How to Find a Qualified Small Business Advisor

by Liz Magill on May 3, 2011
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Business planning, financial projections, employee management, and customer acquisitions are just a few of the issues that small business owners wrestle with. Startups and fast-growing companies have even more challenges — and that’s where a business advisor is most valuable. Whether they’re helping with starting a new business or managing an existing enterprise, small business advisors are seasoned professionals that help with strategic business planning and crucial operational decisions.

Alas, great small business advisors, like great football coaches, are rare. Here are some tips to finding the perfect small business coach, so you can score a few more touchdowns and experience a lot fewer fumbles:

1) Look for an advisor who’s managed a small business – Small businesses are a different animal than large corporations. Find a business coach that understands the special challenges of small business, including recruiting and retaining employees, capital funding, product marketing, and keeping up with technology. Additionally, target an advisor who had success with your biggest business challenge. For instance, if your main roadblock is distribution, target an advisor who is a distribution channels expert.

2) Look for an advisor with credentials – A business advisor doesn’t necessarily need credentials, a special license, or a degree to give his opinion on how you should run your business, but it doesn’t hurt. Because anyone can set up shop as an advisor, look for someone with a business degree, MBA, or other coaching credentials such as CPCP (Certified Professional Coach Program), ACC (Associate Certified Coach), PCC (Professional Certified Coach), or MCC (Master Certified Coach) for added peace of mind that you’re getting good advice.

3) Choose an advisor who focuses on your niche - An advisor that specializes in your industry will speak your language, understand your business concerns, and know the competitive umbrella your business operates under. If you’re lucky, he’ll have some great industry contacts too.

4) Find an advisor through SCORESCORE Counselors to America’s Small Business is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate entrepreneurially-minded individuals nationwide in the creation, growth, and success of small businesses. With over 11,200 volunteers nationwide, SCORE offers free help with small business planning and other advice. Find a SCORE advisor through the website’s handy search function or visit your local SCORE office.

5) Check out the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) – Founded in 1997, the WABC is an international association aimed at the leadership and development of worldwide business coaching. The WABC requires rigorous membership requirements based upon coaching experience, references, and business expertise. With over 1,000 business coaches spanning 30 countries, the WABC is a great advisory resource.

6) Search BusinessAdviser - BusinessAdviser.com is an independent consultancy international businesses directory. Search by location, firm or specialty.

7) Ask for referrals - Last but not least, ask your mentors, work associates, and members of social networks who they have used and would recommend in a business advisor capacity.

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