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Small Biz: Know Whom to Trust to Help You

by Tony Robinson OBE | shared from SME-Blog

Who can you trust to help you to survive and thrive?

There is a better way of getting help than from Government and Big Company funded start up and micro business support programmes. That’s not to say we don’t want their help and a lot of these free offers of help are good and needed.

Many of my friends and colleagues that are excellent micro business advisers and mentors give their time free to help on many of these programmes. However, whether you get one of these excellent advisers and mentors is a lottery.

Not all help is good for you and your business.

It shouldn’t be pot luck as to whether you get good help or not. In fact some of the help on offer, sadly, should carry a health and wealth warning.

UK examples of stuff that may be ‘Hot or Not’

For example, in the UK we’ve got a plethora of government backed initiatives, often with Big Company offers, designed to help start-ups and small businesses, such as ‘There’s a Business in You’; ‘Start Up Britain’; ‘LEPs’; ‘College start up courses ’; ‘Business Link’; ‘Mentorsme’ and ‘Self-employment programmes through A4e and other major welfare to work providers’.

On top of this there are lots of awards and business pitch competitions sponsored by Big Companies where the winner will get money plus help from a corporate executive or TV celebrity entrepreneur as part of the ‘prize’.

Beware The Know It All Executive

For 26 years now, along with hundreds of other business owners, I’ve warned against the many advisers that think because they’ve been in a senior management job and had some training in coaching, advising, consulting or mentoring that they possess the know how to support start-ups and micro-business owners.

Starting and running your own micro enterprise is not, primarily, about formal research, planning, loans and management skills. Indeed, most corporate managers are lost without a formal business plan, a budget with money to spend already there and some staff.

Worse still, many of the people that design the start-up or micro business owner support programme or competition, that these corporate executives will act as advisers or mentors for, have no experience of starting or running their own micro enterprise.

Blind Alleys

It is the blind leading the blind as no-one knows, including the prospective or existing micro business owner, whether it is useful or dangerous help being offered. Even the big company product and service discounts that are part of the support or prize package may be stuff that you don’t need and may be very unhelpful to getting on with the business of winning and keeping customers.

As Lord Alan Sugar says ‘The last thing you want is government interfering in business because they don’t know what they’re doing. What you want is for them to create a level playing field’

The Better Way

So, recognising that many start-ups may not be able to pay for micro business owner friendly, professional advice what is my better way.

Only allow yourself to be advised, coached, trained or mentored by someone that other micro business owners can vouch for.

Always ask the adviser or mentor at the very first meeting what experience they have of starting and running a micro business (0-9 employees) and if you’re not convinced ask for someone else to help you that other micro business owners can also vouch for.

The Rocking Better Way

As you may know, I’m a co-founder of what will be the biggest self-help community of micro business owners in the world – the Enterprise Rockers.

We help each other to, as Lord Sugar recommends Government should do, level the playing field. No obstacles to our opportunity to succeed. We also trade with each other and help each identify what does help us and what doesn’t.

If you’ve started and registered your business -join our movement and ask other micro business owners what and who is best to help you to survive and thrive. You’ll find that the best helpers are Enterprise Rockers too.

In addition and coming soon , if you can afford to pay for professional advice, the Enterprise Rockers are creating a directory of micro business friendly, proven, practical, professionals. They’ve all started and run their own micro businesses. Our directory will be called SpeedBizSolutions and it takes the risk out of those times you’re looking for an independent professional to help you and your business.

There’ll be free help too if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. See you in the Rockers!


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