How to Work with an Adviser for Your Business

Workshop

Image credit: Fabrizio Salvetti

It takes hard work and determination to become an entrepreneur. It also takes vision, but an outside, objective perspective is sometimes essential. We can all use a little advice from time to time: one of the markers of a smart, savvy small business owner is that they know when to ask for help.

Entrepreneurs, especially, have to acknowledge they can’t know everything about their business; it spreads them too thin to be effective in the areas in which they shine. An adviser can help aid your business development, and here are a few ways to use their assistance more effectively.

Adviser vs. Mentor

Some people confuse the two. A mentor relationship is an unequal relationship – you are learning the ropes of a business from a more experienced, seasoned professional. Although it’s reciprocal, as the mentee, you usually gain more than the mentor, and the mentor is in an authoritative position.

An adviser to your business is more of a partner. There is a value-added component for both of you. You get a fresh eye to evaluate how you’re doing and to offer insight. Your adviser gets kudos for assisting you and should be compensated.

How to Best Utilize Your Adviser

Time commitment – When choosing advisers, find someone that can make a time and energy commitment over a period of time that you both determine. A virtual relationship with your adviser is great, but also make a point to schedule regular face time.

Get it on paper – It’s best to draw up a contract that spells out the terms of the adviser role. This should include compensation specifics and the time frame of the advisership.

Communicate – If two people in a relationship have very different expectations, it’s not likely to work. Be honest and open with each other to avoid any ongoing issues.

Ask for help – Your adviser expects to be asked to help and guidance. You need to ask for what you need when you need it.

Have you effectively used a business adviser? What did you find most valuable?