In every stage of small business, whether you are an emerging or an established business owner, it is important to have trusted relationships with professionals who know you and can support and direct your business growth and long-term sustainability.
Why get professional support?
As a small business owner, you will hire outside experts for many reasons — for technology support, social media development, financial planning, bookkeeping, legal issues, personnel reviews, or to improve your business management. You may also benefit from contracting with a business advisor who can be an expert sounding board on business decision-making, holding you accountable and helping you to meet your goals.
What to consider first
First, you need to be clear about why you want help and what you want from any professional. What is your challenge or opportunity?
Next, identify the qualities that would make a professional a good match for you and your business. You want to find someone who:
- Has skills and experience that exceed your needs
- Is ethical, transparent and trustworthy
- Has an approach that fits with your style
- Is available when you need them
How to find “the right one”
It can be hard to know if someone will be a good match just from looking at a website. We recommend asking for referrals from people you know and trust, and who are also in small business. After getting referrals, though, you must still do your own due diligence! You are not just hiring someone for an hour of their time (even if for now that is all you need). You want to find someone who can be a great support person for your business for months and years to come.
Whether you find a professional from a Google search or a trusted colleague, you need to do your homework. When interviewing potential people to work with, it is important to:
- Honestly represent who you are and what you are looking for
- Ask lots of questions to verify this person has the expertise you need
- Read their testimonials and/or reviews
- Understand the terms of the relationship and any contract, including fees.
- Pay careful attention to the questions he/she asks you. (They should be assessing if you are the right fit for them, too!)
(Once you are working with someone, be sure to continue to re-assess your needs and the professional relationship so that you get the outcomes desired as your business grows and your needs change.)
Finalizing the match
Take your time to make a good decision. You need to feel confident that this professional understands you and your needs, will be available when you need them, and will help you implement effective solutions. This person will be an essential business asset – giving you advice that you can use, and helping you to develop systems for your business. With the right support, you will be able to focus your energy on your clients, customers, employees and business goals… and see long-term positive results for your business!