Re-printed with the permission of Chuck Blakeman.
Get an advisor, not an expert.
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” –Charles H. Duell, commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899
The problem with experts and gurus is they already know everything. If you ask them for help, you’ll often get stale, static advice based on a narrow view, bad assumptions and old ideas. How do you find good advice? Get an advisor, not an expert.
“The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo, 1876.
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977
Advisors vs. Experts/Gurus
An expert or guru already knows everything, which usually makes them a terrible place to find help. An advisor knows the only way to get to a good plan is to start with a bad plan and work constantly to make it better.
Never use an expert or a guru. Here’s some “advice” on how to find an advisor instead:
The Perfect Advisor
1. Doesn’t have 12 easy steps to success. That expert/guru has no idea how to succeed.
2. Sees possibilities, and understands that almost no new business is going to land on the product it will make money at right away. It takes 5-10 iterations to find the money-maker. An “expert” will tell you how bad your idea is. An advisor will help you get from your initial idea to the money-maker.
3. Doesn’t start by seeing if the numbers work. The numbers almost NEVER work early on. It’s about resolve and commitment first, the numbers second.
4. Helps you test your resolve to somehow make it work in the face of great odds and your mother’s voice in your head telling you not to take risks.
5. Leads you to gain clarity about the end result you really want.
6. Gives you tools to keep that end result directly in front of you at all times to effect every decision you make.
7. Promotes a sane assessment of where you are right now – doesn’t blow smoke about the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
8. Helps you define the next few steps to get from where you are to where you are going.
9. Doesn’t confuse you with defining every single step between where you are and where you want to go. Don’t do a Business Plan – it’s a huge waste of time. Just know clearly the end result and the next few steps to get there.
10. Keeps you focused on three simple things – 1) Where am I? 2) Where do I want to go? 3) What are the next few steps?
11. Keeps you from doing useless and endless research about what could happen if you ever did something.
12. Gets you MOVING and helps you plan as you go – Implement now. Perfect as you go. (not Implement now. Never perfect; or “Perfect now. Never implement).
I’m a big fan of Outside Eyes on your business. Get advice, just don’t get it from people who have it all figured out. Find somebody who says they’ve made a lot of mistakes and knows that life is more like a stream than a canal – it’s messy and flows all over the place on the way to the ocean. Business is the same – it’s messy and flows all over the place on the way to success.
People with easy answers haven’t faced the hard questions. Get an advisor, not an expert. You’ll be much more likely to get where you’re going.
Photo credit to iStock