With the constant bombardment of content across business and social media, one would imagine that there is enough expert information out there for all small businesses to be growing off the charts. Yet, in reality, they are not. Is your business booming? If not, it’s certainly not for a lack of tips, advice, knowledge and experience that is blasted out to us every day.
The cynic in me suspects that, in reality, very little useful content is actually getting to small business owners, that it’s out of context and too bite-sized to be adopted in the business. From what I see in the posts with the most likes and followers, it’s not quality or usefulness of content that gets all of the attention, but the personality, entertainment and easy answers that these personalities broadcast. As a regular consumer of business media, it seems that the experts care more about themselves, forwarding their careers and building their follower base, than you. It’s just wrapped up in the guise of ‘advice’.
Much of the ‘expertise’ that is delivered is the equivalent of the take-away: small, portion-packaged bites to be read on the go, that give a quick hit of inspiration or ideas but fade and often leave you hungry. There are countless gurus spouting all manner of advice in this format on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media. But beware, their game is not about you.
The results of this are business owners with knee-jerk approaches to business strategy, lurching from one idea to the next because their favourite guru said so. How often does a business owner read a post then rush off to take action because they get half the story, often not really applicable to their business? I speak to business owners all the time who spend thousands on misguided strategies, as they feel anxious that they have to “be on social media” or “be on Google Ads.” To make it worse, I see business owners asking for all sorts of important advice from complete strangers on social media, with no understanding of their expertise and no information about the context of the business. Take-away advice is being taken on issues as important (and risky) as hiring, investing in property, legal advice and taxation.
Sometimes the espoused genius, achievements and talents of the gurus are not as flawless as they would have you believe either. Plenty of people on the speaking circuit don’t have the amazing achievements that we may expect, they are just focused on promoting their own brand.
Business advice needs to be given in context, from experts who understand your whole situation, the business owner, the market, your history and products. That takes time. Bite-sized tips are fine, but businesses are not one-size-fits-all. Just because one guru had success with one strategy with their market, at that time, for their product or service, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
I know small businesses are time poor, and don’t really want to spend money on professional advice, but quick fixes and silver bullets are fantasy. Since most businesses aren’t booming, we can safely say that this constant flood of advice is not benefiting business owners much. It would be wise to spend a little more time on actual strategy and planning – it pays a lot more in the long run. Next time you go searching for advice, take a bit more time to establish a longer-term relationship with people who know you and your business. Take-away is fine sometimes, but it’s a balanced diet that delivers the best health in the long-term.
By: Dr. Warren Harmer