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Beware the Ides of March! Loyalty and leadership

The 15th of March is the ‘Ides of March’, best known for being the date Julius Caesar was assassinated by a band of fellow senators as they feared his ambition would bring down the senate.  Many of these senators were people he trusted.

This auspicious date brings with it a strong theme of loyalty and leadership. As a budding entrepreneur it’s the perfect time to think about what these themes mean to you, especially in your business relationships.

No entrepreneur ever gets to the top alone. There is always a strong group of people around, advising and assisting them. Behind many well known and successful business leaders are trusted advisors who have been in the fold for quite some time. For example Westfield’s Frank Lowy has had David Gonski as his trusted advisor, friend and fellow director for over 25 years.

By their very nature entrepreneurs are highly creative and their main interest is in getting a business idea of the ground. As such they usually avoid being bogged down by the detail, be it marketing, legal or finance, and use their business advisors to take care of these details, ultimately helping them turn their dream into a reality.

The best advisors are those that add to and complement your own experience and skills. The biggest value in having outside advice is tapping into a level of experience that is different to your own.

The other way to ensure you are getting the best value from your advisors is to have clearly defined business goals and future direction. You need to identify the desirable experience and skills required to fulfil these goals. It’s highly likely, if you’re completely honest with yourself, there will be numerous gaps within your knowledge where you will need the advice and experience of an advisor.

For instance, you may be an entrepreneur with a promising online start up business who is technology savvy but lacks the skill to find funding or implement a strong business management structure to give your idea the foundation to grow.  Bringing in a professional advisor, like an accountant or lawyer, who has experience in managing a business, would be invaluable in the initial phases of a start up.

A few tips when looking for a business advisor:

  • Ask people within your network to recommend a potential advisor. It’s easier to find someone suitable and credible if you have recommendations from people you know and trust
  • Interview and ask for references. It’s important to meet face-to-face in order to determine if there will be a good personality fit but you also need to gauge what work they’ve done before and their track record
  • Consider their level of experience and skills and whether it complements and/or fills a gap in your own skill set
  • Communication is paramount. If you can’t communicate easily with someone, sooner or later there will be a break down and as an entrepreneur it could be disastrous for your business idea
  • The same goes for respect. You need to have a healthy respect for those you work with in order to get the best out of the relationship.

Regardless of the kind of advisor (accountant, lawyer or mentor) you bring on board, what’s going to ensure a winning formula is choosing to be involved with people who share your passion and excitement for the project. This way you know not only are they invested monetarily, they are invested emotionally and they are likely to be more dedicated in helping you and your business venture succeed.

Michael Derin

Michael Derin

Michael Derin is the founder and managing director of accountancy firm <a href="http://www.azuregroup.com.au">Azure Group</a>. Derin is passionate about helping small and medium-sized businesses reach their financial and business objectives and achieve success. He has developed sophisticated ways in which SMEs can compete effectively with larger organisations that have more resources. Each fortnight he can be seen on Sky Business News’ Trading Day program.

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