Chris Shrubb, senior partner at Hamlyns LLP, chartered accountants and business advisers, says entrepreneurial professional advisers do exist. They are a rare breed but they are out there, so choose wisely
It seems everybody fancies themselves as a bit of an entrepreneur these days. Take the TV show, the Apprentice. Over 50% of the contestants describe themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’ and judging by the calibre of most of them it is a much exaggerated noun.
An entrepreneur is a person who attempts to profit by risk and initiative. Successful entrepreneurs are in fact in the minority. There are serial entrepreneurs who continuously come up with new business ventures. They are more likely to take risks and recover from business failures. Their prime motivation is to make the business profitable in order to sell it. In many instances they have a clear exit strategy on launch.
Successful entrepreneurs are commercially aware, controlling, determined, demanding and innovative.
But contrary to popular belief, while they may appear headstrong, the successful ones actually listen to and act on the professional advice they are given. Entrepreneurs often have a ‘can do’ approach and sometimes their professional advisers must tell them what they don’t necessarily want to hear. Strong- minded clients need like-minded advisers, not yes men. This may sometimes lead to conflict but mutual respect soon prevails.
This respect is gained by the entrepreneur choosing advisers who are not only professionally competent but also businessmen themselves and share your passion for your business and understand your aspirations and concerns. Above all, they should think like you.
Successful people mix with like-minded individuals and your advisers would have, over the years, built up a network of trusted professionals. Tap into this network because success breeds success.
Always ensure your affairs are managed by a single partner within the practice who has a total understanding of not only your business but also your personal affairs. They are inextricably linked.
And don’t fall into the trap of paying a monthly retainer simply for partner access. As a valued client such access should never be viewed as a privilege or an expensive add-on.
Contrary to the popular adage, size doesn’t matter. A bigger firm doesn’t equate to a greater level of expertise but it often means the practice is structured in a more corporate or institutionalised manner which may not suit the entrepreneur.
Finally, one thing that has always puzzled me with some professions is their desire to charge you every time you phone them. I can think of no other business that actively discourages its customers from making contact with them in this way. I want my clients to phone me. I want to know what’s going on in their lives. Otherwise how can they be properly advised?
In summary, choose an adviser that focuses on you, not your sector, not your location, but you and your entrepreneurial zeal in business.