Nine things entrepreneurs look for when choosing professionals

Contributors to this article (pictured above, clockwise from top left):
Nicko Willamson, founder, Climatecars
Jenny Campbell, owner, Your Cash
Adrian Tripp, founder, Tracc Films
Emma Sinclair, founder, Target Parking
John Davy, former owner, Jongleurs

Edited by Maxop

Successful entrepreneurs are most likely to award work to professional service providers who show a clear passion for their business and specific insights on how to grow it. This was the key finding of a Maxop Insights Session held at London’s Soho Hotel, where five successful serial entrepreneurs from the FE BE network (listed above) shared key advice.

Impassioned persistence and a get-up-and-go spirit are likely to be valued more highly by fast-growing entrepreneurial clients than technical ability, because entrepreneurs have had to display those characteristics themselves to succeed.

However, passion and persistence alone will not win the day. They must be backed up by a forensic understanding of a potential client’s business, plus highly specific insights on how you can help them achieve their goals.

Here are the nine key pieces of advice from the five entrepreneurs…

1) Do your homework
You need to fully understand everything about your potential client’s business. There must be substance behind your passion and persistence.

2) Form insights
How are you going to differentiate yourself? Anyone can do the numbers. You need to give an opinion.

3) Be persistent
Hussle. Get the meeting. Persistent targeting is important. Entrepreneurs have built their businesses using persistence and admire it.

4) Be passionate
“I need to look someone in the eyes and see that they are passionate about helping my business,” was how one entrepreneur put it.

5) Invest your time
Invest time in building a new relationship. Even if it costs money at the beginning. You only need one to be the next billion dollar business.

6) Avoid surprises
Entrepreneurs think fees can easily get out of control. Be transparent. Eliminate surprises. Be careful about over-runs and unexpected fees.

7) Don’t undercharge
Entrepreneurs don’t want or expect low fees when they’re paying for an advisor’s expertise. They’ll pay more for first-rate insight.

8) Exploit business chemistry
Match your people to your target client. Have a depth of personalities in your market- facing team so you can get the match right.

9) Avoid saying “partner-led service”
It’s a myth that offering a partner-led service is a differentiator. If anything it suggests your service will cost more and it’s unimportant to entrepreneurs, who are dismissive of the term.


Entrepreneurs v professionals

Maxop asked the five entrepreneurs to rank six key service provider attributes in order of importance. We then asked the providers to rank the same attributes…

1. Trust
2. Personal relationship
3. Commercial insight
4. Sector expertise
5. Price
6. Partner-led service

1. Commercial insight
2. Sector expertise
3. Personal relationship
4. Trust
5. Price
6. Partner-led service


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