It’s another great opportunity to write today. Welcome once again. Today we are going to consider the aspect of experts. What I mean by experts are people who are highly skilled, experienced and specialized in their respective fields of professionalism. You might for example need a certified accountant to guide you regarding your accounting system, internal controls, taxation etc. You might also need a marketing consultant to help you develop some marketing strategies to move your enterprise forward in terms of market share, branding, media, etc. You might also need an acquisition specialist and lawyer to guide you through the process of buying that business you have all along been eyeing, to add to your business portfolio. I believe you understand what I mean by experts? Don’t you?
Now, you have got to be a smart entrepreneur, because in today’s diverse world there are sometimes fake experts who move up and down deceiving people and taking undue advantage of ignorant entrepreneurs. While some fields such as accountancy are regulated in many countries, other fields are not, and you could find yourself regretting why you ever used an ‘expert’. My objective today in this blog is one – to share some pieces of advice that can help you when selecting experts to guide you in your entrepreneurial decisions and actions. Even if you are not hiring an expert today, you might need this knowledge for tomorrow. You never can tell when you will rush to an expert. Can you? OK – so what are some of the key or top considerations to put into perspective when selecting experts?
- Blend of knowledge and deployment of knowledge. Have you ever met those experts who are excellently good in giving advice but cannot see your enterprise through the implementation of that advice, even when you have availed all that they need? Consultancy delivery comprises documenting the advice, and then ensuring implementation of the advice. Knowledge has to be blended with action. Sometime back I said that business management knowledge obtained from the classroom has to be blended with street smartness. I know you will tell me that you hired the consultant to advice you only, and you take charge of implementation. I can hear you – but my advice is, let the adviser participate in the implementation also. If you could not know that your enterprise had that problem then most probably you also don’t know how to implement its solutions. At the end of the day you know yourself better – and it’s your business anyway. I would prefer an expert who will also see me through implementation of that very good advice. Isn’t this good?
- Use your six senses. Do you have some warning signs when discussing with or briefing your potential expert about your issues? Do you see some knowledge gaps, some pretense, lack of understanding the core issue, lack of depth, lack of integrity etc in your candidate? When you deploy your six senses to work it’s not entirely difficult for you to eliminate some of the potential ‘experts’ before it’s late. Don’t you think so? However, you have got to be wise because you could read some people wrong, and moreover not every person has mastered the art of body language, presentation and communication. Again, don’t be swept off your feet by some mediocre but overconfident ‘expert’ who appeals to all your six senses but falls flat on the ground on project delivery.
- References and other additional checks. Mr. Entrepreneur, I would also not hesitate to advise you to have some reference checks in addition to any validation checks you would like. Do you know that often times we make hiring decisions simply because our colleague’s auntie’s cousin recommended someone? Have you indeed done some independent checks? Do the personality and other profiles fit your requirements? Does your potential expert have the required experience? I’m not telling you to spring up at a University Dean’s office to check someone’s degree. Don’t take it too far. You probably only rarely come across the bold-faced primary school drop-out masquerading around with a fake master degree certificate claiming to be a consultant!
- Don’t be dumb – the smart always know the smart. My dear, I have mentioned over and over again in my blogs that you need to be a smart entrepreneur. You also need to have wide knowledge to properly manage and grow your enterprise. Something on marketing, something on finances, something on tax, something on law, another thing on human capital management etc. If you are just a candle machine specialist desiring to build an international business on candles, without other broader enterprise management knowledge, most likely you will not go far with your candles. Now, if you are a dumb entrepreneur you might not differentiate a smart consultant or expert from an opaque one. Isn’t this a true saying? A student with a very low IQ might not distinguish a bad teacher from a good one. If you have no clue about taxation for example, you will be nodding your head in agreement with a tax consultant who is telling you a lie about how he or she will reduce your tax liabilities by 80%. If you want to hire smart – be smart yourself. Period.
- Be honest and true to yourself. You need to know your needs. What is it that you want guidance in? What expertise and specialization are you looking for? What are the issues in your enterprise where you have challenges you want to troubleshoot? Candidly, if you have no clue you most likely will end up with a bad expert. Of course, I’m not forgetting the fact that sometimes entrepreneurs indeed cannot competently identify and define their problems. But there are also entrepreneurs who tell the expert their enterprises have human capital problems when the right human capital is being mismanaged. There are those who talk of severe liquidity problem when they are actively diverting business resources into other dreams. Do you get what I mean? You don’t need to waste money and waste a consultant’s time to repeat to you what you already know, or give you implementation points you have lazily deferred or ignored. Why not save the world some time?
- The rest such as fees, contracts, deliverables etc. When hiring a consultant or an expert to guide you in your business, beyond the above enumerated selection issues, there are other fundamentals such as fees, engagement contracts, agreeing on service deliverables etc. If you really need value addition through such endeavors then you must ensure that the rest of the areas are well taken care of. Don’t let a good expert run away because you are too mean with money, and yet you can negotiate and afford it. You might be the type that is hard to part with a kobo, pence, or a cent. Additionally, ensure that you have drafted, discussed, agreed and signed a contract of service indicating all the deliverables and other critical issues. If you come face to face with a consultant that is allergic to contracts then I advise you to run as fast as you can. Avoidance of commitment is a danger sign!
I guess it’s time to get moving now. If your enterprise is valuable to you – and I do hope so – and you are reaching out to get expert help in whatever entrepreneurial challenge you have, please kindly do the right thing in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Get the right expert! It’s better to be wise and proactive than come back whining about some bad consultant who did not do this, did not do the other, did the wrong thing, wasted your hard-earned money, cheated you, was a fake, hardly had a clue of the problem, was a bad recommendation, blah blah blah! You will only have yourself to blame – nobody else.
By the way, have you read my blog on the qualities of a good mentor? You could check it out through the link below this page.
I sign off here for today.
Sincerely – and nice weekend,
The Wise Entrepreneur