How to Get the Most From a Business Counselor

5 Min Read

All successful business owners have in common their ability to ask for help when needed. The good news is that the service is easily available. You can find a coach or business counselor near you in many places. Sessions are usually free, especially if you want to start a new business.

These tips that counselors and coaches want to share with you, regardless of whether you see a coach through a fee-based service or a free one.

1. You should be able to bring something rather than nothing.

That’s what I saw him as after our counseling session. After working full-time in a local municipality, he wanted to start his lawn care and landscaping company. He had already asked his supervisors whether starting a side business that he could work on weekends and evenings was okay. He was happy to be making plans for his future.

He already owned his equipment, a business license, a name, and business cards. He wanted to know how to reach local business owners. We discussed his market, his services, and how to gather information to determine prices. He also talked about how to get business inquiries.

Afterward, he felt more energized, and I felt renewed. I wondered, “Why was this session so productive? How can I get more clients like that?” Here’s the solution. He brought something. He came with experience in the field and savings to finance start-up expenses and equipment. He was compared to another client, who recently wanted to start a business to help women with childcare, housing, and life skills. I know many women who need it. You get the idea.

2. Trust your counselor.

Business counselors respect confidentiality. It’s okay for business counselors to sign confidentiality statements before they read your business plan. They can also swear they will not steal or share your business ideas. Trust me. Business counselors are familiar with various business ideas and must learn what is new. They aren’t looking for an original idea to steal, but they have chosen a career in business counseling.

3. Open and honest about financial situations.

Initially, a business counselor may not want you to openly ask, “How much do you need to start your business?” Or “How much money do you need to get a loan?” They must be able to tell you early to find the right funding sources. It’s not helpful to make vague statements like “I should be okay in getting a loan” or “I should have enough collateral for a commercial loan application.” The sooner you provide details, the better.

If you are an owner of a business and the counselor asks for financial records, don’t respond with “My accountant takes care of all that,” as this will only make it more confusing. The management of a business can be revealed through financial records. The counselor can help you with financial analysis using his expertise. By reviewing your documents, the counselor can help you save money.

Warren Williams, the head of Turning Point Business Coaching, North Carolina, says you should consider your financial situation. Good coaches will always have your best interests at heart. They truly want to make your (and your business) successful. Keep your mind open to opportunities to improve your business by becoming better.

4. Complete your assignments.

Clients are more likely to hide or play hide and seek once they receive a commission from a counselor. One example of a project is to conduct market research. Feel free to ask questions if you need clarification on what it is or how it should be done. Do not smile as if it were obvious. Remember to ignore follow-up calls or respond to emails from counselors because you still need to complete your homework. This will delay your progress toward achieving your business goals. Tell the counselor you are struggling with the assignment and need more guidance. There’s no need to be embarrassed.

5. Understanding the counselor’s role is key.

Counselors are there to listen and offer support. They will challenge you and help to see things in a new way. Maggi Braun, a long-time North Carolina business consultant, says they’ll help find solutions and not force them on you. Stay encouraged if you find the answers you are looking for.

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