How to Find a Trusted Advisor. In Blackboard Fridays Episode 15, Jacob talks about Leadership. Need this implemented into your business? Talk to the international business advisor who can do exactly that – Contact Jacob, Learn More, or Subscribe for Updates.
Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?
“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.”
Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.
At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.
You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.
Do you have a Trusted Advisor in your business?
My name is Jacob Aldridge – whether it’s my current role as an International Business Coach, or past responsibilities as the Director of Advisory at businessDEPOT, Global Partner at Shirlaws Group, or State Operations Manager for Harcourts, I’ve worked with more than 350 business owners across Australia and around the world.
Many of them view me as their trusted advisor. But what does that actually mean?
In my experience, being a business owner’s most trusted advisor means that when they have a question, a drama, something that’s keeping them up at night or bothering them during the day, they know that they can pick up the phone, call me, and we can have an important conversation to help them resolve that issue.
There are a lot of other business owners who would like a trusted advisor; and many who feel that they have a “trusted advisor” but that person (often because of their other business commitments) isn’t quite helping them enough.
In this week’s Blackboard Fridays video, I wanted to share the 6 criteria that I see a proper trusted advisor brings to your business. And I wanted to give you some tips about how you can go out and find individuals that may fill that role for your business and (more importantly) for you.
Criteria 1-3: Guidance
A trusted advisor is somebody who brings both Guidance and Understanding to your business.
I break it down into 3 categories under each of those headings.
So Guidance is where the advisor part really comes in.
1. Guidance around the Content. They understand the stuff in your business. They’ll never know your business as well as you do but they’ve got some idea of the industry and how the business works.
I don’t believe that a good advisor needs to have worked in your industry before – in fact, after the Start-up Phase a mentor or coach who has only worked in your industry can be a risk. But if they don’t have that specific experience, they need to have the smarts and the toolkit to come up to speed quickly.
If you’re constantly having the translate industry jargon so your advisor understands, then the guidance they can bring will be limited.
2. More importantly than Content, a good advisor must understand the power of Context in business.
Context sits around the Content. It explains why stuff happens. It’s critical to your decision making as a leader — spending more time in the Context, working on the business, and less time in the Content working in the business. A trusted advisor will help pull you into that context to make better decisions faster.
3. Lastly, for true Guidance your trusted advisor will bring Solutions. There’s no point having an advisor who is a classic business coach that sees their role is coming in and asking you all the questions. That’s why I’m a firm believer that pure business coaching is a waste of money for SMEs – you don’t know what you don’t know. You need somebody who can come in and help fill the gap in your expertise, who can bring solutions even if they still go through some Contextual Frameworks to make sure that those solutions work for you.
Criteria 4-6: Understanding
Your Trusted Advisor must also understand you and understand your business.
4. They need Knowledge—knowledge about what’s going on, what’s going on to the team, what’s going on for you personally. The reason I still have relationships with my clients 5, 10, 15+ years after working with them is because I take the time to understand them on that personal level and then understand what they want to achieve with their business as part of their overall life.
5. They need to have Empathy. They need to really be able to understand what you are going through at an emotional level – because in private enterprise how the business owner or partners feel has a huge impact on the communication and decision-making which takes place.
As with the Content, they won’t know your business as well as you do – but if they can understand and feel what you are going through at any point in time (and this is the excitement of opportunity as much as the frustration or pains of a bad month), then your advisor is going to be able to help you a whole lot more.
When was the last time your accountant, lawyer, or mentor asked you how you felt? If they avoid that area of your life … how can you trust them to understand your business?
6. The final criteria is Presence. Your Trusted Advisor needs to be involved in your life and your business. You can’t have a trusted advisor that you just call up like a mortgage broker once every three or four years and ask them a question – because they won’t know what’s going on.
They need to have an ongoing presence in your life. Most of my alumni clients are surprised at the generosity of my Client for Life programme, where I’m happily meeting them for coffee or jumping onto video calls at no cost for years after we worked together. I do this because I genuinely care, and also from a commercial context because when they and their business are ready for the next growth push you can guarantee they’ll engage the international business coach who still has a presence in their lives.
Why Trusting Your Accountant to Advise is a Mistake
For many small business owners, their accountant is the closest they get to a trusted advisor.
Great accountants (and I’ve worked with a few) can certainly fill that role. BUT a lot of accountants end up there by default.
They have some (4) knowledge about your business because they have the numbers, they have a light (6) presence because they do your BAS/VAT every quarter or your tax return every year, and of course through their experience they know some of the (1) content and the (3) solutions that go on in businesses like yours.
Stereotypically, one thing very few accountants have ever been accused of is having an awful lot of (5) empathy. And as an expert you pay to monitor the details, how well can you expect them to bring you the (2)context and big picture thinking that you need to do something different.
Most accountants would actually make great business advisors, and thanks to technology improvements from cloud software to AI this is the direction the accounting industry is moving towards. But right now the accounting business model doesn’t support them to deliver – when profitability forces them to build a team and handle hundreds of clients, you can’t expect them to answer the phone with wisdom every time you call.
If your accountant is your trusted advisor by default, have a look at these 6 criteria. If they’re delivering in all areas, well done! If not, consider who can supplement their insight to improve your business outcomes.
How do I find a Trusted Advisor for my Business?
So how do you find a trusted advisor for your business?
The best thing you can do is talk to other business owners that you know about who they have helping them. If you are in relationship with a successful business owner that you like, and they have a great advisor relationship, then chances are you will have a great relationship with that individual as well. The Trusted Advisor is a personal connection, not something you can randomly google and take the first result.
Compared to when I started in business, there is a wealth of business content available online. Great podcasts, blogs, video series on YouTube, and websites where you can find a whole lot of information – and sometimes that can be a great way to find a trusted advisor.
Instead of just looking for a trusted advisor, go looking for some solutions to the problems you’re having – and see who you can find that has experience in that regard. You can get a feel from them through their presence online, then at the very least you’ll know whether it’s worth having a conversation with them about whether they could be the trusted advisor you need.
Some categories you may want to explore are:
One More Thing…
The last thing I’ll share is that Presence does not need to be physical. Gone are the days where it had to be the local bank manager in your town just because that was the only person you could see.
Since 2010 I’ve been working with clients around the world, and especially since the pandemic there are other great business advisors, coaches, and consultants from all around the world who work with business owners here where I’m based. Presence doesn’t need to be physical anymore.
You can find the right person who brings:
- Empathy, and
to your business.
Wherever they happen to be in the world, congratulations you have found your trusted advisor—someone you can call, someone who can help you when you need it most.
And that, almost more than anything else in business, is worth its weight in gold.
Want to learn more about how this can apply to your business? It costs nothing to chat:
- Email me email@example.com (I read them all)
- Call, Text, or WhatsApp me +61 427 151 181
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