You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Top Five Business Challenges Solved by a Savvy Advisor
By Pamela Wasley, CEO, Cerius Executives
When does it really pay to have an experienced business advisor on your team? Truth is, there are very few situations in which guidance from a savvy advisor would NOT be helpful. As the business world continues to recover from global upheaval, seeking advice from someone with proven experience may be the best-kept secret to moving forward with confidence.
Whether your organization is struggling with operational bottlenecks, seeking to capitalize on a market opportunity, or simply wants to become more profitable, a wise business advisor can help you plan your strategy and think through the myriad of details. They can also bring your organization the expertise to help you avoid the risks and pitfalls of maneuvering through a pivot in business model or product lines.
Not convinced? See if you can relate to any of these organizational challenges—reported as the five most common scenarios business advisors are called in to address:
Challenge #1: Need for Scalable Growth
Profitable growth is the end goal for virtually every organization. The problem is, when the day-to-day of business leadership can be so overwhelming, it’s tough to know what you should be doing today to ready your business for a successful tomorrow.
“True scalability allows for expansion and revenue growth while minimizing increases in operational costs,” said Kristen McAlister, COO, Cerius Executives. “Even if you’re not ready to grow right now, there are things you can do to set yourself up for scalable growth and success in the future.”
If your company is already on the fast-track to growth, an experienced advisor can help you adjust your organizational structure, ramp up your key leadership, develop a roadmap and create benchmarks for success. You can lean on their background (and proven successes)—taking you through each hurdle as it comes and helping you think ahead to what will serve your business best in the future.
Their guidance can also help you make critical decisions along the way. A good example is building stronger systems and automated processes, like a solid CRM system or the right e-commerce platform. A business advisor can help you untangle the web of time-consuming details and free you to focus on the parts of your business that will drive growth and expansion.
Challenge #2: Declining Profitability
When you know your biggest problem is profitability, but you don’t know how to fix it, a business advisor can bring an unbiased viewpoint and point out potential blind spots in your personnel, operations, sales and marketing, or financial controls. From there, they can offer smart strategies to adjust price points, increase sales volume and reduce the cost of goods sold. They can even bring ideas to help you manage cash flow, raise capital, or secure new banking relationships to further amplify your efforts.
“Declining profitability is problematic because it signals a larger problem—or multiple problems—within the company,” said McAlister. “An outside perspective is often what’s needed to see the forest through the trees.”
She adds, “Whether the solution involves pricing considerations, stabilizing inventory buying, better marketing and branding, or on the cost side, negotiating more firmly with suppliers and seeking lower-cost options, an experienced business advisor can offer strong advice based on what they know works.”
Challenge #3: Strategic Planning
Every day, market conditions change, new opportunities present themselves and new competitors emerge. Strategic planning requires ongoing attention to these details, and also an investment in time.
When you take the time to define where you’re going, you can develop the right plan for the next three to five years, you’ll have better guardrails to help you stay on course, and you’ll gain the confidence to make adjustments as needed—to ultimately reach your destination.
“Advice from a proven business leader can assist with every aspect of strategic planning,” said McAlister. “They can help you formulate (or refine) your strategic vision, map out succession planning—or even focus on building business value with the intention to eventually sell.”
Challenge #4: Operational Inefficiency
A company is only as strong as its weakest operational link. Being able to identify bottlenecks, inconsistent or poorly defined processes, and an unbalanced workforce is a powerful way to prevent stagnation and empower business growth.
Many advisors have decades of experience and are highly knowledgeable on operational execution. They can look “under the hood” of your organization to identify product design issues, manufacturing jams, areas of waste, quality concerns and hindrances to running a lean operation.
“In addition to recommending temporary countermeasures to put out the fire, an experienced advisor can help you perform a systematic analysis of your production process to find the root cause of the problem,” said McAlister. “This approach enables you to evaluate automation, labor, materials, methods and the physical and human environment— ultimately helping you reach a consensus on the best solution.”
Challenge #5: Lack of Industry Expertise
If you’re in an industry that you’re not extremely familiar with, it can pay to bring in an advisor who knows the landscape, trends and competition better than you do. Their specific industry knowledge can provide essential insight as you seek to grow, gain market share, and navigate the unfamiliar terrain. Their experience can also help you create a solid sales/marketing plan, set pricing structures, and take on the right talent to succeed. Perhaps they even know a few strong candidates who are seeking a change.
The Bottom Line
For your business to thrive, it must be growing. And to handle that growth, your business needs to be many things—efficient, profitable, strategic and scalable. Yet when you’re leading a company, you don’t always know what you don’t know. Not every leader has the skills, experience or confidence to make all the right decisions—at the right time—on their own.
For all the good an advisor can bring, there really are no downsides. They help you make decisions and avoid costly missteps. They bring the insight you need, when you need it – and there’s no long-term commitment to keep your advisor around forever. You can bring in a business advisor during key seasons or transition points, then leverage your stronger and more capable internal team to execute on your strategy.
Whatever business challenges you may be facing, an experienced business advisor may prove to be one of the most valuable resources on your team—and an indispensable advocate for your success.