Advice is one of the most important commodities in the business world. You only have access to your own perspective when you’re making decisions, and getting advice that can widen that perspective and allow you to anticipate both pitfalls and more opportunities for success can give you a huge advantage over less open-minded rivals.
Not all advice is equal: some businesses make their profits by selling advice in the form of consultancy services or market research. If you’re going to invest in services like these, you need to know you’re getting useful results. Equally, when advice is given away for free by people you trust and like, it’s not guaranteed to be helpful. You need some means to work out where you can get advice that’s valuable to your business: informed, actionable and trustworthy.
A Broader Perspective
A time where it’s really worth paying for advice is when it gives you access to a broader perspective, more data and more insight than you have available. Market Intelligence companies have data gathering and interpretation expertise that dwarf what you have the capacity for in your own business.
Advice from an individual, be it a trusted friend or a consultant is valuable if they have a similarly expanded perspective. If they have a similar background and experience to you then their advice will only reinforce your existing beliefs. To expand your ability to anticipate errors and avoid them, or find new opportunities for success you need to add as many new perspectives to your business as you can.
There is a concept that’s made its way into business from science fiction called the Outside Context Problem. Originally defined by Iain M Banks for his novel Excession, an Outside Context Problem is something you simply cannot predict because it’s entirely outside your framework for understanding the world. The last large scale Outside Context problem to affect businesses across the world is likely the rise of internet retail, but any business is susceptible to its own OCPs based on the experience of the key decision-makers: if you have little experience and don’t hire a diverse team to expand your point of view, you’re limiting the ability of your business to anticipate change and face it successfully.
It’s this that makes business advice well worth looking for: it allows you to expand your context, meaning you can plan for more and are less susceptible to ‘outside context problems’