Who’s the Expert: Your Gut, Your Advisors, or Your Metrics?
Business owners get a lot of mixed messages when it comes to where you should place your trust.
You’re told to trust your gut … that you’re the true expert when it comes to your business.
But also, you shouldn’t be so sure of yourself that you ignore the guidance of your mentors and advisory board.
But also, the numbers tell the real truth, so listen to them above all else.
I know. It’s confusing. Let me assure you, even though all these ideas sound contradictory, they’re not. It’s all true. It’s not a matter of one person or entity having all the answers.
It’s a matter of knowing which voice carries the deepest wisdom on a case-by-case basis. And if you can understand how you, your advisors, and your metrics all complement each other to build a powerful decision-making system, you’ll see your business grow to heights you never imagined.
Let’s break this down.
When to Trust Yourself
The short answer is that you should always trust yourself. At the end of the day, your voice and your vision are what matter most in your business. As a general rule, I strongly discourage entrepreneurs from chasing strategies built around someone else’s vision for their business.
Having said that, there are areas where your first instincts are built on a foundation of limited insight. You’re not an expert in everything, and in subjects where your knowledge falls short, it’s important to make space for other opinions.
So for now, let’s clarify those areas where you absolutely know best.
What legacy are you building? What impact do you want to make on the world? What projects are you passionate about? What kind of life do you want to build for yourself, your family, and your team through your business?
This answer can only come from you, and every decision you make should be made with this vision in mind.
It’s fine to take strategy advice from someone else. Just make sure you’re using that strategy as a means to reach your vision.
Because the only way to succeed in business is to make your business your own.
What values define the way you and your team interact? In your mind, what does it look like to be “supportive,” “respectful,” or “communicative?” How do you want your team and customers to feel in your business?
No one—absolutely no one—should set these perimeters but you. And trust me, if you don’t determine and communicate what your company culture looks like, your team will do it for you.
What does your company stand for? In what ways do you want to serve the world and make life better for your clients and community?
The answer has to come from you. It also has to inform the way you market, sell, and fulfill your services.
Don’t let anyone tell you your marketing should take a more elevated tone if your mission is to be an approachable community resource. Don’t let the numbers make you obsess over shaving time off your services if you’re all about making the customer feel heard.
Center the mission and success will follow. (Bonus: you’ll also find more joy in what you do.)
When to Trust Your Advisors
I’m using the term “advisors” loosely here. I’m talking about anyone you turn to because they have more expertise on a specific topic.
This could be the colleague who’s really mastered marketing. It could be your paid advisory board. It could also be your most tech-savvy employee.
While none of these people can tell you what your business should become, they can help you find the best route from where you are to where you want to be. This is why it is especially important to share your vision and work with people who both understand and embrace it.
Your advisors are the true experts when it comes to:
Should you be investing in marketing or hiring right now? Is there new technology that could save time and prevent redundancy in your operations? How can you help the sales team improve their lead conversion rate?
You might have your own theories. And your own theories may be right, especially when it comes to your areas of strength. But you brought experts on for a reason. Be open to their ideas and be willing to try things that never would have occurred to you.
As a business owner, you’re probably aware of weaknesses—both your own and your business’s. But your advisors are in a unique position to reveal the weaknesses you might miss or help you separate the weaknesses that matter from the ones that don’t.
For example, if you’ve reached the point where you’re no longer needed on the job site, you rely on the employees who are there to let you know when customers are unhappy.
Advisors can also nudge us out of our comfort zones. If you resist building relationships with potential referral partners and property managers, your advisory board will call you out.
From major financial decisions to managing employee conflicts, your experts can offer a wider view of what’s at stake.
Without their insight, you’re at risk of massively underestimating potential losses. Or worse: you could fail to recognize potential gains.
When to Trust Your Metrics
Cold, hard numbers.
A surprising number of business owners resist the information behind all those little shapes and squiggles. But data offers insight that helps you make the most of your money and capitalize on your strengths.
Here’s where the metrics really shine:
The most common problem I see when it comes to business owners and their metrics is this:
Profits are low. The business owner sees that sad, little number and immediately blames the marketing.
It happens all the time. We tend to think that if we’re not doing great, it must be because not enough people know about us. Or because we haven’t done a good enough job convincing them that we’re worth a call.
But if you slow down and look at all the data, you might find:
- Leads are high, which means the marketing is working. It’s the close rates that are low.
- Leads are high and you’re booking the jobs, but payments are coming in really late.
- Leads are high, the close rate is high, payments are on time, but your profit margins are low because either you’re charging too little or you’re wasting resources.
Your business is a machine, and the data shows you which gear has gotten jammed.
Okay, so “success” can mean many different things. A fulfilling life is a successful life, no matter what the numbers say.
But for our purposes right now, we’re focusing on the question: “Did that project, campaign, or strategy do what you wanted it to do?”
Is that Facebook ad driving more traffic to your website? Is it enough to justify the expense? How many meetings came out of that trade show? How do your sales numbers look six months after promoting your top guy to head of sales?
And because the numbers will tell you what’s working, they can also help with:
Deciding Where to Invest Resources
The numbers show you where the waste is and where the opportunity is. Data tells you where to pull back and when to double down.
Perhaps most importantly, they help you determine which questions to ask.
Why is this ad resonating with buyers more than that ad? Why was I able to make such strong professional connections at the trade show, and how can I make that part of my larger strategy? How can I help my sales superstar become a superstar leader, too?
Build a System of Trust
One of the best things you can do for yourself as a business owner is to build a system you trust.
This means learning to trust yourself.
It means surrounding yourself with people you genuinely admire. People who are deeply insightful in their areas of expertise. People who care about helping you succeed.
And it means adopting technology and data-collection systems you can truly rely on.
When you trust the system, you can make decisions with a clearer head and a bolder heart.
Further Resources on This Topic
Free Video Course: Cultivating a Growth Mindset on the Job