Seven things to ask a Business Adviser

George Derbyshire, chief executive of the NFEA, the national enterprise network, highlights the seven questions any business start-up should ask a business adviser before they get too involved.

10th March 2009 at 2:50 pm

1. Are you a SFEDI qualified business adviser?

SFEDI is responsible for the National Occupational Standards which all professional business advisers should be familiar with and have been successfully assessed against.

2. What are your specialisms?

There’s a lot to be said for advisers with a wide general knowledge of business, but others could specialise in an industry sector – manufacturing, exporting, creative industries for example, or in disciplines such as finance or marketing. One way to find out if you are talking to the right person!

3. Have you run or owned a business yourself?

It’s always good to have “been there and done that” but it is not an absolute essential. After all, you don’t expect your doctor to have personal experience of every illness.

4. What support are you offering?

This is all about time management. Is it a half hour and that’s your lot? Will you be led into a formal training programme? Will you be passed to other people?

5. Are there costs involved?

Some say you get what you pay for, but there is superb free advice available from a range of sources. Just be clear what you are getting into!

6. Are you part of a network or larger organisation?

Sometimes the personal chemistry just doesn’t work. So can you be passed to another adviser and start again? Are there colleagues who could advise you on their specialisms if necessary?

7. What do you want from me?

Remember, you are embarking on a two way relationship. To get the most from it, there needs to be clear expectations on both sides, so give your adviser an opportunity to say what he or she needs from you to be most effective.

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George Derbyshire

George Derbyshire is chief executive of the NFEA - the national enterprise network. Its members, drawn from local enterprise agencies & enterprise support organisations, provide independent and impartial advice, training & mentoring to businesses. NFEA recently launched ACT a network for like-minded professionals who offer services such as advice, coaching, mentoring and training to those starting & running small businesses.

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  1. Gill Hunt gillhunt says:

    I’d add that you should check whether your advisor is linked to any specific suppliers. For example, if you’re looking for advice on what IT systems to install check if the advisor is a partner of a particular software or hardware company. This may not be a bad thing but if you want truly independent advice you may want to look for someone who isn’t affiliated to a particular supplier

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