Sourcing External Advice to Grow Your Business

board_roomI was chatting to some friends of mine during the week about my “Growing the Family Business” post.  The conversation was about the fact that many small business owners simply don’t have the skills, or sometimes even the confidence, to interview and identify candidates that might be the right fit for their business. 

In a larger business, an MD or CEO can rely on his/her Human Resources department to provide the necessary skills for strategic recruitment.  Even in mid size businesses there’s often a board of directors from which the MD can draw expertise and advice from – and bounce ideas off – when required.  But in the humble small business it’s not uncommon for the kitchen table,  surrounded by spouse, friends or children, to be the sounding board for ideas and advice.

Now don’t get me wrong – some of the best ideas implemented in my business have come from kitchen table discussions.  But getting from a great idea to the actual execution of that idea requires more specific expertise and guidance – expertise and guidance that can be sourced externally.

Types of External Help

A mentor:  This can be a great no-cost or low-cost and rewarding source of external advice.  You might have an informal mentor relationship with another business owner or executive (generally more senior or with more years of industry experience than yourself), or a more formal mentoring relationship through business coaching organisations.

An advisory board:  Small businesses can have a board too!  But rather than a board of directors, you could form an advisory board for your business. This could also have different levels of formality.  An informal arrangement could be a bunch of business owners coming together to form an advisory board representing all their businesses – a bit like a small networking group that meet often to help each other out with business issues.  A more formal arrangement is when you might hand-pick an advisory board by approaching experts that specifically compliment your business and offering them a small amount of equity – this gives them a vested interest and motivation to really help you.

A consultant:  The mere mention of the word “consultant” can send small business owners running to hide their chequebooks.  Yes, consultants can be expensive, but they can also be used to give you very good and specific advice when you need it fast in key growth areas like franchising and exporting.

So what are your thoughts on these sources of external help?  Are their specific examples you could share with us where external help has been great for your business?

Clayton Moulynox – Evolve IT Australia
We fix business problems, not computer problems –  Develop, Solve, Evolve.


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