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What's the Formula For a Successful Career as a Business Advisor?

Aug 17, 2007
In order to be successful professionally and financially as an advisor to business owners you will have to find a niche of prospects who value the services you offer. You will then need to connect with them regularly and in ways that cause them to automatically think of you when they need whatever it is you have to offer. And finally you will have to deliver your services flawlessly so they will become more than referral sources, they will become your raving fan club.

This is business reality for you just as it is for giant corporations and small businesses alike. There is nothing new here, everybody knows this. So what is the purpose of this article?

It's to get you to think about your potential target market from a different perspective, one that will open your eyes to what your prospects are really looking for. My goal is to help you recognize people all around you that are desperate for your services and get them to recognize you.

It is a well known fact that about 90% of all the companies around the world are privately held, meaning they are owned and/or controlled by a relatively small number of people. Typically these individuals are bound together by much more than the business, they are generally related to one another by blood, marriage, or long term friendships. Many are held together by all three.

There are legions of professionals who work with these types of organizations. I expect you are one of them, even though you may not have thought of it is those terms. Some of you are accountants, or lawyers, or financial planners, or mediators or business and family counselors.

Or you may be a web site designer, Internet strategist, marketing consultant, sales trainer, customer service expert or management consultant. But you have identified your target by their industry or by their place in the chain from manufacturing to retail delivery of their products.

I want you to think of them psychographically, who they are as people and what they have in common with the millions of other companies like theirs.

I expect that you are already successful at what you are now doing, I hope you are because it will help you to recognize the truth of what constitutes the formula for creating a successful career, because you already know it intuitively.

Successful professionals serving business owners have one thing in common. They take the time to understand the owner's and the family's problems and concerns on every level, not just from their own professional perspective, in order to help make decisions that will directly impact the success or failure of the enterprise.

They understand the big picture. They invest the time to know as much as possible about everyone connected to the enterprise, not just what they must know in order to sell their specific services that day. Like the great baseball players, they are always moving toward where the next ball will be headed before it leaves the bat. This is only possible when they can really see the big picture along with their clients.

When problems strike or opportunities present themselves, each member of the family and the organization is affected differently. And their stake in the possible outcomes and their temperament cause them to react differently when things happen.

It is up to you, the successful professional to help establish an environment where these issues can be discussed in a productive atmosphere. You must be trained to help each member uncover and discuss what's important to them in this situation. Then you will be able to help them create actionable strategies to meet this challenge of take advantage of this opportunity, in the context of what's important to everyone and the business as a whole.

There are almost four million companies in the United States alone that have three generations of the family working together simultaneously. That's a lot of opportunities for the enlightened professional. And the number is growing steadily as the successful companies founded in the 70's and 80's are added to the list daily.

Here is what one of them looks like.

The founder, or in many thousands of cases, the founder's son is retired and living in Florida, yet still calls in every day to give advice and ask for an update.

His sister owns a large percentage of the company but has never been involved. His sons are 45, 42 and their cousin 38 run the place with his suggestions. The long time bookkeeper and a key veteran managers keep him in the loop.

The "boys" have seven sisters between them and there are six "kids" involved in the company. These kids, young men and women between 18 and 29 are the offspring of the boys and their sisters. Oh yes, there is one son-in-law, age 40, who is the only person on board with a Masters Degree in Business.

This family is made up of three groups, the senior generation, the successors, and the heirs (the folks who are expecting to inherit their share someday). Each of the groups and the individuals within them have different goals.

A successful family business like this affects each of these people and others too numerous to mention, emotionally, as well as intellectually and financially. Individual objectives, skills, interests, histories, and agendas conspire to complicate matters to the point where nothing is "just business" - it's always tinted with something personal.

They all live, eat, and breathe the excitement, challenge and frustration of their business in an atmosphere where internal forces often overshadow external ones (the business environment in which they operate) making decisions of all kinds hot beds of controversy.

Are you beginning to see where your services fit with one or more member of each group? Doesn't it make sense that if you know what's on the minds of each of them, that your conclusions, your input, and your advice could be crafted to address the needs and desires of each? With the result being a more effective company where every decision is being made for the mutual benefit of everyone. Can you imagine how they would look at you and the role you play?

To successfully help businesses grow; whether it is with their Internet strategy, their management growth, or succession plan, the #1 challenge of the business and those who seek to serve it is to understand the goals and objectives of each group.

Seventy-five percent of the successful businesses do not survive their founder. There are many possible reasons for this, but invariably they have one thing in common. The owners, successors, and heirs have never communicated successfully with each other about their respective expectations. Then, all of a sudden, it's too late. Every member of each family group involved in the business is affected by this lack of communication.

If you work with these companies, no matter what services you provide, you will serve your customers and clients more effectively if you spend the time to see things the way they see them. In the beginning it is not easy and does not come naturally. We are all experts in our own little world and want to make sure our clients know it.

I had always assumed that it was my job to use my vast knowledge and experience, while listening as closely as possible to the family members, to develop the recommendations that would guide their planning process.

I have the advantage of making the discovery over a decade ago, that it was not about me and my advice, it was about them and my ability to be the facilitator who helped them bring it out and discuss it. During that time I have witnessed the real successes of these family companies' as they continue to evolve, adapt, and grow based on decisions I saw them make a decade ago. Long-term success can only be achieved by recognizing the differences in everyone.

No matter your role in the family company; senior generation, successor, advisor, web site designer, or Internet strategist I recommend that you begin by expanding your understanding the strategies for helping people managing the differences between them.

This process continues to teach me how to help family business owners, heirs, successors, managers, and advisors learn to more effectively manage these differences. Creating an atmosphere where planning for the future can take place.

The formula for creating a professional practice is simple but not easy. It is not complicated or I could never have done it. And it will require only your serious commitment in order to archive.

You must first be committed enough in your clients to invest the time it will take to really know them. Investing in them from the beginning will pay dividends in two ways. You will anciently unearth more opportunities for your products and services than you ever thought possible. And you will seal out any possible competition, since they would never go through this process of disclosure a second time.

You must also invest in your own professional growth. I am not suggesting that you will need to know everything the smartest person in your profession knows, I am suggesting rather that you should know your limitations. Once you have your limitations in hand you will know when to ask a colleague for help and when to refer them to a specialist of some sort. Your only objective should be what's best for your client.

Finally you should be willing to invest in additional training that leverages what you already offer. For example an accountant might benefit from a greater understanding of conflict resolution, since the best decisions are those made in a harmonious environment. There are as many ways to combine what you already know with the skills of other professions as their are professional advisors and the individual niches they serve.
About the Author
Wayne Messick is the publisher of www.iBizResources.com If you are a business advisor wanting to maximize your potential,here are strategies we are using to generate record revenues..If you are a business owner wanting to leverage what you are already doing right visit the Peer Groups area of our website.
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