Whether you’ve recently started your first business or are a seasoned business owner, a knowledgeable guide can make your journey much smoother. Sometimes you struggle with how to meet your profit goals, while other times, rapid expansion causes growing pains. Other times, new challenges, competitors and business regulations arise that you need to navigate. The trusted expertise of a business advisor can help guide small business owners on the right track for growth. Learn what to look for in a business advisor and how to choose the right one for your company.
If you’ve considered consulting a business advisor, a quick Google search will prove that there are many. The term business advisor can be used by people in a wide variety of disciplines from marketing to staffing, so if you’re looking specifically for financial support, be specific about your needs. A business advisor in the financial services realm can essentially fill the role of a CFO, who a larger company would have on staff. When you need more than just a tax preparer, but are not ready to add a financial executive role to your staff, you need a business advisor.
Below are a few types of services that business advisors offer. Before you hire someone, take the time to talk through all of your needs and ensure that they can provide your business with the right services.
Ensuring that your business is compliant with all regulations, tax filings and accounting statements is a big undertaking, with lots of high-risk consequences if you don’t maintain good standing. An experienced financial business advisor can help upkeep compliance tasks — and a particularly good advisor will be able to guide you through the essentials that you need to know and provide further insight on the numbers that have an impact on your business.
Analyzing your business financials isn’t a simple task, and it can be even more challenging when you don’t have the skills to effectively manage your numbers. A financial business advisor can help streamline your accounting by assessing all the information you currently have, help you manage your expenses and profit margins and give you good numbers upon which you can make good decisions.
An accountant can help find areas where you can minimize business taxes, but a financial business advisor can go one step further by taking a holistic approach. Small businesses often miss out on opportunities to cut costs and expand their business. Financial business advisors can create a tax plan that aligns with your business goals — whether it’s to secure bank financing or build out your exit strategy.
You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your business and by proactively making the right steps, you can make those investments continue working for you when you’re eventually ready to sell, retire or hand over the reins. A financial business advisor can strategically look at your business plan and make recommendations on how to continue building value into your company so that no matter what you decide to do in the future, you can keep as much of the money you’ve earned and deserve.
An engaged business advisor will become an extension of your team. In order to find the right fit, it’s important to ask the right questions to assess whether this is a relationship worth investing time and money into. Before your initial consultation, whether it’s face-to-face or over the phone, you should write down a list of questions. Below are a few key questions to help get you started.
Ask about years of experience, degrees and certifications. If you’re unsure about what a certain qualification actually means, you can always ask and a reputable advisor will be happy to explain. You can also check the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s database to get a general understanding of what an advisor’s credentials, and the initials after their name mean.
If you’re ready to put your trust in an advisor, it’s important to get a thorough understanding of who that advisor has helped in the past and the results that those clients realized. You may also want to ask if they have worked with businesses like yours in the past. Although many aspects of smart financial management apply across industries, it could be advantageous if the advisor has familiarity with your industry.
One of the large drivers for small business owners considering a business advisor is capped bandwidth. Ask your potential advisor exactly how they can help with that. An experienced professional will be able to walk you through how they can help take some of the load of your plate so that you can focus on what you do best. The last thing that you want is a business advisor that ends up creating unnecessary work for you.
A good consultant knows that they cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to offering strategic professional guidance. This is an important question to understand an advisor’s process for working with a client, what traits they value, and their listening skills. There are many advisors who simply direct what should be done. A truly good advisor will actively listen to your issues, ask you questions, and provide recommendations from there.
When you pull someone into the inner workings of your business, it’s a big step. While business conversations and connections happen virtually all the time, there are benefits to building a partnership with someone who is local to you. Choosing a local business advisor allows for the opportunity to meet in person, which is ideal for collaborative problem-solving, complex conversations, or discussing sensitive information. And no matter how technology advances, there’s a certain intrinsic value in interacting with someone face to face that a computer screen cannot replicate.
Additionally, choosing an advisor local to you means that they likely have local business contacts that they can connect you with. Connections and resources like that are invaluable and could make a big impact for your business.
If you are a Tampa Bay business owner who could use personalized guidance on financial planning, compliance, tax efficiency or finance organization, reach out to BAAP CPA today for your free consultation.