Bringing your professional resources together
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Business Owners regularly encounter complex problems in running their businesses. These modern operational challenges rarely demand a one dimensional solution. Often these challenges require the Business Owner to engage one of more members of his or her wider professional team in order to resolve the challenges. For that reason, business owners need to coordinate their professional support teams in a collaborative manner.
Generally a small business will aggregate a family of advisors, namely including:
- Compliance Accountant
- Management Book keeper
- Business Modeller
- Patent Attorney
- External Information Technology Advisor
From time to time and on various issues, the Business Owner or Senior Management will deal with one of more of these advisors. However, rarely is a discrete solution from one advisor sufficient, if not the maximum available solution. For that reason, it is increasingly relevant, if not critical, for the Business Owner to ensure the development of some synchronicity between the advisors. Don’t activate just one advisor, ensure each can contribute to the solution in a multi-disciplinary manner.
Generally each advisor works within their professional silo with little or no contact with the other collateral members of the professional team. Seldom do these respective advisors meet each other, understand how the other professionals operate or how they could contribute to or facilitate the performance of the other professionals in the complementary team.
This disconnect between team members has several sources
- Few business owners feel able to actively manage the performance of the respective members of their professional team – a problem is allocated and largely left to the project management and costing skills of the professional. Seldom is the professional asked or encouraged to cross-reference with other members of the professional team. Without being asked, most team members won’t venture outside their silo
- Each professional comes from a distinctive culture which doesn’t support lateral communication with other professionals, indeed, it may even implicitly discourage such contact. The divide between lawyers and accountants is notorious. The rise of Business Modelling / Planning has now produced a discrete profession which has not been anticipated nor welcomed by the traditional professionals
- Lack of understanding or professional “turf wars” can undermine the development of collaborative solutions.
Increasingly, no one professional can claim to be pre-imminent within the advisory group. Whilst cash and tax are unavoidable necessities, accountants increasingly need to be able to speak across the professional sectors – keeping the Business Model updated, refreshing the portfolio of Intellectual Property through registrations organised by the Patent Attorney before speaking to solicitors about finding a risk managed location within the Corporate Structure.
Generally the solution is found because one of the professional providers breaks the mould and institutes his or her own cross-disciplinary dialogue. Whilst this is a wonderful beginning, the project management of the different team members in order to develop a discrete solution remains the challenge.
Tax accountants have long recognised the interactivity between tax planning and succession strategy. Without a Business Model, the benefits of tax planning cannot be maximized. Few accountants develop succession plans which will involve either or both of specialist lawyers in either Corporate or Wills & Estates. The need for planning narrative around either start-ups or the planning of a new division within an established firm, have introduced this new professional category – Business Modelling. Europe has launched several Global solutions for Business Modelling. The best known in Australia is BusinessModelCanvas.com.
The source of a business model does not fit within traditional professional categories. The purpose of a Business Model is to identify the challenges, but not necessarily the precise answers of key operational drivers which need to be addressed by the governance professions – Legals, Tax and Patent Attorney.
The Business Model will identify the:
- Specific objectives of the trader
Capacities of the internal stakeholders to deliver those objectives
- Cash flows – anticipated revenue and support for overhead; and
- Available Intellectual Property or that which must be developed.
These questions are generally never addressed by the business owner and if they are, the answers are rarely recorded. However, once these issues are addressed in a 5-10 page Business Model, this can be the appropriate briefing document for each of the respective members of the professional team if and when problems and opportunities arise. Apart from briefing the other members of the professional team, the Business Model contributes an invaluable operational tool and a permanent repository of updated information which otherwise would not be recorded.
All modern professionals are looking to deliver a value add to their clients. Their chance of doing so will be enhanced if each professional is made aware by the Business Owner of the other members of the professional team and is encouraged to liaise with them from time to time. Modern business problems generally require a multi-disciplinary solution. A Business Owner will benefit by developing a collaborative culture amongst his or her professional team.