Business Advisor – Beata Drzazga talks about the role of an advisor in implementing an effective business strategy and using proven tools.
Business mentoring is a huge market. How to find something really valuable in a maze of thousands of books, courses and tutorials?
Indeed, this knowledge has a different value. We must coldly try to assess the adviser’s competence. Remember that the crowd on the market is huge, anyone can write and publish a book, e-book or record a podcast. As a result, even outstanding specialists find it difficult to break through. But not only do they have a problem, it is also difficult for clients, especially those with little experience in business. They don’t know how to choose a counselor and often make mistakes.
First of all, we must answer the question of what help we need. Many advisers specialize in the subject of motivation and self-improvement, some try to organize the approach to soft elements of management, others choose hard elements and want to help clients evaluate their business models. In my opinion, the mentoring program should be comprehensive. First of all, its task is to answer the question whether the business model makes sense (does it answer the buyers’ needs, or does the company have an advantage over others in terms of satisfying them). Secondly, will the generated financial flows be able to ensure profitability, and thirdly, will the company have the tools and resources to implement the established strategy (soft elements also come into play here).
Does a reliable business advisor have to be able to demonstrate their own business successes?
Management theorists and scientists are sometimes authors of fantastic concepts. Many of them have no business experience, and I don’t think that’s a problem. However, there is always the question of whether they will be able to reach novice entrepreneurs with their knowledge. It is often the case that someone is needed to translate their knowledge into an understandable language. Today it is difficult to imagine a strategic analysis of a company without the use of Michael Porter’s concept, although he has no business experience – he has worked as a scientist and consultant all his life.
This is not the case with Dale Carnegie. His absolutely fundamental book, published under the Polish title “How to win friends and win over people”, was written on the basis of his professional life experiences. He became a successful salesperson and the money saved allowed him to pursue a career as a writer, speaker and business coach. Carnegie focused mainly on the soft aspects of interpersonal relationships, while Porter dealt with hard elements such as profitability and efficiency. In order to be successful in business, we must pay attention to both spheres, combine theoretical knowledge with everyday practice.
However, I have the impression that in the case of coaching, we talk more about soft elements.
It is probably true, the domain of coaches known from the media is mainly motivation. Their favorite concepts, such as self improvement, power speech, and higher self, are derived from psychology rather than science. Their training may mobilize managers and employees, but from the point of view of their impact on building a sustainable competitive advantage of the enterprise, their usefulness is limited. A novice entrepreneur needs a more comprehensive service. It should be explained to him that the process of setting up a company is simple, that taxes on individual business activities are still low, that contacts with the Social Insurance Institution or the tax office are not terrible, especially since they are dealt with by an accountant hired for a really small monthly rate. Beginning entrepreneurs do often need a bit of motivation, especially when they have spent their entire career full-time and suddenly have to change their point of view, start to grasp the bigger picture. These needs, however, change as the enterprise gradually matures.
So what does the long-term cooperation between the mentor and the client look like? Does its role diminish over time?
In the initial period of cooperation, the most important role of a business advisor is to confirm that the entire business model of the enterprise makes sense. The basic tools at this stage are various types of tests. They can be conducted internally, then among friends, and then among the first customers. It is also important to effectively search for market niches, as well as to fight for a competitive position within these niches.
As a business matures, its need for business mentoring does not necessarily decrease. Problems arise all the time that are new to the entrepreneur. The consequence of the company’s growth are issues related to human resources management, employees begin to have their own goals, often they are contrary to the interests of other employees or the entire company. Various procedures are needed more and more, and there are also unnecessary costs and unsuccessful projects. The market situation is changing, opportunities are emerging that need to be recognized and taken advantage of, new competitors appear, and the legal environment is changing. All these situations require a reaction and the use of the right tools.
The next set of problems may arise once the enterprise is successful. Its founders may then want to “exit the investment” by finding an investor or going public. These are processes that cannot be carried out without the participation of external advisers.
In summary, at the beginning of the cooperation, the mentor helps the company to survive, then helps it to move up the levels. The mentor is there so that the entrepreneur does not have to learn from his mistakes. It’s always cheaper this way.