I get this type of question often; even as a mature business, I still get a little discombobulated with where to find “next-level” resources. Here’s the original question: Sherese, I’m very interested in getting help for my established business but honestly I’m not sure where to start.  I’ve been winging it and researching on my own and there are so many coaches, consultants, training classes and so much information that I’m completely overwhelmed and not sure how to decide “how, where, and what help” I need and where I should focus my business activity to move to the next level. I know I’m babbling a little but hopefully you can help.

This article is part of Effició’s asked-and-answered series. This blog series shares the resources, tools, advice, and infrastructure changes you need to address in your business.

It wouldn’t take a lot of energy to look around and find tons of information on business help, business resources, those who can help small businesses, and what those people can help you actually do to improve your business. Here’s an article I wrote a few years back that can guide your first steps to getting the “right” help:

Ten things you need to know about getting the right strategic help for your business:

10 Know that you make the choice, and that choice should be a person and company you respect, admire, and feel comfortable with.

In order to achieve the goals you set, you have to work with someone who you can trust, and feel comfortable with revealing all of your proprietary information to.  Don’t just choose a strategic partner because a successful business uses them or your best friend uses them – you want to work with someone who takes your business just as seriously as you do.  Take the time to evaluate and choose the right strategic partner (if you want a full definition of a strategic partner, call me!) based on your needs.

9 Don’t get caught up with the trends or latest things. 

Instead, get caught up with what’s best for you and your business.  There are new ideas and programs sprouting up every day and it’s easy to get excited or overwhelmed.  It’s OK to stay abreast of the trends, just don’t try them based on your excitement; base it on your strategic direction and most importantly your business model.

8 Only use one resource at a time for strategic help.

It’s important to stay focused and not use many different techniques; you have to stick to your vision and apply any advice you get to that vision.  Keep in mind that if you’re using three different philosophies coming from three different sources then possibly nothing will work.  Don’t make the mistake of trying something without completing it before moving on to the next.  Pick a strategic partner, and stick to their philosophy based on the time frame you choose.  Give the program a chance before deciding to utilize other programs.

7 Be realistic about the budget you have to hire strategic help.

Roughly it will cost you between $195 – $450 per hour to hire a good strategic partner for services.  For a monthly program, your cost will range from $500 to $3200 for a consistent program.  If you don’t have some type of budget allotted before you contact a potential strategic partner, it will probably be better to invest in self-paced programs or free local workshops until you can pull together a nice budget.

6 You have to master the art of asking for exactly what you need.

When determining the right help from the right source you must do your research so that you can ask the right questions based on what you need. We tend to allow others to dictate what to do, where to go, how to do it and even tell us why we should do it.  Don’t get me wrong these are things that we need and will continue to need; but on the other hand, it’s hindered our ability to think for ourselves.

Before you contact a potential strategic partner make sure you know why you’re calling and what you need.  If you’re not sure what you need, make sure you tell them exactly that!

5 Realize that you need to build a strategic team, not just a pool of vendors. 

Try not to only focus on building a list of resources that can help with all aspects of your business. Focus on building a team of experts who understand your vision and what value you bring to your customers.  Make sure they get what you do and really understand where you want to go.  There are a lot of people out there who are just in it for the money; if you’re not satisfied or are not getting what you signed up for, move on to the next expert.  **Make sure to get everything in writing when hiring outside resources.

4 Determine and analyze your weaknesses related to your business. 

As a CEO, it’s imperative to get your skills up to date and to create a format for keeping them up to date as your business evolves.  This is not only beneficial for your business but also personally.   The top three that I get most of the time when I ask, “What are your weaknesses,” are procrastination, laziness, and ‘I don’t know.’

In reality, these are things that people choose to do or be.  We choose to procrastinate, we choose to be lazy, and we choose to say ‘I don’t know.”  The point is we never spend enough time on our weaknesses so we end up developing those skill sets, mindsets, etc. that don’t benefit us the most.  Take the time to correctly determine your weaknesses as it relates to owning a business.  Quick Tip:  To make sure you’re determining your true weaknesses; after you name a weakness ask yourself this question, “Is it a choice?”

3 Determine the type of help you think you need.

There’s strategic help and there’s advisory type of help.  In order to reach your goals and be successful on your terms you need to decipher which help you need and when you need it.  An advisor can be on your Advisory Board, they can be your personal coach, or they can be a group of business colleagues you discuss challenges with.  Effició has an Advisory Board and a Strategic Partner.

If you choose to have advisors in addition to your strategic partner, keep in mind that you have to maintain control over the advice you get from your advisors and the direction you receive from your strategic partner.  Remember, don’t just do something because someone else had success with it; be strategic with your choices and actions, and know the difference between how your advisors will help you and how your strategic partner will help you.

2 When you get to where you’re going, where will you be?

If you can’t answer this question, you may need to ask yourself a different question:  Why are you in business?  I’ve said this many times, anyone can start a business, but to succeed and flourish isn’t so easy.

It is essential that you establish a vision for your business in order to create a profitable path to your vision.  Also, how far do you really want to go?  This can be defined on several levels, i.e. how big you want to get, how many employees you want to manage, do you want to be local or global, do you want to retire with this business, how long you want to work in this business, etc.   In order to execute your strategic goals and work efficiently with a strategic partner you have to have some idea of where you want to go and how far you want to take it.  

1 Focus on securing a Strategic Partner not just an advisor. 

As the business world continues to evolve and change, it’s imperative to follow a strategic path that is easily upgradeable, expandable, and flexible.  In order to have focus and achieve your ultimate vision you need a good success team.  For now, I’m focusing on your strategic partner.  This person is different than your graphic designer, your attorney, or your accountant.  Your strategic partner is not someone who just gives advice and leaves you on your way.  Your strategic partner should be someone who holds you accountable for the profitability of your business, someone who holds you accountable for the barriers you need to overcome, and someone who can guide you down a business path that allows you to continually exceed your definition of success.  Bottom line, your strategic partner should help you Execute not continue to just make plans.

If you’re currently working with a coach or a consultant and you’re not achieving the profitability goals you’re seeking, re-think the relationship and determine if you need to add Effició as your Strategic Partner!

Sherese Duncan CEO Efficio Inc

© Effició, Inc.


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