Blog / Ask For Advice First

Ask For Advice Before Asking For Help

You thought you knew what your business needed. You hired a specialist company to create it for you. Then once it was complete and operating you discovered it wasn’t what you really needed. Then what you really discovered is you’re not as clear about your needs as you thought.

Where Did You Go Wrong?

Many business owners discover it’s not always best to hire a specialist who gives you what you asked for. It’s often more helpful to start by hiring people who will ask you good questions, to help you determine what you really need.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know.

The solution is simple. Ask for advice before asking for help. Hire a strategist or an advisor before you hire a specialist. A strategist will challenge your assumptions and create clarity on needs and priorities before everyone leaps into action. I’m not saying there’s no room for specialists. I’m just tired of tactics first and strategy to the rescue.

A Specialist’s Job Is To Skillfully Do What You Ask

Specialists often assume you know what you need. It’s not their job to second guess you, even though you may be:

  • making decisions based on assumptions
  • unclear on requirements and options
  • unsure about the order of operations
  • unfamiliar with how to direct your specialists
  • unable to evaluate their work, or
  • unaware of the long-term costs and implications of your project

A Strategist’s Job, By Contrast, Is To Ask Why

Job one for a strategist is to understand your situation, constraints, needs and success criteria. They challenge assumptions, clarify requirements, help determine the order of operations, direct specialists, evaluate success and work within the context of long-term costs and plans.

It’s obvious why we hire specialists to complete tasks and projects. There is immediate gratification and the perception of progress. Strategists are likely to challenge assumptions and send us back to a point we thought we were past, potentially delaying our progress.  Strategists can be frustrating to deal with as they tend to make us think before we act and make choices based on information and facts over emotion and desire. They can be annoyingly dispassionate, logical and methodical. Which is exactly why you should consider hiring them and how they create value.

Measure Twice And Cut Once

Think about it. “if you hardly have the means to invest in a solution once, where will you find the resources to do it again?”

I’ve come to see strategists as insurance against impulsiveness and inexperience. I also find their fees typically add between 10 and 20% to my project costs, in exchange for saving me the lost time and expense of starting over. The more often I repeat the mistake of leaping into action, the more often I seek consulting before I invest in new initiatives. I hope you will do the same.

About the Author

John is the president of Accrue and the author of Being Profitable. John’s been consulting since 1993, helping entrepreneurs start and grow companies. John was the VP Strategy at Rare Method Interactive and President of Advanced Information Marketing. John is a sales and marketing coach and consultant who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Share Post

Related Posts

Read Post

{{cat.name}}

Free Marketing Planning Guide

If you can't answer these questions, you're not ready to invest. Free Download.

Read Post

{{cat.name}}

Unleash Your Superpowers

How to turn a mild-mannered business owner into an unstoppable entrepreneur.

Leave a Reply

One Response to “Ask For Advice First”

  1. John, your insights are dead on.

    We see this time and time again, especially in the B2B space. Typically B2B C-Level teams rarely have a marketing lead, hence why marketing becomes an afterthought. This almost always leads to a tactical spin cycle when it is time to tell the world how great the product or service is. That’s why we hear cries for help, rather than requests for advice.

    Our agency has learned the valuable skill of asking “why” as well, because too often, as marketers, we want to appease our new accounts and do what they want, rather than taking the time to find solutions that actually grow their business. “Why” is the most powerful, yet least used question in marketing.

    Great post.