Typically, when people think of business advisors, they think of the professions, and have an image of formal business advice, explains business expert Carl Reader. The most valuable advice, however, is that from someone who has been there and done it themselves, as they can tell you their own story and what they would do differently. Perhaps most importantly, the advice that they will give you is often sincere and reflects the emotions behind various business issues, not just the logic.

Even today, I still have a strong “advisory board”. This sounds much more impressive than it actually is, as in reality it is a group of friends in business who bounce ideas off of each other, and we always know that we can pick each others’ brains.

Typically, the kind of expertise that you may need in a team, both in start-up stage and as you grow, would be as follows:

  • Creator – this is someone who can look at the big picture, carve out a vision for the future, and be decisive about issues rather than get bogged down by details (ideally, this would be the entrepreneur).
  • Culture – this person would help you set a firm culture within the organisation, and can also help you understand how to manage change as it inevitably arises during the growth of your business. They also are likely to understand the psychology behind the choices that employees, customers and suppliers make.
  • Marketing– this person would be able to help you understand how to profile your target market, how best to reach them, and how to get the most out of your marketing spend. They will also encourage you to think about creative ways of marketing your business.
  • Process – this person would help you critically appraise your business processes, identifying weaknesses and ensuring that there are clear lines of responsibility.
  • Finance – this person would point you in the right direction should you need to raise funding, and also will be able to help you weigh up potential opportunities.
  • Technology– this advisor would help you stay abreast of technological changes and can guide you with any issues that arise from your current operations.
These individuals can either be paid staff members, friends, or outsourced advisors. It might be that your own experiences allow you to fulfil one or more of these roles in your business as well.

The above includes some extracts from The Startup Coach: Teach Yourself, published by Hodder. You can follow Carl on Twitter and like on Facebook.