Starting your own business involves many decisions, which often seem overwhelming. It has been shown that there is a strong correlation between using outside professionals and business success.

In today’s business world, where many new businesses fail within the first five years, it only makes sense to increase your chances for success by seeking the broad experience and expertise that professional resources and advisors can provide.

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Outside advisors can assist you in making decisions based on facts, not wishful thinking. They can also provide a reality check and give you insight in starting and guiding your business.

There are two important categories of advisors: informal and professional.

Informal advisors

Informal advisors include:

• Other business owners

• Friends and family

• Members of other entrepreneurial groups or projects

• Members of your board of directors

Professional advisors

Professional advisors include:

• Lawyers

• Accountants

• Bankers

• Insurance agents

• Marketing professionals

• Consultants

• Small business assistance providers

Most professional advisors will expect to be compensated for their assistance while informal advisors typically only need to be asked to help. When selecting a professional advisor, look for a skilled advisor who meets your needs.

Attributes you should look for include:

• Strong professional skills and knowledge

• Integrity

• Small business orientation

• Engaging and creative

• Positive attitude

• Willing to listen

• Team member and advisor

Selecting the right professional advisor will not only provide advice and consistency to help your business succeed, but he/she can also be instrumental in identifying other professional team members.

To go about finding the right professional advisor, you should:

• Ask small business assistance providers

• Ask other business owners

• Call the professional and schedule an appointment. Interview them as you would an employee. Be sure to request references.

• Look for a comfort level and confidence; confidence in their integrity, discretion, and concern for your business.

If you already have a good relationship with a banker or other professional, he/she is a good source of referral.