware of laws and regulations, strategies and solutions that you may not even have heard of.
One of the best ways to beat the feeling of being a lone ranger is to establish a Board of Advice. This is a group of people who are willing to help you out without any expectation of anything in return. They might be industry experts, successful business people from other industries, spiritual advisers like your Pastor or close friends with special skills. King Solomon who was given a gift of wisdom from God wrote about the benefits of collective counsel in the Book of Proverbs:
I recommend building an advice board of around 4 to 6 people so you have enough advice to obtain a healthy variety of perspectives but not too much to feel overwhelmed and pulled in many directions.
Ideally you should meet at least quarterly. Even though your panel are not being remunerated, make sure you do something to thank them. The objective of the group is to bring prayer, wisdom, strategies, ideas and additional judgment to help your business. This is not to abrogate your responsibility in decision making as the business owner but merely to try to minimise mistakes and advance the business faster.
We are living in an increasingly complex world, where change is the only constant. If your business is to stay competitive, it’s important to keep across developments in law as well as adopt new technologies which can make accounting, marketing and human resources far more resource efficient. Some of the best money you will ever spend is seeking high quality advice on these changes.
While it is often expedient to receive counsel from close family and peers, it is not uncommon to see business owners following poor advice they have received from close relations. Conflicts of interests are usually involved when you reach out for professional advice from family and friends where advice is very biased and does not take into account your business objectives and financial position. Unless you have relatives or friends that have a demonstrated track record of business success, it is often best to get your advice elsewhere.
I also warn my clients to think twice about entering into business ventures with peers. While opportunities may come up to invest in their businesses, it is very rare to have friends that possess the same level of motivation, skills and ethical standards that will foster a good business relationship and help to keep the friendship intact.
At least every six months, it is an invaluable exercise to step back and have a team of experts help you review the health of your business. Whether you need a better picture of where your cash is going, gauge the effectiveness of your marketing, assist in forecasting future budget needs or provide an overall assessment of the suitability of your current business strategy, health checks make you better equipped to manage future business challenges.
These check-ups can be easily performed by members of your Board of Advice who have expertise in marketing, accounting or law. If you don’t have all the expertise on your Board of Advice, you can benefit from an independent third party that offers specialist skills in a particular field. With fresh sets of eyes to examine core business activities, you are in a far better position to attend to any areas that have been neglected and need to be prioritised for the next season.
If we don’t have our business in order, we are far more likely to be caught out when external conditions arise that disrupt business operations. It’s no different to having a regular medical checkup with your GP – it keeps you informed on the status of how things are really going, rather than assessing them from your often personal and subjective point of view.
About Alex Cook
Alex Cook has advised individuals and businesses on how to manage their finances for over 19 years. He recently sold his successful financial planning business to pursue his passion of helping people like you to take control of their finances and future.
Visit Alex Cook’s website wealthwithpurpose.com for more information.