Business Tips, On the Blog, Uncategorised

Why small businesses should invest in a board of advisors (and not in ‘hopes and dreams’).


The internet has opened the flood gates to a surge of new ‘experts’ providing quick fixes and unbelievable ‘programs’ and ‘systems’ that promise to turn your rags into riches, sometimes in just a matter of days. Those who know me have often heard me refer to these people and businesses as selling hopes and dreams.

Now, I don’t purport to know all there is about life, love, success and business or even more than a fraction of any of these things. Who knows? Some of these tools might even work…maybe. What I am confident to say is that there is no such thing as a ‘quick fix’ that equals lasting success. Though, it’s not about working hard and following the rules either.

For me, it’s about being smart, strategic and calculated in your approach to each element of your business.

The latest and greatest in money making schemes, sales and marketing tactics and cheap internet ‘experts’ can be very enticing and we’ve all considered these things or even had a taste here and there. Sometimes they are super cheap or just sound like they are relative to the potential earnings and instant results we are promised. Seems like the best investment a business owner could make…right? Right???

I once heard a saying many years ago from a colleague and it still rings true for me today…

You can get cheap and quick but it won’t be good. You can get cheap and good but it won’t be quick. You can get good and quick but it won’t be cheap.”

So, you might be in start up phase and trying to keep things lean, or maybe you’ve been operating for a while now but feel like your chasing your tail – you want to grow but you don’t have the capital to expand…but you need to expand so you can be more profitable. Argh!!! Either way, you feel overwhelmed in your business and probably also quite vulnerable.

What you need is not a quick fix or a promise of cheap, quick and AMAZING. What you need is a trusted advisor. In fact you need a whole board of trusted advisors. Professionals who have expertise, experience, relevant qualifications and, most importantly, ethical obligations to act in the best interests of their clients, you. Equally importantly, these advisors need to be the right fit for your business. That means, they understand who you are, what you are doing and why you are doing it. Plus, you need to feel comfortable talking to these advisors and to respect what they do and what they can offer to your business. If you are really lucky and find the rights ones, these advisors should take a holistic and collaborative approach to supporting you, guiding you, mentoring you.

The Board’s Constitution

So, who should be on your board? Well, it will be slightly different for each business. But to give you an idea here’s an example of a foundational board of 7 advisors that can really make a difference not only when starting out but during the course of your business.

  1. Business Coach – who can work with you on a more intimate level, help drive you to succeed, support you personally and professionally and importantly hold you accountable.
  2. Accountant – one that doesn’t just crunch numbers but provides high level strategic business advisory services. For some, a financial planner may be appropriate to start with.
  3. Lawyer – or lawyers that are suitably experienced and preferably specialise in the area of law they are advising you on.
  4. Marketing Professional – that understands and has expertise and recognised qualified in market research, strategy and implementation.
  5. Consultant/Project Manager – someone who can delve into your business and provide both practical and high level advice on the implementation of various operational procedures and systems.
  6. Web/IT Professional – who can build your online presence and provide ongoing technical expertise and support.
  7. Designer – typically with a graphic design background who gets your unique brand personality and can help you bring it to life.

If you choose your board wisely they will not be cheap and often the results will not be immediate. But what a good board will do is become the backbone of your business. They will help you to develop solid, long term strategies for your business. Then, once you have created the right strategies go knock yourself out hiring people with the tools to help you implement them. But don’t do it the other around or ‘ad hoc’ as I like to say. This is only go to cost you more in the long run, cause you more headaches and leave you scrounging for spare cash to afford the people you should have hired in the first place.

Do it right, pay for it once.

Before I sign off, I know what some of you are probably thinking – how do I find these people? Okay, here’s a few tips to help you get started:

  • Ask around – nothing beats a good referral. Find out from likeminded colleagues and friends who they use or would otherwise recommend. If you don’t know who to ask, then you need to build your network. Go to functions or spend some time away from the home office in a co-working space that resonates with you and where you can meet likeminded people, some of whom may end up on your board, others who may help you with recommendations and referrals.
  • Do a bit of research on potential advisors. Check out their website and other marketing information. Call them up and ask questions. Be very clear about who you are, what your expectations are, and then gauge their reaction. If you don’t feel comfortable with them ask yourself why. If it’s because they don’t align with your values or don’t appear to have the level of expertise you require, keep looking.
  • Once you find a good advisor who you trust, ask them for referrals. I regularly refer my clients to accountants, other lawyers with different skill sets or specialities, business coaches, consultants, marketers, graphic designers, web designers…the list goes on.

About the author

Headshot with branding (2)

Kate Hamer is the Principal Lawyer of Ethikate, a boutique Melbourne law firm specialising in brand and IP protection.

You can read her full profile here.

Brand Protection, Business Tips, Intellectual Property, On the Blog

Ethikate’s Top 10 Tips for Starting a New Business

Starting a new business is both exciting and overwhelming. We often like to race ahead and do all the fun bits and forget ignore the boring stuff.

Unfortunately the ‘boring stuff’ is the most important to get right from the start. So, to keep it light but give you some food for thought, here’s my Top 10 Tips to consider when starting up a small business.


Ethikate Business Tips

1.Do your planning, research and due diligence before you even think about starting up – start with the business model canvas.

2.Get advice on the right business structure and financial advice – to minimise tax and personal liability.

3.Develop a brand & IP protection strategy during start-up phase…and before you spend $ on your marketing and merchandise.

4.Implement your brand protection & IP strategy – you’ve worked hard to create it so make sure you protect it.

5.Make sure you own your intellectual property or have the freedom to operate – get a Brand & IP Health Check!

6.Implement policies and procedures relevant to your business – online and offline.

7.Get tailored website terms of use and upload them onto your website – don’t copy and paste from another website, it might be wrong!

8.Put in place some standard terms of supply – again, don’t copy and paste, you can’t get the law half right. Do it right, do it once.

9.Invest in the right advice – who are your board of advisors?

10.HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you a start-up or a business owner ready to get serious about your business? Professional legal advice done right is one of the best investments you can make when starting up (I know, I’m biased but I truly believe it and have seen it for myself). Then do it right, do it once with us!

Contact us today for a no obligation initial consultation or learn more by checking out our News, Tips & Blog page.