By Stuart Hartley @anglestuart
Maybe you are reading this pondering how on earth you can fill the various gaps you have in your business skills. OK, you have started your business doing something that you really enjoy doing, however you now find yourself having to be the Finance Director, the Marketing Director, the Operations Director, the Director of Human Resources, Director of Sales as well as being the Managing Director and probably juggling some sort of production / service delivery and managing to have a work life balance. Away from the issues of time management there are also all of the knowledge and skills to either be aware of or very quickly learn.
The first thing to realise when you start and run a business is that it’s OK not to know everything. Just because you are running your own business does not mean that you are magically expected to have all of the skills required.
So what do we do then when we have this eureka moment of realising what you know and what you don’t know. Firstly write it down. Identify what your strengths are both in terms of subject specific issues like marketing, social media etc and in terms of industry knowledge and connections. Once you have made an HONEST appraisal you should be able to identify the actual gaps in your knowledge.
Some of these gaps can be filled by attending training sessions or even self-directed learning. My advice here is only fill the gaps that you want to. If you have a real passion for wanting to learn more about marketing (and from a personal perspective I can understand why you would) do then find out more. However if it’s not something you are keen on I would say admit defeat and find someone that might be able to help plug that gap. The important caveat to note here though is that an advisor should not really “do it for you” they should provide you with the necessary advice and guidance to allow you to do it yourself.
The cost of employing an advisor or consultant will be more visible than the benefits, at least at first, however the benefits over the long term should considerably outweigh the costs.
Finding the right advisor or consultant for your business is vital. It’s not only a case of checking their credentials – their ability and knowledge, and ensuring this matches your requirements but most importantly it’s about them “getting you” as one of my clients put it. Personalities should match or be complimentary and they should be able to easily understand the personality of the business, its vision and values. With this simply trust your instincts.
Consider who they have worked with in the past and how that worked out. Client testimonials on their website are a good start here. However do not just rely on the testimonials published. Try and contact the people that have placed the testimonial and ask them about the work they did. Work on recommendation from others if that’s possible, especially if the others are of similar persuasion.
How much should you pay? Unfortunately that’s a difficult question to answer. Despite the cutbacks in the Business Link service and the subsequent reduction in the number of “on the ground” advisors available for free there are still local, regional and national programmes of support that can provide advisors for free or at a subsidised rate. Here in Corby, Northamptonshire try Enterprise4Corby who provide free advisors for pre start, early start and high growth businesses. Aside from the free and subsidised support advisors would usually charge upwards of £50 per hour with some charging up to £250 per hour.
As with all business decisions, the key is value for money. A day or two of the right advice even at £250 per hour could be worth £1000’s in reduced costs or increased sales and profits. However many days help from someone incompetent may cost you not only by paying them but also by harming your business. The old adage “you get what you pay for” in this case is likely to be true!
For more information about how Angle Technologies bank of consultants could help your business contact me.