Expert Advice

None of us knows everything we need to be successful. So whose help do we need and where do we find it? The idea of a self-made man or woman is not reality. Yes, there are those who like to go it alone, but in the long run they will either fail or fall short of their potential unless they get expert advice somewhere along the way.

Find the Right Advisors

While we all need advice from time to time, we can’t just get it from anybody. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t seek casual opinions on something, but that is different from seeking serious advice. There is a big difference between asking someone if they think your clothing looks acceptable and asking someone if they believe your idea for a new product or business makes sense.

You’ve probably heard the statement that everyone thinks they’re an expert or everybody has an opinion. Well, we know they aren’t all experts. While their opinions may be helpful that does not make them rise to the level of something to act on.

An Example

Imagine you have an idea for a new product and believe you can build a profitable business around it. Before you act it would be wise to get others’ viewpoints, but be wise whom you ask. A close friend may have similar taste and tell you they love the idea. But, someone who is a little less connected may say they think the market for your product is very small. Also, if you are asking for input in a limited fashion you may not have anyone with the expertise to identify potential pitfalls. For example, people may like your product and tell you they would buy it (whether they actually would is another subject), but they may not be aware of potential competition or have any idea as to the upfront costs of developing and marketing the product. Even a business idea that only involves reselling others’ products involves more than just opening a store or website. You must consider such things as how will people know about your store or find your website, what distinguishes your company from others, what legal structure is best (C-Corp, S-Corp, LLC, Partnership, Sole Proprietor), what kind of insurance will you need, and the list goes on.

Nobody, despite what they may try to tell you, knows all that you need to know. They may be an expert in one or even several areas, but it is highly unlikely they know enough to be your sole advisor. This is why so many small businesses have an informal group of people they meet with so that they can run different questions and scenarios by them and get expert advice in return. These individuals may be among your friends but because you have asked them in advance to meet with you on a semi-regular basis then there should be an understanding that you only want advice in areas of their strengths. A tax attorney or accountant is unlikely to make a good sounding board for developing marketing strategies.

What You Need

Actually, what you need will vary depending on the nature of your business, the stage of development of the business, and your own strengths and witnesses. If you have very limited knowledge of how a web-based business operates and want to use that method, then you best engage someone who in knowledgeable of that area. If you truly have very limited understanding of a critical need, you will likely need to bite the bullet and pay someone to help you, even if they just contract with you on specific needs. There are some things every company has to manage on an on-going basis yet the need is not consistent enough to require a full-time or even a part-time employee. For example, I offer Part-time CFO and Controller services to small companies. Along with that I also have the experience to provide some consulting in operational areas. Yet, I will tell a potential client up-front that I do not do income tax work. That is an area that I believe is so complex and that changes so frequently that it warrants someone who specializes in it.

The last thing above brings up another point. If you are going to get expert advice, then I suggest you stay away from someone who tries to convince you they are experts at everything or even in several complicated areas that are not very related.

Regardless of the stage of growth of your company, do you have available people who can provide the advice you need. If you don’t have someone internally, then find someone outside the company who can help you avoid pitfalls.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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