When do you Listen to the Experts?

I’ve consulted a number of business “experts” about issues in my business. Some of them have been very helpful about general things. The rare one has been helpful about specific things. An alarming number were no help at all, for one primary reason:

  • They did not understand what my business is, and they did not “hear” when I tried to explain. They wanted to make my business conform to their idea of what it should be, rather than seeing what I wanted it to become and then stepping outside their box to help me make it into that vision.

One expert told me, “Your business is just like every other small business website design company. How are you going to differentiate yourself?” This, after I had just explained how we were different, and what made our business so revolutionary. They didn’t have enough of an understanding of the web development world to even have a clue what we were saying.

Another told me to choose the line that was the most profitable and forget the other two. I tried to explain that was precisely what made our business revolutionary and gave it the potential to be something more than just “another web firm”. If I focus on web development without the rest, we are just another company. If I focus on teaching, I lose the ability to teach anything new because I have no experience in which to develop the strategies that make my teaching effective (a primary problem with most web development training is that it is taught by teachers who have little real-life experience, and NO microbusiness experience). If I focus solely on the trade association, I lose the ability to benefit the members with training, and I lose the edge of day to day experience with clients – the very thing that makes the trade association work. All three, together, can reshape an industry and have HUGE potential. One, by itself, is just another in a long line of ineffective attempts to make something great. The expert didn’t get it, because he didn’t want to listen.

  • Any time an expert hands out canned information that is not applicable to your situation, you need to have the confidence to disregard it.
  • If an expert hands out information that could be adapted to apply, you need to have the confidence to adapt it – and keep asking until you learn how.
  • If you explain something to an expert, and they still hand you the same thing they handed you before you explained, then find another expert because this one isn’t listening.

Business counsel is not a “one size fits all” solution to every business problem. This is especially true if you are developing a revolutionary concept. You need to work with people who are willing to see the “ah-ha” moment in your concept, who are willing to catch the potential, who can get excited about it and then use their skills to help you develop the potential that is there.

Training, consultation, and coaching can be a huge help in getting over a hurdle in your business. But only if the expert is willing to listen long enough to understand just what it is you are trying to achieve. Otherwise, their guidance is going to be useless, and potentially harmful to your ability to achieve.

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