5 qualities to look for in a business advisor

A team meeting, looking over the shoulder of a man in a grey top who has notes and files in front of him.

Life as a business owner isn’t easy but there are people out there ready to help. Accountants keeping you compliant is essential, but there’s so much more they can offer you. Trained business advisors can hold your hand through the tough times, and aid you in navigating past trip hazards along your journey. Look out for these qualities when selecting your advisor and you can’t go wrong.

1. They’re future-focused

Looking ahead at future projections will help you achieve your goals. When choosing your advisor, make sure they are looking to the future every step of the way. Looking back is a traditional way of working, and while trends and patterns can be identified, you may risk missing out on future sales peaks.
Forecasting will show you where you need to save your cash, and where you can afford to spend it more liberally. Using scenario planning can give you best, middle and worst case scenarios for any decision-making you need to do. Firms using tools with these capabilities are the ones to look out for – they’ll be running your accounts based on real-time data, so can steer you past obstacles coming up on the horizon.

2. They have a strategic mind

Knowing how to dodge obstacles in business and how to make the most of your assets are two critical parts of being an advisor. A great advisor will ask you about both your professional and personal goals. Creating bespoke key performance indicators for your business based on both heightens your chances of succeeding in both areas.
A great example of this in practice comes from UK firm The Peloton. Marketing Manager Anna Carthew told us their advisors make real relationships with clients and want to help people achieve their goals. She said,

“We make the targets personal so the clients really get what they want to get out of it, so we might measure things like how much time they’re saving this week to spend with their kids.”

The majority of entrepreneurs and business owners will have started their venture for both professional and personal success. Over time, focuses shift, so the ability to dictate targets which add to your end-goal is invaluable.

3. They’re a specialist or work in a niche

It’s not always possible, but if you can find a specialist advisor in your industry then definitely consider their services. They would have already worked with similar businesses, therefore know what works and what doesn’t.
Leveraging their knowledge will help you sustainably grow your business. When accountants specialise, they’re usually fully immersed in the given industry, making them a reliable source for advice or problem-solving.
Of course, sometimes a different perspective can be beneficial for business. If you find an advisor you get on well with, but they have limited experience in your field, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Remember though, niche advisors can be a blessing, so if you find one, definitely try and find out more.

4. They keep in regular contact

It’s essential to find someone who will keep you in the loop about your finances constantly. A slight dip in spending, or a huge cash injection? Proactive advisors will be there on the phone letting you know.
Your advisor will be monitoring your forecast so if you’re considering investing in a new piece of kit, for example, will tell you if this is actually a good idea, and scenario planning can help you make the decision. Alerts will let you know if you’re about to burn through your buffer limitations, so these tricky decisions become easy to manage.

5. They have a strong brand and referrals

Referrals are the number one way firms win new clients. This means it should be easy to find a fellow business owner who would recommend a great advisor. If you’re feeling a little lost, get out to industry networking events, pop into a local business or simply look online for similar companies and try and work out which firm is likely to nurture your venture. When advisors really care, it’s clear. Most will be happy to give you a bit of advice if you give them a call.

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