fbpx

The Unregulated Small Business Advisor – What to Expect

In twenty years as a business coach, I’ve witnessed the coaching industry evolve and blossom with new technology and a changing marketplace. The rise in digital platforms has allowed for rapid growth in business, particularly in the ecommerce space, with the internet bringing the entire world to our fingertips. It’s this growth in technology that has supported the business dreams of everyday people with the ability to scale at great pace, both locally and globally, now more achievable than ever. It’s certainly an exciting time to be part of the small business ecosystem! Every day we meet new people with great ideas, each more innovative than the next, and it undoubtedly keeps my team and I energised to help our clients succeed in any way we can.

With limitless opportunity for expansion for business owners and start ups today, there’s more people offering their services to help businesses grow to their greatest potential. In recent years, the rise of incubators and similar programs that provide mentors/advisors and coaches as part of your engagement with them can be a tremendous opportunity – when it’s well regulated. Having seen the best and the worst of these opportunities in the businesses we’ve coached, I wanted to share what’s acceptable when working with a coach, and the professional ethics that my team and I adhere to when working with small business owners and start ups.

Managing Ethical Boundaries

When you’re professionally trained as a business coach you understand the ethical requirements and potential conflicts that could arise in a coach-client relationship. It’s like any other professional relationship and as coaches we should always be conscious of the position of power we are in when giving expert advice to a client.

What I’ve seen more and more with the growth of the start up community, accelerators and incubators, is the increase of people willing to volunteer as mentors. Most Incubators have their own Code of Conduct and processes in place but the influx of these types of institutions has created some ethical issues in the business coaching and mentoring space. For our clients, I always recommend they look closely at the existing Code of Conduct and expectations for client-mentor relationships before getting too involved and certainly before you engage in any type of monetary exchange or business agreement.

In an AFR article,by Steve Baxter, he raises the issue of start up advisors taking equity in your business or fund raising and later being involved in decisions or funding rounds when this would not typically be an acceptable practice. Equally, agreeing to or asking to take equity in someone else’s business could be a red flag.

It’s worth noting that there are some Incubators who do take equity upfront as part of their model and they’re doing great work. These programs are particularly successful when the founders and investors are aligned and if your mentors are working to a framework with proven results.

Regulating an unregulated system

My ethics as a coach and the expectation I have for my team of coaches, is that they’ll never misuse their coach-client authority to profit through further business outside of coaching, or to enter into any partnerships with existing or former clients.

In my own team, I look for people with similar values to mine and I ensure we are all professionally trained in managing our position of power when dealing with clients. We monitor both the client relationships and our service delivery through regular supervised coaching appointments, one-to-one meetings, ongoing training on managing boundaries or conflicts of interest, and frequent catchups with the extended coaching and operations team to create a safe space to share our experiences with each other. We also review our company DNA on a regular basis and live by the value “What’s Best for Client”. We implement this value in all our coaching sessions first and foremost and it’s always at the front of our minds when dealing with clients. In my opinion as a coach and as a leader, it would be very rare for a client to keep the same coach forever, or for a client to engage in external business agreements with their coach who is in a position of authority with them. In my opinion this would only happen under the most extraordinary of circumstances and even then, it’s extremely unlikely.

In writing this article, my primary goal is to make people aware of the different motives someone might have when volunteering their time as a mentor. I want to stress that even in my own experience as a small business owner, I’ve recognised that not every mentor has an entirely pure agenda in mind.

What I say to my team and what I truly believe is that my role as a coach is to teach you all I know so that my role is redundant. The role of a coach, mentor or business advisor is not to make you reliant on them – their role is to lift you up, give you the tools you need to succeed and to send you off on your way to further success.

Steve Baxter (2017). In Australian Financial Review. Beware the adviser offering fundraising help to your startup.

Share the Post:

Find the Right Digital Solution for Your Business

Related Posts

Martin Rogers
Chief Executive Officer

Martin holds an extensive background and certification in Business, Marketing, and Strategy with over 20 years’ experience specialising in Strategic Thinking, Business Growth, Leadership and Team Development, across a number of industries. Martin utilises a collaborative leadership style and has a thirst for problem solving, understanding the latest trends and identifying the uniqueness that gives businesses their edge.

Mark McCrea
Chief Operations Officer

Mark McCrae stands out as a highly efficient Operations professional, known for his strategic oversight and management prowess within the corporate landscape. With years of experience under his belt, Mark has become synonymous with operational excellence, streamlining processes to enhance productivity and drive sustainable growth. Mark's forward-thinking approach and unwavering commitment to excellence have solidified his reputation as a cornerstone of operational success.

Razz Khan
Chief Marketing Officer

With over a decade of experience, Razz has a proven track record of driving growth and enhancing the digital footprint of various brands across multiple industries. His expertise spans across SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media strategies, and analytics. Razz is known for his innovative approaches to solving complex marketing challenges. Razz's passion for digital marketing, combined with his commitment to client success, makes him a valuable asset to any team looking to elevate their digital presence..

Greg Kay
Chief Commercial Officer

Greg has more than 25 years success in working with many for the development and implementation of growth strategies for businesses by building strong relationships through effective partnerships. Greg constantly strives for opportunities to have a positive influence in the personal and business lives of the people he works with.

Chris Wilborn
Contracts Manager And Advisor

Chris is a results-driven leader with a wealth of knowledge derived from his more than two decades in the NGO, corporate and government sectors. As a current business owner, from his prior work as a growth-minded CEO and a background working with disability organisations, Chris is deeply passionate about the NDIS, small business community and the central role they play in the fabric of our society.

Lindsay Munns
Executive

As a long term member of the Realise Business Board, Lindsay has temporarily stepped into this key role to facilitate the changeover of Chief Executive as part of our CEO succession strategy. Additionally he is busy leading the roll out of a major new Government contract that will take Realise Business up to the next level of its vital place in the NSW Small Business Advisory scene.

Marisa Barresi
Office / Client Coordinator
- Business Connect

Shanice Bangar
Events / Client Coordinator - Digital Solutions

Mona Bucog
Event Coordinator

Over the past 12 years, Mona has honed her skills in customer service, specializing in managing and addressing a wide range of customer needs. She’s dedicated to providing exceptional service and ensuring customer satisfaction. Her experiences have helped her develop skills that assist organizations in achieving their goals. Her ultimate aim is to help them focus on what they love, and she will take care of the rest!