As a small business owner in the 21st century, you live in an age where knowledge and information are readily available through many different channels.
There are numerous television shows, websites, magazines, and consultants all purporting to have the resources and insights that will make you and your business a runaway success. Experts offer their expert advice on finances, employees, innovation, marketing, and myriad other subjects. How do you draw on all this expertise without losing your own voice and vision?
This is a difficult question for many small business owners, as it requires a trade-off between strength (demonstrating leadership and control) and humility (acknowledging that you don’t know everything and being open to learning).
Awe-struck small business owners may also be tempted to adopt wholesale a renowned personality’s views without question or doubt, not stopping to think about whether the advice applies to their individual circumstances.
Trusting the experts can have its advantages: they may bring different worldviews and specific techniques or methodologies that are useful; they may be better equipped to deal with crisis situations (e.g. crippling debt, public relations debacles); because they or their ideas are external to the organization, it may be easier to overcome resistance and effect change; and there is just something comforting and reassuring about receiving and following expert advice.
In spite of all this, small business owners should remember that they know themselves, what they are trying to achieve, and the business’s operations better than anyone else.
Trusting and believing in themselves first and foremost is therefore essential to managing relationships with others, including experts. There may be instances where small business owners are persuaded to explore new territory they are not familiar or comfortable with – this may be what the business needs, but it should be backed up by sound reasoning, not slavish obedience to expert opinion or advice. As a small business owner ask ‘Exactly who is in charge here?’ If the answer is that it is the experts and not you, this may be symptomatic of deeper problems in the business.