We each have to find our own route to success but in trying to find your pathway, have you become a business advice junkie addicted to getting more and more?
It occurs to me that business owners and managers fall into TEN different categories when it comes to business advice:
- "I don't need any business advice."
Congratulations, you are an entrepreneur, ready to take risks and a budding Bill Gates or Richard Branson destined to change the lives of millions of people.
Some people are born with incredible instincts for what customers want, have a clear vision of how it can be delivered and the natural ability to lead and persuade other people.
- "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 or your pride gets in the way and you want to imitate Frank Sinatra and do it "My Way."
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 struggle 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 rather than building on the accumulated knowledge and best practices of the past. Why waste time and money making mistakes which could be avoided?
- "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 isn't it.
But you don't believe that you want or need general business advice on sales, marketing, finance and team leadership.
You could be leaving yourself open to making common mistakes that cost you time, money and lost opportunities.
I'm not going to try to convince you that all business coaches, advisers and consultants are great or that you should buy a multitude of books and audio programs because you have made up your mind and whatever I say won't change it.
But 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 people.
If you see something you like, for example a referral method, then look at how you can adapt that idea to your own business. This is a concept that Jay Abraham calls funnel vision.
- "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 have committed their life to learning but not so good if you are benefiting from their bravado that masks moderate performance.
Do you really know that they are performing as well as they say they are?
There are no shortage of stories of businesses collapsing when the leading people appear to be doing very nicely. A famous insolvency practitioner in the UK had an informal early warning system to identify distressed companies and that included that the owner drove a Rolls Royce or similar.
I should also remind you that free advice is only good value if you gain from it and 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.
- "I know that I need to learn and I buy business books."
You are making a start but did you know that the majority of business books are not read.
This is the start of being a business junkie as you have spent your money but not had any benefits from your money.
The books may look impressive in the book case, especially if it's in an office that clients visit but the secret of success is not in just buying books.
There are too many that are badly written and discourage you from reading past the first chapter and it takes too much time anyway.
I recommend that you take a look at the book summary services and my Business Briefs. Reading book summaries are a great way for you to gain most of the benefits for a much smaller investment in time and money.
- "I know that I need to learn and I buy and read business books."
OK good but you could be on the road to being a serious business advice junkie.
What do you do when you read the books?
Do you take notes or highlight key sections to make the book and the key learning points easy to refer back to? Do you keep a note pad ready for any ideas that you have while reading the book?
Do you take any action? Do you take systematic action on a carefully worked out plan?
Do you select what you read carefully to enhance your strengths or to improve any weaknesses? Or are you tempted by the latest promotion with the nice cover and reassuring title? Why not take a look at my business book reviews.
- "I read the business books and try to put things into action but I don't get any benefits so I move on to implementing the ideas from the next book I've read."
OK you are still in serious business advice junkie territory here as your hunger for the next fix restricts the rush that you get from the last.
Now the problem may be the business books that you read aren't the best or you may be too impatient so your implementation is rushed and not effective.
It takes time to plan things out and do them right, to test and measure and see what works for you. If you jump to the next idea too quickly without getting the benefits then you need what Chet Holmes calls "pig-headed discipline and determination."
- "I know I need to learn but I don't like reading or listening on my own so I go to training courses but nothing seems to change."
You are still a junkie, spending money searching for the way to business success without finding it.
I have heard Jay Abraham talk about his disappointment that too many of the people who pay $25,000 to go on one of his week long training courses are enthusiastic when they are on the course but when they get back to work, the day-to-day routine kicks in and nothing changes.
Have you tried business coaching as a solution. It gives you that involvement with someone else on a weekly or monthly basis so you get feedback.
Coaching also forces you to be accountable as you now have someone else who cares about your business performance and who will encourage you to take action and challenge any excuses and delays.
- "I don't want to learn, I just want it done for me."
No problem with that approach as there are millions of business professionals - accountants, marketers, copywriters, project managers, interim managers, consultants, selling agents - who will do it for you.
Just recognise that generally you will get what you pay for so you have a choice - hire cheap and get OK work or go to the best and it will be expensive.
Finding the exceptions that will give you great value by delivering high quality services for a reasonable price is the biggest challenge you face.
When you have found your experts, let them do the work they do best. If they give you some advice that you don't feel comfortable about, then think very hard before rejecting it out of hand. What is it that they see that you don't or vice versa?
- "I am committed to all kinds of learning and continuous improvement and I then focus on purposeful action and committed implementation of the best ideas."
Congratulations you have got this business advice issue cracked.
A commitment to life-long learning and determined, effective action combined with sheer hard work is the best recipe for success that I know.
But don't try to do everything yourself. Focus on your high value activities and delegate or outsource other tasks.
As you can see, it's a tricky business with all this advice available and the Internet has only made it worse. So many experts can be found with a few simple searches in Google but in some ways, having so much choice makes any decision much harder.
If you think there is only one small business marketing book then that's what you read. If there is only one marketing consultant, then that's who you give a call.
But now it seems so much more complicated but that's why this blog was created.
To help you find:
- The best business books to read,
- The best audio programs to listen to,
- The best structured business programs
- And to help make you better informed so that you can find the best business coach, consultant or adviser in your area.
Look out for my follow up article "Cold Turkey For The Business Advice Junkie". It will help you to gain clarity and focus.