Exit Planning Proclamation #1 – We Will Be Advisors First, Experts Later

Most of us have had teachers, coaches, or mentors who had a phenomenal impact on our lives. Think about them. What did they have in common? Was your English teacher a Booker Prize winner? Did your tennis coach win Grand Slam titles? Probably not.

More likely, they impacted our lives because they exercised 100 percent focus on doing what they know best. They connected with us and helped us develop and grow. They sought, first and foremost, to understand us and to bring out the best in us. Their knowledge or skills were tools they used to help us learn something new.

The same applies to advisory services, too. We conducted survey research asking business owners to suggest what they want and expect from their advisors. The findings were eye-opening. Most business owners want their advisors to understand their business and empathize with their problems. They want the advisors to be present in their specific situation in real time, not just check in when it’s convenient for them.

So, how do expert advisors actually behave? Our survey results revealed a huge gap between expectations and reality. Most expert advisors behave like surgeons rather than coaches. They focus narrowly on the problem at hand rather than adopt a holistic approach to the business.

Business owners expect their value advisors to keep them focused on their goals. They not only want advisors to help them identify the levers they need to pull to achieve those goals, but also to guide them on that journey. In short, clients want advisors to act as coaches, teachers, or mentors.

A value creation advisor’s work makes a world of difference to their client’s future. The quality of the advice we give impacts everything from the direction, path, and ultimate goal of the business owner. To effectively help our clients as coaches, we need to:

  • Be excellent communicators and make our clients feel comfortable sharing personal information. This requires a show of empathy, or even sympathy, as the situation demands.
  • Be good listeners to better understand our clients’ situations. Pick up what is not said and tailor our methods to best serve each individual client.
  • Collaborate with a team of experts for the client. We need to be flexible as team members, coordinate well, and understand other team members’ perspectives and roles to meet the collective objective of meeting the client’s goals.
  • Be adaptable and adjust our plans based on market trends, industry trends, changing company dynamics, and client requirements.
  • Respect our clients, regardless of their financial position, their asset value, or even a decision to exit at a much later stage. We need to develop a good relationship, grow it, and deepen it with good service over years.
  • Be transparent and honest as their trusted advisor by building our practice on integrity.
  • Stay in touch and remain accessible to the client in good and bad, while promptly responding to their calls and emails.
  • Educate the client and clarify what they must know and how it impacts their future goals.

Download the Exit Planning 2.0 Manifesto

Value Scout is built on the recognition 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 achieve that mission we have to hold ourselves accountable to a high standard; a set of indelible beliefs that guide our work and everything we do. We call them the 8 Proclamations of the Value Advisor.

To read all eight download the Exit Planning 2.0 Manifesto.

Author Summary

Dan Doran

Dan Doran

Is the Founder of Value Scout, Quantive and the 2019 Exit Planner of the Year. He is a recognized expert and speaks frequently about M&A, valuations, and developing more deliberate value creation strategies.
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