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A GUIDE TO CHOOSING YOUR ADVISORS

Small businesses usually don’t have the necessary capital to hire full-
time experts to work within their organizations. In the beginning, you
will probably not have all the necessary expertise either. Therefore,
you may need to hire external professional services, such as market-
ing and management consultants, accountants, attorneys, engineers,
graphic designers, technical consultants and others.

Some advisors, especially accountants sors carefully. You should choose your • When will they be available to do
and attorneys, are widely used by business- legal, accounting or other business advi- your work?
es of all sizes because of licensing and sors with great care, including checking for
legal requirements. No business can func- adequate credentials and references. Verify Your Potential Advisors’
tion without maintaining financial records, Engineers, technical specialists and man- Credentials
agement consultants, as well as anyone Conduct personal interviews. Make
else who provides specific specialized your decision based on the following:
advice, should be carefully screened as • Are they knowledgeable about
well. The expertise that advisors bring to your needs?
you should be verified also. If you decide • Do they have the necessary and profes-
you need an advisor, the following is a sional credentials?
guide for selecting an advisor and to using • Can they provide references?
his/her services. • Have they demonstrated an ability to
work within an organization without
Define What Type/Kind Of Advice You interrupting ongoing business or alienat-
Think You Need ing employees?
Advice may include general (legal,
accounting, etc.) or specific (sales contract,
audit, marketing analysis, technical consul- SCORE HOLDS MONTHLY
tation, etc.) By writing out your thoughts, BUSINESS WORKSHOPS
you will be able to shorten your search time
ACROSS COLORADO.
and reduce your costs.
CALL (303) 844-3985 FOR
A SCHEDULE OF CLASSES.
List Potential Advisors
• Ask business associates and friends
• Ask your industry association or chamber
of commerce • What rapport and trust have you devel-
• Ask your current advisors (lawyer, oped with the potential advisor during
accountant, banker, etc.) about other your interviews, phone conversations and
advisors reference verifications?
• Ask professional associations (CPA
Society, Bar Association, etc.) Potential Advisors Should Submit A
Written Proposal Which Outlines
filing required reports, paying income and Screen Your List To Determine • The objective and scope of the assign-
other taxes, or having complete financial • If they have expertise with similar busi- ment
records for use in dealing with banks, sup- nesses • The nature and form of the final report as
pliers, investors, etc. who need to know the • How long they have been in their busi- well as an outline for completing the proj-
financial position of your business. You may ness? ect, including progress reports
also need legal advice concerning the legal • What professional certification they have • A synopsis of what the advisor will do,
structure of your business, contractual achieved? what you and your business will do and
arrangements with suppliers and distribu- • What references they can provide? provide, what work will be completed
tors, leases, litigation protection, etc. • What fees do they charge and how are jointly
While the services of attorneys and they determined? • The anticipated cost of the project (fees
accountants may seem obvious, it does not • How much time will they need to handle and expenses), and the terms of payment
diminish the need to select individual advi- your project? • The conditions under which you and/or

52 • The Colorado Business Resource Guide


A GUIDE TO CHOOSING YOUR ADVISORS

ALL ADVISORS SHOULD BE Cooperate With Your Advisor on a short-term project such as a lease or
CHOSEN WITH GREAT CARE, As Work Proceeds purchase contract. However, all advisory
INCLUDING ADEQUATE CRE- • Inform your regular staff about details of work can be and should be evaluated over
DENTIAL AND REFERENCE the project in order to reduce anxieties time. Some projects may initially appear
CHECKING. LIST OF and to ensure cooperation successful but fail in the long run. If you
COMMON ADVISORS: • Be available to review progress, answer would choose to hire an advisor a second
Accountant questions, clarify information and assist time you have had a successful experience.
Attorney with roadblocks as the project progresses If you would not re-hire the advisor, evalu-
Banker • Don’t try to short-circuit the work or ate the situation to determine what went
Insurance Agent change the agreed-upon work schedule. wrong and try to prevent the situation in
Graphics/Publishing However, do insist upon timely comple- the future.
Marketing and tion of the project Choosing and using professional
Management Consultants advisors is critical to businesses of all
Review The Finished Project types and sizes. A good working relation-
Ask yourself if you got what you want- ship with your advisor(s) can help deter-
the advisor may cancel your agreement, ed and requested. mine the long-term chances of reaching
including any liabilities or restrictions your business goals. Experienced busi-
incurred by each party Would You Hire This Advisor Again? ness advisors can assist you with con-
Obviously some types of advisory work tacts at banks and other financial institu-
Review The Proposal can be evaluated more easily and readily tions. An effective ongoing working rela-
With the advisor, review and resolve any than others. An accountant dealing with tionship with your advisors can give you,
outstanding questions or ambiguities before financial statements and audits or other the entrepreneur, a wealth of knowledge,
agreeing to proceed or sign any contract. detailed work may require a longer period experience, insight and contacts that can
of time to evaluate than someone working greatly enhance your success.

www.sba.gov • Colorado SBA (303) 844-2607 • www.coloradoSBDC.org • 53

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