Starting and growing your business is a challenging task. As a business owner or manager you are not expected to know everything. Getting advice from professionals is an essential part of any business.

Business advisers can help you improve your business performance, solve business problems, connect you to funding and direct you to make the right choices and changes to help your business grow, succeed and achieve its goals.

What is a business adviser?

Business advisers generally specialise in specific fields and their expertise and skills are acquired through education and/or previous experience. Hiring a business adviser can provide your business with valuable information and feedback.

Types of business advisers

Business advisers can bring expertise in specific areas of your business or the industry in which you operate.

Areas where you might seek engaging a business adviser’s assistance include:

  • strategy and management
  • operations
  • finance and insurance
  • people and culture
  • marketing
  • accounting
  • legal
  • debt and bankruptcy
  • business mentoring and coaching.

Benefits of hiring a business adviser

Seeking professional assistance can have a positive impact on your business. You might get help on topics where you lack knowledge or experience, or areas of your business that require a certain set of skills that can’t be fulfilled in house.

A business adviser can:

  • help you identify and reach your business goals
  • find business efficiencies to save time and money
  • provide access to expert knowledge
  • provide an objective point of view
  • provide customised advice tailored to your business and situation
  • help you understand and navigate rules and regulations
  • negotiate contracts and other complex documents
  • minimise risk in your business.

What should you look for in a business adviser?

When looking for a business adviser, it’s important to make sure their expertise matches your needs and can provide you with tailored advice.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before hiring a business adviser:

  • Do they have credentials? Some business advisers may be providing their expertise based on years of practical experience running their own business. Others may have a degree such as an MBA, or an industry certification.
  • Does their expertise and experience relate to your needs?
  • Do they service similar clients in your industry?
  • What is their consulting record or portfolio?
  • Are the reviews from their previous clients favourable? If they don’t have testimonials published to their website, are they willing to put you in contact with previous or current clients?
  • What is the breadth of services are they offering? Do they only offer advice or do they provide hands-on follow up and guidance?
  • How do they calculate or structure their fees?

How to prepare for your first meeting with a business adviser

Coming prepared to your first meeting with a business adviser saves you time, allows you to ask the right questions, and in return receive recommendations that would benefit your business.

Here are some points to consider before preparing for your meeting:

  • What area(s) of your business do you want to focus on?
  • Do you have the relevant information and documents that the adviser might need ready (figures, organisational charts, etc.)?
  • Do you have any time constraints or deadlines?
  • Are there any updates or changes to your business you need to tell your adviser about during the consultation?

Before you engage a business adviser

While seeking professional business advice is useful, it is not always practical and cost-effective. Before engaging a business adviser ask yourself:

  • Do you have the expertise in your business to solve the problem?
  • Is external advice worth the money and time that you need to invest? In other words, does it provide a good return on investment (ROI)?

Victorian Government business advice and support programs

The following range of Victorian Government support programs might be helpful, including:

  • Business Victoria Workshops: on-demand, self-paced learning modules, live workshops and webinars and access to tailored business advisory sessions to provide you with the skills you need to run a successful business.

  • Small Business Bus: free face-to face 45-minute business coaching with a business expert.

  • Upskill My Business: free short courses and online events from the state’s top education providers and industry experts.

  • Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring: business mentoring to help your small businesses navigate the economic challenges posed by restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID‑19.

  • Business Victoria Virtual Mentor: free online business advice sessions to help you start or grow your small business.

  • Business Victoria Concierge Service: if you work for yourself, or have 1 to 2 employees and an annual turnover of less than $75,000, the Concierge Service can provide information on business services and support programs.