What is a Small Business Advisor?

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Small business advisors are professional consultants and organizational liaisons who coach and consultant with their clients to improve business results, monitor performance and reduce risks. They may be independent entrepreneurs, or they may work for organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce or the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). Either way, small business and management consultants will perform the following duties, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Coaching and Consulting Duties

Small business advisors build rapport with clients to maximize trust and compliance with recommendations. They must cultivate an atmosphere that is open the acceptance of business advice. They investigate, diagnose and research business problems and opportunities. Their goal is to identify solutions that will improve results and educate clients. They coach clients on matters of vision, leadership, motivation, accountability, action planning, idea generation and time management. They provide technical consulting regarding industry best practices related to specific fields, such as marketing, accounting, human resources and business management. They assist with the implementation of technical advice when urgently necessary. They provide recommendations based on the limitations of client’s staff, budget, training and resources. They usually summarize their findings through official reports that are shared in client meetings.

Relationship Management Duties

Small business advisors usually monitor financial, operational and employee performance through reviewing reports, interviewing individuals and meeting with management. For example, they may receive regular financial statements, be asked to attend sales meetings or analyze employee performance reports. They may even talk directly with clients or customers to better understand business conditions, customer service problems and competitor intelligence. Those who coach business leaders about finance may train personnel how to properly create internal documentation, monitor multiple payments and quickly generate consensus approval for critical invoices with deadlines. Those who train business leaders about asset management will train personnel how to oversee the timely payment of fees, loans and bills. They may also assist with the collection of delinquent accounts or provide early intervention advice regarding client payment issues and chronic account problems.

Required Competencies

Small business advisors will need at least five or more years of small business ownership or management experience. They need extensive knowledge of supervisory processes, administrative procedures, bookkeeping reporting, marketing approaches and human resources guidelines. They need to have the ability to effectively apply their business experience to a wide variety of situations and industries. They need to have the ability to quickly and accurately identify problems, troubleshoot root causes and devise sensible strategies to improve operations. Small business advisors need interpersonal and communication skills for building effective rapport with a wide variety of personalities and individuals from different cultural and educational backgrounds. Having superior time management skills will help them schedule and efficiently coordinate meetings, deadlines and assignments. They need to be discrete in handling confidential client information, maintain a high sense of urgency and project a professional image that inspires trust and confidence.

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Small business advisor come from a variety of educational backgrounds, but a general degree in business, management or leadership is recommended. A Bachelor of Science in business degree will provide participants with the knowledge needed to handle operational issues, resolve conflicts and keep people motivated in difficult situations. This degree will help students understand about risk management, budget controls, organizational communication and resource coordination. Taking a class in project management will help graduates understand about scopes, schedules status reporting and quantitative and qualitative metrics.

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