I’ve written about buying business advice from the perspective of the business advice junkie or addict in the past.
These are the business owners who buy too much and never get around to implementing much in their own businesses. Unfortunately this has become particularly prevalent in the make money on the Internet niche. I’ve written an article, Protect Yourself From Guru Greed for these people.
Today I thought I’d look at it from the other perspective…
Why Don’t Some Business Owners Buy More Business Advice?
First, why should they buy advice?
Many Small Businesses Perform Badly
Various statistics are bandied around for small business failure (see What Causes Business Failure) that may exaggerate the situation but too many businesses fail.
Even more struggle to survive. One of the big insights I received when I was a trainee accountant in the early 1980s was that the dream of being your own boss wasn’t as good as most people think. Since I’ve gone back to work with small businesses, I know this situation hasn’t changed.
Even if a business is doing well, I don’t believe that there is a business that can’t be improved by an injection of new ideas.
The Different Types Of Business Owner And Their Response To Business Advice
Business Owner Type 1 – “I don’t need any business advice.”
Some people are born with incredible instincts for what customers want, have a clear vision of how it can be delivered, the confidence to take action and the natural ability to lead and persuade other people.
It sounds like you are a budding Bill Gates or Richard Branson destined to change the lives of millions of people. You’re a natural risk taker.
However, while these people have great insight, if you read their biographies, they surround themselves with excellent people to compensate for gaps in their skills and knowledge.
Business Owner Type 2 “I don’t want any business advice.”
You may not be happy with the performance of your business but you don’t want to take business advice.
Perhaps you believe that you’ll just be told what you already know or that business advice is only common sense anyway.
Often there is a good dose of common sense but I often hear clients say “Why didn’t I think of that. It’s obvious when you say it.”
It’s often difficult to see what’s happening (or not happening) in your own business because you are so close to it.
Perhaps your pride gets in the way and you are determined to do it your way without any outside interference.
I wish you luck, but tactfully I feel obliged to point out that you are likely to get better results if you open yourself up to ideas from other sources.
Why try to invent the wheel when it’s already been done?
Business is difficult enough without trying to start from scratch every time you try something new. It’s better to build on the accumulated knowledge and best practices of the past.
I don’t understand why you are prepared to waste time and money making mistakes which can be avoided.
Business Owner Type 3 “My friends at the golf club (or pub) give me all the business advice I need for free.”
That’s great if your friends are business professionals or fellow business owners who have committed their life to learning.
It’s not so good if you are benefiting from their bravado that masks moderate performance in their own businesses that comes from doing the same old things in the same old ways.
Appearances of success can be deceptive. There is no shortage of stories of businesses collapsing when the top managers and owners appear to be financially successful.
A famous insolvency practitioner in the UK had an informal early warning system to identify distressed companies. These warning signs included businesses where the owner drove a Rolls Royce or a similar fancy and expensive car. These status symbols can be leased while there is money but when the money runs out, everything collapses.
Your business friends have the advantage of knowing you and your situation. Or at least the situation as far as your pride lets you admit. It is tough to say that things aren’t going well to friends who like and respect you so you be not even be giving them the chance to help you as much as they could.
Business Owner Type 4 – “I can get all the business advice I need free off the Internet”
It’s true there is a lot of business building information available for free on the Internet.
Some of it is very good, some is OK and some is poor.
There are two big problems:
The first is being able to assess the quality upfront. If you can’t, you waste a lot of time while you are searching for the golden nuggets.
The second is that you are rarely given the complete answer. Most business advice information is posted on the Internet by business advisors, consultants and coaches of one variety or another. This is part of their marketing strategy and tactics and it’s designed to attract and convert you to buy their services or products.
I admit that I am the same. I sometimes write very long, informative blog posts but I know that the advice I give to clients is even better because it’s more comprehensive and tailored to their particular businesses.
I accept that one of the big problems with business advice is that it is expensive.
I should also remind you that free advice is only good value if you gain from it. Even then, it may not give you the best result.
Learning how to make £1,000 extra profit for free is great – you’ve got £1,000 that you didn’t have before.
Spending £1,000 to earn £5,000 is even better because your gain is bigger.
This is a key issue to think about because it’s not the cost of the advice that matters but the difference between the gain you make and the cost of the advice.
There’s a danger to thinking that the marketing consultant who charges $2,000 per hour is much better than the one charging $200. You might hear the same ideas from both.
However, if you’re much more likely to pay attention to what the expensive consultant says, he may be the one to hire.
Business Owner Type 5 – “I only need specialist advice.”
You accept that you don’t know everything about the specialist compliance subjects like tax and employment law because it is impossible to keep up-to-date with everything.
You will therefore pay your accountant and lawyer, perhaps not willingly, but they are saving you money over the long term.
However, you don’t believe that you want or need general business advice on sales, marketing, finance and team leadership.
You could be right or you could be leaving yourself open to making common mistakes that cost you time, money and lost opportunities for extra profit.
I’m not going to try to convince you that all business coaches, advisors and consultants are great or that you should buy a multitude of books and audio programs.
You’ve made your own mind up and whatever I say isn’t going to convince you.
Will you do one thing for me?
Will you commit to learning from your experiences as a buyer and a seller, as an employee and a manager, as a borrower and a lender.
You can learn a lot from watching and listening to other business people.
It takes an open mind and plenty of effort to keep alert to the tactics that work and don’t work. It is well worth doing if you’re determined that you’re not going to tap into the knowledge of the people who make it their business to learn about business improvement ideas.
Business Owner Type 6 – “I can’t afford to buy professional business advice”
This business owner knows that there is a gap in knowledge and other people have good ideas, but they’ve got themselves trapped in a money-saving mindset.
They know professional business advisors are expensive. The better they are, the more expensive they will be.
And they’re scared of the costs, not recognising that it’s not what you pay that matters but how much you gain over and above what you pay.
Do You Recognise Yourself In One Of These Business Owners?
I’m the opposite. I believe in business advice and I buy plenty of it.
I believe in constantly improving my knowledge, especially in the areas of marketing and strategy because that’s where my interests lie.
I know a lot but I know that there are always more ideas to learn.
Even If You’re Reluctant To Buy Business Advice, Isn’t It Worth Trying Some?
You may have lots of doubts about the benefit of business advice but don’t you think you should suspend your disbelief occasionally, if only to prove that you are right?
Just as I encourage the business advice junkies to stop buying and go “cold turkey”, so that they can start implementing, I encourage you to try it.