Building a support network
A successful business needs support to increase its chances of doing well. Here’s how to find experienced allies you can trust to help you guide your business to greater success.
Why are advisers important?
Making big business decisions on your own can be stressful. With the right group of advisers to call on, you can take full advantage of their objectivity and expertise when you need it most. Areas such as finance, tax laws, employing staff, and purchasing need professional advice at some point. When you’re faced with difficult decisions, seek the opinions of experts in the field.
Know when to ask for advice, and have the right advisers in place to ensure you:
- have greater success when seeking finance
- avoid pitfalls – the right advice may prevent your business from making bad decisions
- get a realistic and objective viewpoint on your business’s aspirations
- make your business attractive to investors
What should I look for?
Knowing what you’re looking for will help when you come to choose between potential advisers. Consider their:
- Specialisation – what services do they offer? Do they regularly deal with people in similar situations to you? Do they have experience of the specific areas you’re interested in?
- Customer service – will they respond when you need them, and in plain language that you’ll understand?
- Fees – what will you be charged, and when?
- Qualifications – are they in a professional association? It helps guarantee standards and gives you someone to complain to if you’re not happy.
Try the following links to get started:
- Accountants – Malaysian Institute of Accountants (http://www.mia.org.my/)
- Legal advisers – The Malaysian Bar (http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/)
- Insurance agents – The Malaysian Insurance And Takaful Brokers Association (http://www.mitba.org.my/)
- Banking – AmBank Business Banking Relationship Managers (http://ambank.com.my/eng/sbs-locator)
You might also need specialist help in fields like research and development, manufacturing processes, or design.
Networking can feel like a lot of talk with little action, but think of it as an investment in the future of your business.
Don’t be afraid to call a potential adviser for a chat or to invite them out for a coffee. These people don’t necessarily need to be professional advisors but could also be the owners of successful businesses. You’ll be surprised how much help you can get by asking.
Attend events and exhibitions
Look for relevant events and exhibitions in your area, and don’t forget your business cards.
Expand your online network
At AmBank, we can help you connect with other business owners who are willing to share their experiences. Join our LinkedIn group (/community/linkedin.html) to start building connections.
Ask your business associates to introduce you to the advisers they rate. When you meet, be clear about what you want to know. Note some questions you want answered and try to discuss them.
Advisers’ fees can vary greatly, depending on the level of advice you want or the time the adviser needs to study your business, so talk about fees as early as possible in your relationship. A professional adviser will have a clear set of fees to discuss in your first meeting.
Making full use of your support network
Make the most of your new advisers’ skills – think of your relationship as that of student and teacher. Pay close attention to everything your adviser has to say, remembering it’s up to you whether you follow their advice. And consider their input alongside other sources of information to help you progress.
Are the changes you’ve implemented having the desired effect? Schedule regular meetings so you can discuss how your business is doing and any new ideas.
Offer your help
Your adviser is an expert in their field, and so too are you – offer your advice about your own area of business. This can enhance your reputation and you may get some referral business.
Keep them informed
While regular meetings are an organised way to keep your advisers in the loop, use emails or calls too. Advisers can only work with the material they have in front of them, so keep them posted.
Like any investment you’ll want to evaluate how well your advisers’ expertise has contributed to meeting your objectives and goals. Take into account their recommendations as you progress, and whether you need to adjust your objectives to achieve your goals.