Often, trusted advisors offer clients advice without really understanding how their clients make money or what motivates their business decisions. While it’s understandable why it happens, we have to strive for more.
Tax consultants routinely offer advice on the tax implications of the client’s profits, but do they understand what it took to generate that profit in the first place? Lawyers consult on the legal risks associated with a client’s business decisions, but do they understand the reward the client wants to get from the investment?
But our research, and our own experience, tell us that our clients want more. They want us to understand their business and their situation such that the advice we give isn’t just about reducing tax today or mitigating risk tomorrow. Still, about enabling them on the path, they seek for their business and their life.
If we’re going to help clients realize the value from their business that their life requires, then we have to embed ourselves into the worlds in which they live. It’s not good enough to state we’ve worked with ten companies like theirs and throw some case studies at them. We have to seek to truly understand their unique business, their unique situation, and what it is they’re seeking to accomplish.
Regardless of what discipline you bring to the table as a value creation advisor, you should strive to be able to answer these questions as it relates to your clients’ businesses:
- How does the company acquire customers and generate profit?
- What are the risks and rewards associated with the client’s big decisions?
- Who are the competitors?
- Which are the potential markets for their goods and services? Who are their customers?
- What is the strategic plan?
- What are our client’s ambitions for the future?
- What are the threats to the business that could undermine everything?
If we cannot answer those questions, we must invest more time getting to know our clients better to understand their business model and how it works. We commit ourselves to a deeper level of understanding because that’s what we must do so they can exit on their terms.
Knowledge builds trust
Deep, meaningful research into the client’s business is essential to the client and the valued advisor, as that knowledge forms the foundation for being considered a trusted and valuable adviser. By focusing our efforts on knowing the client’s needs, we learn what matters personally and professionally. The best way to learn about a client’s business is to talk to them, ask good questions, and listen to their answers.
Download the Exit Planning 2.0 Manifesto
Value Scout is built on recognizing that we, as value creation advisors and exit planners, have a unique and rare opportunity to help our clients achieve something they’ve only dreamed about – a successful transition on their terms. To accomplish that mission, we have to hold ourselves accountable to a high standard, a set of memorable beliefs that guide our work and everything we do. We call them the 8 Proclamations of the Value Advisor.