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4 Traits of an Excellent Business Adviser

In just about every video we look at, we talk about what it takes to be an excellent business or excellent business owner. What are the traits? What are the attributes? What are the things we need to be doing to be excellent in the businesses we are building?

In this video, our director Brendan Mills flips the perspective to talk about what he believes you should be receiving from your advisors, whether that's an accountant, a marketing expert, a sales consultant or any consultant in general.

What to Look For in a Good Business Advisor

BM - From the Expert

What are the traits a good advisor should have, and are the people around you bringing that to the table?

Before we dive in, I'm going to make two assumptions:

  • First, that the person knows what they're talking about. They are technically competent and accurate in what they do. They're not a charlatan. They are genuinely good at what they do.
  • The second part is that they're trustworthy.

Key takeaway: Before dealing with any advisor, we make the assumption – and you should get a good feel for this – that they're knowledgeable, credible and trustworthy.

Now, let's look into the details of what they're like.

4 Traits of an Excellent Business Adviser

1. They keep it simple

The first thing to know is that there's beauty in simplicity. It's my responsibility as an advisor to be across all the detail, and if I understand all the detail, I then can't help but trust that the big picture is going to be accurate. But do I want to bombard people with heaps of detail and heaps of minutiae? The reality is a good advisor will tell you, this is what this is telling me. This is what it means, and this is what you need to do. As a result of that, there's a cycle that we use within our business to make sure that we are making sense to our clients and the clients understand.

  • The first step is identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • The second part is ensuring the management team we are working with understands the strengths and the weaknesses. It's all well and good for us to say these things are there, but do they actually agree that they are there, whether that's a positive or a negative.
  • The third factor is then influencing people's behaviours to enhance strengths or mitigate weaknesses.
  • And the fourth step is what is the action plan we are going to do to achieve those objectives?

And that should work in a nice cycle where you continue that loop on an ongoing basis.

There are people we work with who want to get right into the detail when you have a meeting with them, and then there's other people who want to stay high level. There's no right or wrong way to approach it. The key part is that all the successful people we work with are details orientated, but it doesn't necessarily mean in that meeting you have to get right down into the details.

So there's not necessarily a correlation between if you ask super granular questions that you're going to be more successful than someone who's high level in their approach.

The key part as an advisor is making sure the individuals you're working with understand what you're sharing with them.

To put it bluntly, I believe people who bombard you with jargon and over information and try to almost make you feel a little bit silly are very similar to bullies. They don't really know what they're talking about and hope to overwhelm you with information to essentially make you go away or to answer your question or to in reality, hope that you give up on pressing around that question. I believe there's beauty in simplicity and taking something that's exceptionally complex and making that as simple as possible.

Key takeaway: Excellent business advisors are across the granular details, but know how to simplify complex information and communicate what’s relevant at a high level. 

2. They help you make big decisions easily and confidently

The second trait of an excellent advisor is they can make big decisions seem very clear if that is possible.

Personally, we've been lucky as a business to help many business owners make very big business decisions, and I mean big relative to the size of their business. So for some businesses that might be in the tens of thousands of dollars for other businesses that might be in the millions of dollars. But the point is we help them make those decisions. And sometimes in a very quick fashion, you might think, well, shouldn't we take our time? Shouldn't we take these things slowly?

The reality is really good decisions often leap off the page at you. Some things that might be very big in isolation as an investment can be dwarfed by the returns that they generate for you.

Good decision making should be a culmination of everything you've learned about the business to that point. So you could make a half an hour decision, but that's the result of working with somebody for six months, two years, five years, that you come to that decision.

As an advisor, you should share what your assumptions are, you should understand what's at stake, and the intensity and effort you put into that decision making shouldn't matter around what the dollar value is for that individual, whether it's $50,000 or $50 million, it's just as important to both of those businesses.

The last part around making a big decision, I think an advisor should be willing to say, what would I do if I was you? It would ideally be a hell yes, and if it's not a hell yes, you really need to ask yourself, is this worth going ahead with? Plus, what's at risk? What's at stake? If it's not a hell yes, and you're not going to lose everything, then hey, maybe it is worth that investment or worth taking a chance on that. But if it's not a hell yes, and if it goes wrong and you lose everything, you might really need to reconsider whether you go ahead with that.

So as an advisor, what would you do if you were the business owner?

3. They answer client questions directly

The third trait of an excellent business advisor is do they listen to your questions and do they answer your questions? It's so important and so obvious that your questions get answered. We said in one of the earlier traits, do they bombard you with jargon? Well, this is similar to that.

If somebody asks you what the day is, do they tell you? It's Wednesday, they tell you it's Friday, they tell you what the actual day of the week is. You should expect the same thing from your advisor.

Now, if they don't feel comfortable giving an answer around something, they should at least give you a perspective or a reference point to share. At the very least, they should say, I'll look into it. And if you don't feel like your question has been answered in an appropriate fashion from somebody you would expect an answer from, you need to question that relationship from your advisor.

4. They genuinely care about you and your business

The fourth and final trait of what I believe an excellent advisor is is they give us stuff. They really care about your business.

One thing we always tell people is the reality is it's impossible for me to care as much as you do about your business. That's your baby. That's your child that you've built from the ground up, but I promise that we'll give us stuff and we will care about your business. This is something that you have to make an assessment for yourself as to whether you feel like the advisors you work with are passionate about your business and really care about the outcome. They know that even if the world collapses, that they'll still be able to survive the next day. Will it really hurt them if the business doesn't go the way they want? And do they genuinely celebrate the success that you have as a business owner and for what you achieve with your team?

This one's quite subjective, but I think you'll have a feel around the people you work with that demonstrate those attributes versus the ones who don't.


In conclusion, these are the four traits of an excellent advisor:

  1. There's beauty in the simplicity. They take the jargon and make it as simple as possible so you understand what they're actually talking about and turn it into actionable items.
  2. They can make big decisions seem very easy, if that is possible. And if it's not possible, it might not be a path you want to go down.
  3. Do they answer your questions or do they fob them off, ignore them, or try to do workarounds to pretend that they've answered them?
  4. Do they really care about you and your business?

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