Every business owner considers bringing in outside expertise at one time or another; sometimes it is in the form of a financial, sales or marketing professional, or sometimes it’s a strategic business-planning advisor.
There are literally thousands of experts to choose from, but when is the right time to hire one and why? In my 30 years’ experience working with business owners, I often hear how important they feel it is for them to have a person they can confide in and rely on to help them in making business decisions on everything from employee management practices and operations to office locations and strategic growth plans.
Business advisors can help your company in various ways—from guiding strategic thinking to helping you get “unstuck” in your business progress. I’ve outlined five key reasons why you might want to consider bringing in outside expertise into your company:
- An unbiased party. A good business advisor always invests time and intellectual capital in their clients. They come to the organization without the “baggage” of personnel issues, board pressure, organizational history, or the impact of past decisions. Imagine the value of having an independent expert who has the ability to look at circumstances and situations without bias.
- Specific expertise. An advisor is like a specialist that doesn’t reside in house. This is particularly relevant if you have few staff as there will be times when, for instance, you need market research, a marketing plan, or a strategic business plan, and it just doesn’t make financial sense to carry that level of staff expertise on a full-time basis.
- Divergent opinion. Advisors facilitate divergent opinions into a strategy or work plan much more easily than an internal person would because they have expertise gained by working with multiple organizations. They have formed opinions and can synthesize what they hear into something workable for your team. They can easily cross organizational boundaries or work between staff and departments to build bridges.
- A different perspective. Sometimes an outsider’s opinion is more valuable than those expressed by staff. This is not necessarily because advisors have a better crystal ball, but rather because they provide a fresh look. Often, an advisor’s perspective is what’s necessary to convince senior executives to move forward on an issue that’s difficult, such as expense reduction or income diversification.
- An impartial and expert opinion. Ever revisit the same problem with the same set of solutions? Because advisors are not attached to one organization, advisors see many different organizational models and many different solutions to common problems. While you certainly should expect a customized solution to your particular problem, isn’t it intuitively better to tackle problems armed with the collective thinking of many organizations and the knowledge of their successes? An impartial and expert opinion by an advisor provides a “due-diligence” perspective that neither volunteers nor staff can supply.
Do you think it’s time to hire an external expert? If so, what has lead to this decision? If not, do you think you may consider this in the future? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.