If you’re like many business owners I’ve worked with you’ve had mixed or even horrible results working with outside advisors. It’s easy to place all the blame on those advisors. After all, aren’t they supposed to know what they’re doing?
If instead you decide to take responsibility for the success or failures that happen with these relationships there’s a good chance you’ll get much better results. If this sounds like something you would like to learn more about, read on.
First, know what you want from an advisor.
This might be the golden rule of working successfully with outside advisors.
When you hire someone to come to work with your company what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like many business owners you put together a job description. Doesn’t it make sense that you do this with your outside advisors.
You don’t have to write a detailed job description. You do and should write a one-page document that just has bullet points about what you want the advisor to do, what your definition of success is and how you want to be treated.
If you do this, you’ll likely get a great return for the few minutes it’ll take you to write the list.
Be clear why you want help.
I love to ask the question why. It’s something that can help you keep those you work with focused on your outcome.
I don’t want you to ask why you want an advisor once. I want you to ask why at least three times and preferably five times before you become satisfied with your answer.
Once you get a great why, make sure you share this with your advisors. They’ll know what you expect and it’ll be easier for them to fill your needs.
If you find your advisor starts arguing with you about your why, become very skeptical. It might be time to end your relationship with that advisor and find someone who’s happy to let you stay in control of the relationship.
Never believe an advisor who tells you they can do everything.
This is a real issue many CPA’s have. You don’t want your advisor to help you get an outcome unless they’re really good at what they do.
Most competent advisors will have at least a working knowledge of almost anything you want to accomplish. This doesn’t mean you’re going to want them to work on projects where they can talk a good game but haven’t actually done it.
I know that more often than not I’ll tell a client I know what they should be doing and at the same time there are others who would be better at working on a specific project. I might even help find and manage the advisor.
I’m not going to try to deliver work that I’m not excellent at. And you should demand no less from those you work with.
Be willing to take ownership of the project.
Too many times I see business owners hire an advisor and then abdicate all oversight to the advisor they hire. This is a huge mistake.
You or someone on your staff needs to be the team leader for projects that involve outside advisors. No matter how competent your outside advisors are they will never be experts on what makes your company tick.
It’s crucial that you stay in control of your projects.
If you’re not getting what you want, speak up!
This is another mistake I often see business owners make. Advisors can sometimes be bully’s. They will act like they know better and instead of stopping the advisor; a business owner will just go along with the belief that the advisor knows best.
Don’t ever adopt that belief. You need to take ownership of any projects you have. If you’re not getting what you want, stop the process and find out how you can get what you deserve.
Sometimes you’re going to have to stop the entire process, fire your advisor and start over again. Don’t be afraid to do this.
I know that you’ve spent money and you don’t want to waste it. I can tell you that if you allow an advisor to give you what you don’t want, you’re going to end up spending much more money in the long run.
When you take responsibility for the engagement, life changes.
The bottom line here is that you need to be responsible for what happens with your outside advisors. If you get great results, it’s because you’re managing your projects well. If you’re not getting what you want, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself one of my favorite questions, “What did I learn?”
When you take responsibility for how you interact with your advisors, you’ll find your outcomes are better and you even get to your result more quickly. Doesn’t this sound like something that makes sense to you?
Let me know what you think about this in the comments below.