As you know, consultants and paid business advisers can be extremely helpful to your business. They can provide valuable expertise, outside perspectives, connections, tools or a path to success which you just might not have access too. Despite all of the value they can bring to your company, the cost of hiring a consultant is often too expensive for most small businesses to bear.
Luckily there are some simpler ways to get the benefits a consultant can provide. Take a look at our suggestions below…
1. Send an email to an entrepreneur you admire.
Many entrepreneurs remember well the days they were in your shoes and needed similar advice and many of them will happily help you. Tell them about your business and ask a pointed question that you feel deserves their attention. For example: I’m having trouble getting vendors to answer my sales calls? What do you think is the best way to get their attention? You can also ask them how they handled similar situations as well. End your email by asking for a quick 15-minute phone call. Tell them how much it would mean to you and your business to receive their advice. You’ll be surprised by the response rate.
2. Use online resources such as Quora.
The advantage of using an online Q&A board is that it reaches a huge number of people, some of them very well versed in entrepreneurship. Of course this can also result in a lot of “white noise” but if you ask a pointed question you will most likely receive great answers. Once you’ve established your online reputation and credentials, you can try to solicit the helpful individuals for additional help and advice offline.
3. Create a board of advisers.
Networking is extremely important and you can take it to the next level by curating experts and trusted advisors to become stakeholders in your business. For example, If you are a food product business you will want to find people with experience in marketing, sales, and distribution to join your board. Network at events and conferences to build these contacts and develop strong relationships through frequent follow-up and information sharing. You will know when the time is right to ask them to join your board of advisors and don’t forget to reward them if they do add value to your business. Once you have built the board of advisors make sure to keep them updated about your progress. A general rule of thumb is to hold quarterly meetings to engage your advisors and so that they can help drive the direction of your business. Check out this blog for further insights on building advisory boards.
4. Use your locally-available resources!
Many cities across the country provide help and services for entrepreneurs as a way to support the local economy. Many of these services and support initiatives are offered for free! For those of you who live in New York City, the NYC Business Solutions Centers offers a set of FREE services through the NYC Department of Small Business Services. As a local entrepreneur, you will be entitled to get help and guidance on how to start a businesses, operate it, and expand it in the New York City area. Whether you need advice on financing assistance, legal advice, ways to score new business opportunities with the City, recruiting advice, or help with permits or licenses, NYC Business Solutions can work for you – for FREE.
Regardless of how you go about finding advisors, consultants and stakeholders, it’s important to start nurturing your relationships with people who can help your business grow from the very beginning. Don’t wait too long to get great business advice or get your burning questions answered. Some advice early on can save you a lot of frustration and money later on down the line. Following these few pieces of advice can keep you on the path to success!
This post was written in cooperation with the NYC Department of Small Business Service. Doing businesses New York City? For free-consultation directly with one of our account advisors—register here. We look forward to working with you!