How can a start-up business assess the advice it is given?

An intending start-up business needs advice that is good quality, good value for money and, crucially, impartial.

Getting good quality advice that is value for money is the challenge for every entrepreneur and start-up on a budget.

Whereas the large corporate looking for advice can afford expensive lawyers and advisers, this is rarely the case for a start-up, which has to be more careful about where it spends its money.

It is important to identify those areas for which it is important to pay as opposed to those where it is less so.

Typically the areas where advice is needed include fundraising, investor and shareholder agreements, terms of trading with clients and suppliers, employment, finance and accounts, business planning and development, production, systems, sales and website. Wow, it is a lot and as a business rescue specialist, it is easy to see which areas were neglected when a business gets into financial difficulties.

One way of prioritising what is worth paying for and is good value is to do a lot of research and exercise a degree of judgement. Most lawyers and advisers will provide a level of free advice so take advantage of it. In addition other business owners are normally happy to share the benefit of their experience, but beware that they may only know the way they dealt with a problem and may not be able to advise on alternatives, hence the need to do lots of research.

A good tip for assessing advice you are given is whether an adviser is outlining a range of possible alternatives as options and helping you work through the assessment process to consider the pros and cons of each option.

Steer clear of those who simply tell you what to do as you don’t know if they only know one way, or they have an agenda for recommending their way.

Furthermore you won’t learn from such advisers as it is the assessment and exercising of judgement about alternatives that helps you learn how to manage advisers and often reject advice.

Only when you have spoken to a number of lawyers and advisers will you be able to tell who is trying to sell you a product and who is giving genuine advice.

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