Back in the days when I used to do seminars around the country, the #1 question that I heard was, “How do I find a good advisor?” And, on the surface of it, that seems like an easy question to answer. You might already be looking through your cell phone list to give me the name of someone you really like to work with. But, like many things, it’s not quite that simple to get the best answer for you. If you’ve been asking this same question, then you’ll want to read the rest of this blog post today.
First, consider, what expertise are you looking for? Do you need someone for help with accounting, tax, legal (and what particular speciality) or something else? One of the biggest challenges for new business owners and investors is identifying exactly WHO they should talk to. A good advisor will tell you when something is not their speciality and often have a referral. A scary advisor is one who wants to advise you on everything, whether they really know what they are talking about or not.
Sometimes you don’t want an advisor as much as you want a mentor. To be honest, I’ve heard that term so much (“mentor”) that I cringe when I hear it now. I’ve tried to mentor a couple of people in the past, or at least mentor them as I would think it means. There are people who will charge you thousands of dollars to mentor you and they are generally the most straight up and honest in this whole process. “Pay me XX and I will teach you YY.”
Some people don’t, or can’t, pay the money and so try to work out other deals. In my case, I have hired two different people, paid them a wage (albeit low) with the understanding that I would teach them how I do business. The problem, in both cases, is what that meant to them was that they would be able to ask me any question they had, whenever they wanted, and never actually have to do work. That didn’t work out so well.
If you want to learn how to have a small business or take your idea and raise money to go big with it, you’re after some very valuable information. There has to be exchange. If someone today asks me to mentor them, the answer is always “no.” Probably not fair, because I’m sure that there are honest people who understand the give and take of getting something, but my experience has not been great.
When I was back working on the “Choose to Be Rich” project with the Rich Dad team, we brainstormed with the Time Warner people about this issue. I brought up this point and an employee from corporate America chimed in with, “Fine, they have to do some work if you’re paying a salary, but it has to be high level work.” and with a laugh, “After all, they aren’t going to waste their time making coffee.” Huh? I said to myself. Why not? If you got to sit in on a meeting that could change the way you look at business or gave you access to huge investment funds, would you make a pot of coffee to sit there?
Still others don’t need an advisor as much as they need a mastermind group. They need help expanding their ideas, getting new references, making new contacts and thinking outside of their own box. An advisor can help, but an Advisor Mastermind group can be the best possible answer.