Likely your situation was similar.
People with advanced degrees, certifications, or years of experience in their fields certainly deserve respect based on their merits – doctors, dentists, lawyers, and so on. So do the professionals you hire when you run a business – lawyers, bankers, subject-matter experts, CPAs, and so on.
A personal story.
In 1999, my first son was born with an extremely serious heart defect. We found out about it twenty weeks before his due date, so I had some time for research. I educated myself on it as much as possible, and we chose, partially based on my research, to take him to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles for his initial treatment – a few days after he was born.
We were surrounded by some of the best professionals in the cardiac care arena. We had a great pediatric cardiologist. A great cardiothoracic surgeon. Great NICU nurses. Everyone was a very capable professional in his or her individual discipline.
I was 35 years old, devastated by the seriousness of my son’s defect and I really just wanted to turn him over to these people – to this system – and let them take care of it and, well, make everything ok.
But I learned very quickly that I was in a unique and vital position amongst these professionals. While I am not educated in medicine, I knew the whole story, the options, the processes we had been through already, dates, medicine options, side effects, and so on. I had the “big picture” which figured in crucially in some important situations and around some very strategic decisions. Some of the information I provided in our discussions changed the way these professionals prescribed our next move.
Nobody knew the whole story better than my wife and I.
It’s that way in business too!
If you need a banker, you have to see how her type of loan or financing fits into your big picture. In my early stages of my company, my banker suggested factoring my receivables as a way to finance my growth and they would charge 4%. But my bottom line was only 8%! I could not give up ½ of my net income to finance the business! In the end, we found a better way.
If you have a great CPA, understand that he is, by the nature of his chosen career, probably more conservative than you are. He will have recommendations on write-offs, tax strategies, and so on, but only YOU know your propensity to take risks. You’ll likely be comfortable with some risks he is not. But you get to choose, not him!
If you get into legal trouble, find the absolute best attorney you can! But don’t turn the whole thing over to her! She’s charging you by the hour, win or lose, and her motivation to end this quickly and painlessly for you does NOT align with your own! (One friend of mine had a family attorney when he was getting a divorce who told him their case would settle that coming Friday. “Friday?”, he asked, “How do you know?” “Because you’re out of cash,” she replied. True story! Can you believe it?)
Your attorney may be the best expert in her field (good for you!), but it does NOT mean she is a great strategist. You still have to drive that part, while factoring in her legal advice. She knows the rules of the game. YOU are the player.
Here’s the main point.
As a business owner or leader, you need to understand these people are professional technicians. They are experts in their fields, but not in your field, and not in your strategy. Nobody knows your business better than you: history, strategy, hopes, fears, personnel issues – even just the gut feel. No, you have to continue to run the show and to manage these resources, just like any other resources in your business.
When have you hired a pro, and then realized you still needed to run the show? I’d love your comments, and as always, if you think this post would be meaningful for someone, please share!