Many business owners find that despite having run operations in other businesses they feel ill-equipped running their own business. Not having the protection of the umbrella organisation they find it is quite different starting, shaping, growing and planning the exiting of your own business.
This is not surprising, they must know their trade, oversee customer relationships, manage office space, supplies, furniture and technology, coordinate marketing initiatives, hire and pay employees and handle numerous other details.
A business owner said to me, “I know I need help but how do I identify what area I need help in?” Business owners get to the stage in their business when they know they do not know everything; they know there are things they do not know. It becomes tricky to identify what assistance would best serve them and their business.
Mentoring fast tracks small business performance:
- 66% of firms’ turnover improved following the mentoring experience (Nathaly Riverin, 2007)
- 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring services survive for five years or more, which is double the rate for un-mentored entrepreneurs (Melancon and Riverin)
How do you identify your area of need to acquire the right assistance?
1. Write down what you do know: what you can comfortable do, your unique strength and current opportunities, what you have in place and your current focus.
2. Then write done your headline year objective: the areas you are comfortable achieving and the areas of business strength.
3. Finally write down your grey areas or gaps: your areas of concern and discomfort. Out of these gaps write a list the questions that you would like and advisor to help you to answer.
The theme of questions may be in the following areas:
• Growing a business
• Shaping a business for exit
• Knowledge of my industry or similar
• Contacts/connections in my industry
• Mapping out a road map or a growth plan
• Acquiring the right people and managing personnel
• Establishing a cultural identity
• Presenting the businesses to funding sources
• Guiding management strategy
• Influencing board direction and relationships.
In clarifying the area of business need set it in context of current comfort and future discomfort, you identify the specific advice. With this information, you are better armed to find the right a mentor, advisor or consultant whether as an interim, a contractor or in an employee relationship. At some stage, all growth businesses need a guiding hand to overcome challenges and grow.
The worst you can do in securing assistance is contract a relationship without setting the parameters of the relationship. All my contractual relationship start with an in-depth evaluation to define the need and then establish and agree stated outcomes. I find this helps my clients clarify not only their needs but also commit to achieving the stated outcomes.
It is a tall order to expect one person whether owner, manager, mentor or advisor to know it all. Good advice does not need to be ground-breaking but it is timely and the right fit for the business need. There is real value in taking the time to understand the specific need of the business to ensure you secure the right relationship and achieve the desired outcome.
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