Successful entrepreneurs share an ability to seek and sift through the best intelligence. “Owners should be opinion seekers, good at collecting information and then acting,” says Brett Simpson, chairman of Rogers Group Financial in Vancouver.
That’s true in operations and planning. It should also direct the way business owners deal with their professional partners account managers, financial advisors, accountants, lawyers and the like. These experts can offer timely advice and proactive guidance. Failing to tap into these resources can itself be a business risk.
An advantage of relying on outside professionals is just that they’re outside the business. “One appeal is they’re arm’s-length,” says Simpson. “You want an independent, unbiased perspective.” How should owners use their team of professionals? At a basic level, they can offer counsel regarding everything from financial instruments to estate planning, and investments to contractual agreements. There are also ways to go further.
Just as you use this network, you can access their networks. Carol-Ann Borody-Siemens, who provides group benefits and life insurance in Winnipeg under GBL Solutions, likes to deal with a team of professional generalists. As needed, she’ll also ask them for referrals when she faces more specialized matters.
“I got a fabulous legal referral from my accountant regarding a business issue. The lawyer was able to give me pertinent advice because he dealt with the issue on a daily basis,” says Borody-Siemens. “Plus, the trust relationship that was built with my accountant extended to the lawyer by virtue of the referral.”
Think too about the full range of your partners’ professional capabilities. For instance, financial advisors are looking beyond investments and insurance, and are focusing increasingly on the borrowing needs of both their personal and business clients.
Beyond using professional partners as the go-to for specific queries, see how they can offer what Simpson calls the “Google Earth view.” The more you share with them, including your strategic and business plans, the better able professionals are to connect the dots and deliver informed opinions.
With open and full information, what can these professionals see? Says Simpson, “They can point out what you may not have covered, pitfalls, synergies where you can do things more effectively, and where you risk inefficiencies and misallocation of capital.”
People tend to think how diversification reduces investment risks. But it cuts other risks too. Simpson says owners need a diversification of strategies in how they approach both their business and personal financial well-being. That’s where professional partners can be invaluable. “If they have the holistic view of a client,” says Simpson, “they can ask about all the risks so you can plan and diversify around that.”