Millions of small business owners have used LivePlan products to start their businesses. Every week, we hear stories from small business owners thanking us for helping them develop a business plan and secure funding.
We hear from them about their successes—but also about their struggles. Some are high-growth startups, and some are “traditional” small businesses, the lifetime dreams of entrepreneurs with skill and passion. Some have even used LivePlan to test a business concept, and realize it’s either not viable, or they aren’t ready and need to do more planning.
We are glad to hear about all these experiences because they save the millions of entrepreneurs in our ecosystem time and energy, teach them about best practices in developing business plans, and get them on the path to success.
Growth plus inexperience leads to advisory need
Many successful small business owners eventually grow to a point where they need more financial expertise to help guide their company. Some have specific business growth needs, like help with marketing or technology systems, but most small businesses owners eventually need help with strategic planning and financial forecasting, because these are fundamental to the continued growth of any successful business.
The more a business owner can plan out (or forecast) their sales, expenses, and cash, the smarter they can be about the decisions they make to support their growth.
When is the right time to hire a new employee, purchase capital equipment, expand into a new location, or offer a new product? All these are decisions that can and should be planned—or more specifically, forecasted.
In addition to being fundamental and necessary, small business owners want to make smart decisions about spending and growth. They are motivated! They tell us that their business is their dream—their livelihood—and they want to nurture it properly. But, they don’t always have the expertise to do so on their own.
Services businesses want from Expert Advisors
We often survey small business owners in our ecosystem, to be sure we are always in touch with the problems they are trying to solve.
When considering making the leap to hiring expert help, we wanted to know how LivePlan small business owners would rank strategic planning and performance review, compared to more traditional advising services like cash flow planning and business plan writing. While they clearly want help in the entire range of services, we were pleased to see that they rank strategic planning and business performance review as the most desired service.
These are small business owners that started with LivePlan to write a business plan, but now they want more. This is where LivePlan Expert Advisors come in!
Who are LivePlan Expert Advisors?
Expert Advisors are accounting professionals and small business advisors who have been specially trained to use LivePlan as their platform for small business advisory services, otherwise known as The LivePlan Method for Strategic Advising. This method allows the advisor to be scalable, efficient, and profitable in a field that can too easily be overwhelming and difficult to scope.
Other types of Expert Advisor services are: financial forecasting, market analysis, business plan writing, succession planning, loan preparation, and management accounting.
Once trained, Expert Advisors can choose to be listed in our online directory, which we market and promote to all small businesses in our ecosystem.
The LivePlan ecosystem is special
There are lots and lots of directories available to small business owners for finding business guidance and expert help.
But, the LivePlan ecosystem is special for these reasons:
- LivePlan small business users are primed for strategic help. We know this because they enter our ecosystem specifically looking for business planning guidance, and they do so early—often before they have even selected an accounting system. So, they make excellent advising clients.
- LivePlan Expert Advisors want to provide these types of strategic services, and our program allows them to specialize in whichever area of business advisory they choose. Some are accounting professionals, some are advisors at Small Business Development Centers, and some are business consultants and coaches. This ensures that small businesses always have variety and don’t have to worry that our EAs are too narrowly focused.
- LivePlan software is perfectly suited to serve everyone along the small business development spectrum, at any stage of growth, from idea stage to operational and beyond.
- The LivePlan Method ensures that advisors provide targeted help along the entire spectrum of small business needs. It helps advisors scale and be profitable, and teaches how to begin an engagement and grow it over time.
Small businesses prefer cloud-based and virtual services
We also asked small businesses about their accounting tools and technology preferences, and how open they are to working with an Expert Advisor virtually, rather than in person.
Here’s what we found:
LivePlan small business owners prefer cloud-based accounting solutions, and a large percentage have either not yet chosen an accounting system or are using outdated products—and they want help making that choice. This represents a huge opportunity for advisors who offer accounting services.
LivePlan small business owners vastly prefer virtual services. Otherwise known as remote services, virtual services help both the advisor and the small business owner be efficient. Cloud software is a critical component of virtual services.
When asked if they would work with an advisor virtually, 89 percent said yes.
When asked to rank the most important aspects of working with an expert advisor, “ability to work virtually” ranked third, and “advisor’s location” ranks nearly the lowest. Our small businesses are telling us overwhelmingly they value virtual services! In addition, industry-specific experience and clarity in pricing ranks high.
Expert Advisors match the needs of LivePlan small businesses
LivePlan Expert Advisors embrace cloud-based software and virtual services. Our SBDC Expert Advisors promote an in-person working relationship because they work with regional businesses. But 95 percent of our accounting-focused Expert Advisors specialize in virtual services—they work with any business in their home nation. The accounting industry is driving this evolution because they know that public accountants must offer more than traditional compliance-based services like bookkeeping and tax preparation.
Besides being better for their business growth, cloud-based software and virtual services provide better security, accuracy of data, and transparency of information.
LivePlan makes strategic connections
The LivePlan ecosystem is vast and these small businesses find us early in their journey. Eventually, they are looking for the specific type of help that LivePlan Expert Advisors bring.
We know you want to grow your advisory business or center, and we want to nurture LivePlan clients along their journey. We couldn’t be happier to offer the Expert Advisor Directory and market it, using the same techniques that drive millions of small businesses to our sites monthly.
If you are a small business advisor looking for a way to work with more small businesses and help them grow strategically, we invite you to be a LivePlan Expert Advisor.
The process to become a LivePlan Expert Advisor is straightforward:
- Start your LivePlan free trial and take our training
- Pass a short exam
- Set up a LivePlan demo account using certain criteria
- Send us your listing information
Helping a small business grow is the best job in the world. We’re doing everything we can to make it easy for our small business users to find the help they need to achieve their dreams. Join us!
Kathy Gregory has over 20 years of experience in business development, including: financial forecasting, strategic planning, process development, project management, and mergers and acquisitions. She has worked in public and private, small to mid-size organizations doing business development, and strategic planning and implementation, working with executives, boards and their investors. At LivePlan Kathy runs the specialized program for Strategic Advisors. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon.