I was recently asked if an email about personal security was for real. It said, in big bold letters:

“Tell everyone, even the checkout-out girl … put your car keys beside your bed at night  … If you hear a noise or have a heart attack set off the alarm!”

While perhaps interesting for some people; most of the “advice” – for various reasons – was nonsense.

A colleague forwarded an e-zine about how to “Select the Right Insurance Using a Needs Analysis.” Though some of the points were valid, the two page article was over-simplified, vague, confusing, and in several places, blatantly wrong. Trying to follow their roadmap would have been time consuming and difficult, if not impossible.

How Does This Happen?

There is so much information available today, and it’s tempting to check some of it out. Sure, some sites are valuable and bulletins or advice is good – but how can you weed out the misleading, inaccurate drivel to pay attention to what makes sense?

  • Lots of business owners get tons of stuff from the Internet – they believe it and depend on it. They think they are saving money by not having to hire experts.  I see contracts, leases, safety policies, employee handbooks all downloaded, often in different pieces, cobbled together with different fonts and vocabulary.
  • I see many e-zines purporting to offer valuable advice – some information may be absolutely correct – but may not be applicable to your situation or particular circumstance. Some authors try to simplify; others seem to want to appear important and knowledgeable – a thought leader.  Few have the actual feet-on-the-ground business owner experience and understand the issues, subtleties, problems, or sinkholes.

Coping Skills

  • You often need quick facts or comparisons to make a decision. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, as soon as your need goes beyond Information in the DIKW pyramid, you must trust, be skeptical, and verify.
  • Remember to consider the difference between an investment and an expense. Money out the door always looks like an expense. Always ask the question – am I considering if this might be a critical investment?
  • Engage and cultivate advisors with real expertise that you can trust and rely on. You want the ones who have been there, who have struggled with and resolved issues and problems, who will tell you the truth, and who are without ego and conflicts of interest.

What’s your experience and what are your skills to avoid being blindsided? What mistakes have you made? Please share your comments on the blog.

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