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What (or Who) Makes a Truly Great Business Advisor?

Even well-intentioned friends can become advisors to your business, despite the fact they may not have any relevant experience. But what are the key differences separating a great business advisor from a mediocre one?

Finding the Right Person for the Job

Here’s some of the factors that I think are important:

1. Exposure to a variety of scenarios and situations in the business world.

2. The ability to synthesize information learned from relevant experience with the current context faced by the business. Then, being able to form a pragmatic recommendation based on sound assessment.

3. The ability to communicate in a way that is easily understood.

4. To help provide a pathway to achieve the desired outcome, taking into account the resources available to the business.

So, based on these factors, would an accountant or a solicitor make a good business advisor? I believe yes, providing the individual is able to do all the above in a way that is understandable and can provide the ‘light bulb’ moment. Most will profess to be able to do that, but not all can.

It’s like I always say, “The right business advisor can take your business from good to great

The Things to Look for

How then would you go about assessing whether a certain party would make a good business advisor? I Here’s a few useful things to look for when seeking professional advisory help:

Ability to work with you
You’ve got to feel comfortable with the person you are going to work with. You need to be able to trust them, as you will be revealing confidential information about your business. If you’re not comfortable with the Business Coach, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to help you on any meaningful level.

Business Model
What is the main cash-flow generating activity of the business you are looking at? If their main arena is via an area other than business consulting, then it is likely that their expertise is predominantly based in that area. Try looking for an organisation that has a track record of working with companies from a business perspective.

Experience
Do they have the breadth of exposure to business that you require? Do they have an in-depth knowledge of working in various stages of business growth and will they be able to work with you from an experienced perspective? Experience is vital – you want to know that they’ve succeeded with others before you can trust their advice.

Is MLM A Real Business?

I was pottering about on Facebook over the weekend (like you do) and noticed that one of my friends had recently ventured into the work of MLM and my heart sank, because I have a thing about MLM.

In a nutshell, I simply can’t see it as a real business. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to get my head round it, but I always come to the same conclusion.

Before I launch into all the reasons why I feel the way I do, I firstly want to apologise to all the people I know who are already involved in MLM and please, don’t take this as a personal slight on your abilities. I want to stress that I’m talking in general terms here and so it should, in no way, be seen as a reflection on you as an individual. I’m simply putting my opinion across and hope you won’t take it as personally – please keep reading and I’ll explain myself.

For those of you who have been living on another planet for the last few years MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing. Some call it Network Marketing, but it basically amounts to the same thing;

“A sales force compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit”

Thank you Wikipedia.

We’ve all come across it, even if we didn’t know what it was, as there’s an awful lot of it about, with the most high-profile MLM businesses being Utility Warehouse, Arbonne and Juice-Plus, although there’s many, MANY more out there you may well have come across.

I also have to admit that MLM has moved on significantly from the old “pyramid selling” idea and, thankfully, the majority of illegal pyramid (Ponzi) schemes have been shut down – although there are one or two causing havoc on Facebook at the moment, it has to be said. I also have to acknowledge that commission structures bearing more than a small resemblance to the MLM format are operated in a not insignificant number of large companies to reward their sales force, so there must be something in it.

So why do I dislike it so much?

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that my main issue is not with MLM itself, but the people who do it, because it’s simplicity and promises of untold wealth make it seem so very, very easy and, tempted by the idea of loads of free time, little or no effort and easy gains, MLM seems to attract an awful lot of people who;

  • Have little or no business experience
  • Have no experience of developing business relationships
  • Have no sales experience
  • Have no business development experience
  • Have failed at running their own business

Once again, I issue an unreserved apology to those I know in MLM to whom none of the above apply, but I have to say they are few and far between – out of all my network of MLM people, I can probably count the individuals who really seem to know what they’re doing on one hand. Unfortunately, too many networking meetings are now overrun with MLM’s and the majority of them are guilty of over-promising and overselling the potential rewards and therefore coming over as desperate as a result.

MLM is essentially a sales role and yes, if you don’t sell, then you don’t make any money, but are you really running a business? Are you any different to an employed sales person who works on commission only? Granted, there aren’t many of those roles left, but they do still exist and there aren’t many left because people don’t want to do them. Is MLM just a way for big companies to utilise a cheap sales force? I’m struggling to see it any other way.

And then there are those MLM schemes that don’t actually sell a product, they sell a “business opportunity of a life-time” – and this is exactly what my friend seems to have signed up for.

Alarm bells are going off all over the place, particularly when their Facebook post says you have to follow the link and “sign up” if you want to find out what it’s all about.

What? Is that really good business practice?

If the person I mentioned at the outset was truly confident of what they were selling, would they be making everyone who enquired part with their name, email address and phone number just to find out what the “opportunity” was? I have to say I’m really not a fan of the cloak and dagger approach.

I can’t help thinking how my business would be faring if I asked every potential client to hand over all this information before I would even tell them what I do. I’m actually laughing at how that would be received… still laughing… although it’s not actually funny at all, just scary.

And how many times have we all been persuaded to impart all these details only to then find our inboxes bombarded with spam emails tempting us with the “opportunity of a lifetime”, Perhaps it’s taking over from emails telling you you’ve inherited a fortune from the Nigerian royal family…

I have the biggest issue with people who “also do” MLM as a side-line to their main business. Come on, if your own business is doing so well, how the heck can you find the time to do something totally unrelated? And why would you need to anyway? I mean, if you’re a Tax consultant, why oh why would you be selling tablets that go in your petrol tank to get you more miles to the gallon? If you’re a web designer, why sell little capsules of dried fruit and veg which supposedly cure all sorts of ills?

Okay, if you’re a personal trainer selling Juice-plus, or a garage promoting fuel-tabs, I can sort of see the point, but otherwise, what were you thinking?

All this says to me is “my main business isn’t making enough money, so I’ll find something else for a quick win” and that won’t do a whole lot for your professional integrity. If you need more money, you’d be far wiser investing your time and energies in doing what you supposedly do best, and work on ways to run your existing business better!!! But I’m just a business development specialist, so what the heck would I know…

While doing research for this article, I came across a whole host of websites hosted by people who feel the same as I do, so it appears I’m not alone. And I also found this very accurate quote;

“And sales position that suggests you convert your customers into your competitors is admitting that there is actually no real money to be made selling the product”

Hmmm… They might have a point.

Create Marketing Routines to Grow a Successful Business

Routines are good for business! They keep us on track and organized, are set tasks that we can work our schedules around, can help us set reasonable timelines, and are usually accomplished from memory without much thought. Without them essential business and marketing tasks wouldn’t happen regularly – and regularity is a must for a growing business. Which marketing business tasks are important enough to establish routines for so we stay focused? Social Media, Blogs and Websites, and Networking.

Why Social Media? Because that’s where the people are! Think about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the ever popular Instagram – who’s using these platforms? People. How many people are using these platforms? Millions of people you want to know your business is alive and contacting just a small group of the right people will keep your business successful. The social media multitudes are a sharing bunch of potential business that if contacted regularly, would love to get the word out about your business once they connect with you. Getting past any fears about social media and setting a routine of daily social interactions will keep this very important task handled each daily.

Blogs and Websites. It’s very important that we have a daily routine of managing our blogs and websites as our marketing materials and social media pages all point potential customers back to our sites for more information about our company and our services. Our routines should include viewing the site daily to ensure it is loading correctly, that the social media widgets are functioning correctly, making sure links are working, adding quick tips to our sidebars, or adding new blog or website posts. Keep in mind that a solid, active online presence means credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Make sure their first impression with your blog or website is a positive one by setting daily routines for site maintenance.

Networking. Often the focus in marketing is our online presence but our in-person presence is just as important. Face time with other business owners is very important for sanity reasons, to share and take in knowledge, and expose our business to decision makers that rely on personal interactions to make decisions about vendors and companies they contract with for services. This area is not to be neglected and it should be our routine to participate in networking meetings each month, set a number of contact goals for each meeting, and establish follow-up routines after each meeting to stay top of mind.

Growing a business is serious business! Incorporating routines into our daily work life are most important to attain the type of business growth we desire. Social media, blogs and websites, and networking are just a few of the marketing tasks we have to routinely handle daily to keep ourselves on track and organized – something absolutely vital to our continued success. Routines are good for business! Make sure your routines are solid, regular, and designed to keep your business active, credible, and growing.