Do you know, or do you think you know?

One of my mentors early on in business tough me this very important question: “do you know, or do you think you know”. The answer to that is key in many areas of business. It is something that you need to constantly be asking of yourself. But today, I’ll brush back on my discussions about building a team of advisers. You need to surround yourself with people who know that they know what they’re doing. How often do we get caught in “not knowing what we didn’t know”. We cannot afford that of our advisers who we are paying (or should be paying) good money for. (On an side, you should be paying your advisers at least twice as much as you are charging our clients!)

Now the big quandary is that you are paying them to know what you don’t, so how do you determine that they know more about something that you don’t know about? Double-talk, sounds like it. So how can you really know this. I was watching a program on PBS the other day about wealth management, it just happened to be on. Some of what they guy had to say made a lot of sense, other parts didn’t. But what I took away was how he addressed this very problem – how do you know your adviser knows his stuff.

The answer is simple, ask plenty of open ended questions and judge how he responds. The content is less valuable then how… For example, what is the most recent law change, that they know of, which affects their role. For example, the case of us choosing an HR attorney (back in 2006), what law has recently changed that affects employer/employee relations. They should be able to name something specific, that they can explain in layman’s terms and note that it was recently (say the last 3 months or so). When I spoke with our attorney recently, I brought up that I noticed that the Court of Appeals of California ruled that employers are not required ensure employees take their breaks, but rather that they are only required to ensure that the break is available and cannot prevent or dissuade them from taking their breaks. This was a landfall ruling for employers. When I brought this up, my attorney mention, that yes, it was a big victory for employers, but it really doesn’t mean a whole lot until it is turned into law, which is what it is in the course of doing right now. You need to have people on your team that are more informed about the current issues than you are.

Another couple of questions to as are:

  • How to you keep yourself up-to-date in your trade?
  • What is the last conference/seminar you attended?
  • When was your last certification/credential/etc?
  • When was the last time you worked with a client with a similar situation as mine? (This would be a great one to ask your medical doctor next time!)
  • What was the last time you turned away a client because their need did not match up with your ability?

Those are challenging questions to ask your advisers — or candidates. They are also challenging questions we need to honestly ask ourselves for our own business.

There is a lot of people who “practice” in their area of employment — do you really want to be “practiced” upon? There is no perfect advisor out there for you, but there are a lot of bad choices. A lot of people who “think” they know what they’re doing. We call those interns, or journeyman, or whatever. There is a place for them, and they may be a part of your team in some areas. But you also need your fair share of experienced people on your team, someone to pickup the slack. A good example may be this…Dancing…

In dancing, there is a leader and a follower — they are typically separated out by gender roles, but not always. My wife and I have very little experience dancing and can fumble through a lot of things, more on my end then hers. We trying a free private ballroom dancing session. It was amazing, when either of us danced with the pro, we did fine. But when we danced with each other it seems to go far worse. We did get through it, but they key was when we were with the pro, one of us knew what was going on. When neither of us had a clue, it fell apart. The same goes for your team. If at least one of you is a pro, they can acknowledge the deficiencies of a team member and help bring them up to speed. But when your team is full of amateurs, you can get into trouble quick. Yes you can fumble through it, but the mistakes may be costly.

Make sure you have more pro’s then amateurs on your team. If you are an amateur at business, then you need to hire a few pros. If you’re a pro, then perhaps an amateur or two may be an acceptable liability for you. But in the beginning, don’t skimp on experience!

Building your legal team

Going hand-and-hand with spending money to save time, it is important to begin building your legal team before you find yourself in any specific need for them. That way, when a crisis or any other urgent need for a legal consult is needed, you already know who and how much it is going to cost. There is nothing worse then needing to terminate an employee ASAP, surrounding a sticky situation, and then turning to the phone book to sort through a bunch of people. By deciding to build you team in advance, you can perform you due diligence now with the luxury of time.

Building Relationship

As we’ve gone through the years of building our small business, it has become abundantly clear that meeting and knowing the right people is the cause of many successes in business. You may have all of the knowledge, and do the right thing; provide excellent service and be great at what you do. However, more often then not, it is meeting the right person at the right time, and knowing it – and then leveraging it for all it’s worth! We can look at Bill Gates who happened upon the creator of DOS and brought it to new heights – and it was a real win-win for both; and while Gates really made out in the end, the poor developer still made far more than he probably would have without Bill. So many it is the strategic relationship. Or it is the introduction which is made to open up all new markets and customer bases. Knowing your stuff is critical, however it will not take you very far. It is making the right relationships, taking the time to network and really build those partnerships. And it really help to “network” by showing how you can see yourself helping them, providing to them, to grow their network, businesses, impact — not how you can use them to see your services, exploit them to grow your business. There is an old adage of givers-gain, or paying-forward. See what you can bring to the table for the other person, and it can return huge dividends. Two of the greatest sources of businesses for our company has resulted from meeting key individuals after we took the effort to go out of our way to help other people succeed.

Spend money to save time

There is an adage which many company’s continually contend with: at points we will spend time to save money, at others spending money to save time… During various stages, typically during the early growth stage, we spend a lot of time, 60-70-80 hours per week, in order to save every penny possible. Later on, we learn and have the financial resources to spend money to save our valuable time. This goes back and fourth throughout every stage of a company’s existence.

The big lesson hear is to first acknowledge this principle and then decide how to best leverage this for your own business. Sometimes the right knowledge and expertise provided by a professional is worth more than 100 hours of personal research. So, spending money may actually be priceless.

Powered by

Up ↑