I heard a small business adviser on the radio the other day dishing out advice on starting your own business. He was talking about the many people who have got retrenched from large companies in recent months and now might be considering starting something of their own.
He started out positively enough but soon he was making starting and running a small business seem such a terribly difficult thing to do that I began to wonder what his potential consulting customers must think when they hear all of this.
When he selected an example of a well known US small business adviser I had my doubts. Couldn’t this person who claims to be a small business adviser of standing come up with local examples of business people? Yes, small business owners may hit walls in the growth and management of their operations but to talk about banging their heads on desks in pain and frustration makes it all sound so negative.
It got me thinking about the kind of small business adviser I would like to assist me in my business. Right off I’d rather work with a small business consultant that has local experience and uses local examples to make their point. I’d rather work with someone who has consulted with more than 2,000 small businesses and has interest in small businesses of their own. I’d like to hear their success stories as well as their failures and how they were overcome.
Each small business is very different from others. You can’t always apply the same lessons learnt from one business to another. Each business also operates in a different domain or industry area that often has its own dynamics.
The business adviser I would prefer is someone who acknowledges that they have little experience in the field where my business is operating. In this instance, I would respect them more if they sent me or suggested another business adviser who has more experience and expertise in my field of business. It would also show me that the small business adviser has more interest in my business well-being than their own back pocket.
Last year a small business owner approached me about helping her customers who have not fully developed their own business concept, which is making it difficult for her to supply services to them that would assist their business. These start-up and small business owners need help and advice with taking their business ideas and developing them further into viable business propositions. It’s possible to assist these type of businesses to commercialise their ideas and put proper business planning and resources in place to grow their business.
Yet other would-be business owners that have come from the ranks of those recently retrenched would be better served by going to a personal coach I know who could work with them on their interests and life purpose before they jump into any small business out of sheer desperation.
The other thing that I would want from a small business adviser is to be given a solution that applies to my circumstances and not to any other small business owner. I’m so sick and tired of cookie cutter, cut-and-paste and copycat “solutions” that are shoved in front of me. Just think about your bank, financial services adviser or marketing consultant who pushes out the same advice to 100 other clients. The advice begins to sound the same, is bland and dreary and unimaginative. I’m not interested in getting the same solution that everybody else is getting. How effective can that be?
The small business adviser I would like to deal with would not treat me as a customer but as a fellow business person who is human, flawed and needs clear advice and sensible guidelines for taking their business further in this economy.