Recently, I have been confronted with situations where I have to provide my clients with news they prefer not to hear. Whether it be that a decision they have made in the past has come back to bite them or if the direction they thought their case was going has turned out not to come to fruition, it is always difficult as an attorney to give a client bad news. While some of these clients have listened to what I have had to say, understood their situation, and considered the different options on how to proceed, others have reacted and taken out their frustration at me. Once the dust settled, we were able to rationally discuss the next best step in their situation.
This leads me to wonder how to hire the best advisor for your business. An attorney I know once told a client during an initial consultation, “Hiring an attorney, like any advisor for your company, is a leap of faith.” He was correct. No matter how many diplomas the advisor has on his wall or how many awards he/she has won, hiring someone to protect your best interests, whether it be writing a contract, representing you in court, maintaining your finances, or helping you plan for your future, is definitely a judgment call and one that, despite best efforts, can sometimes backfire.
The question then becomes: “How can I be sure?” The answer is multifaceted and never easy, but below are a few suggestions to help make the process a more successful one.
The first step is to ask for referrals from friends and/or other trusted business owners. Find out who they use for their services and why they continue to use their advisor. Find out who they don’t use and why not. Really listen to what they have to say. These friends and colleagues will be the best primary resources for starting and eventually narrowing your search.
When you meet with the advisor, use your best judgment. Whether you have been in business for 30 years or 30 days, you have a sense of what feels like a good fit and what doesn’t. It is imperative that you feel comfortable to call this advisor in order to ask the largest or even the smallest question. A level of ease will allow you do to just that, making your life easier as your business continues to grow and change.
Lastly, it is important to make sure that you are not hiring a “yes man.” Your company is important to you and while you need to make shrewd business decisions, your advisors need to do the same for your business. While in the short term it feels good to hear that everything is operating smoothly, a company that surrounds itself with “yes men” will not be a company much longer. Sometimes the best advice is the hardest advice to hear but that is the role an advisor should play for a company. It is his/her job to make sure his client is in business tomorrow, the next day, and far into the future.
As a side note, one thing I did not mention is the cost of the advisor. While cost is an important reality for any business, it is important to not sell your company short because you do not want to pay too much or overlook a recommendation because you believe the advisor charges too little. By using your network for recommendations and using your common sense, you will be able to find a capable advisor that fits your company’s needs, helping you reach your long term goals.
If you would like to discuss any legal issues regarding your Montgomery County, Delaware County or Philadelphia County business, please contact Sallen Law, LLC.