Buy Time by Buying Expertise

In his book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, business coach and consultant Dan Kennedy reveals the steps behind making the most of your frantic, time-pressured days so you can turn time into money. In this edited excerpt, the author offers compelling reasons to hire help when you need it so you can do the things you really excel at.

Often, you can do something you're not knowledgeable about or skilled at yourself. But at what cost? There's a time trade-off. That time could have been invested in some highest and best use, yielding far more in profit than the money saved by the do-it-yourself activity you are ill-prepared for.

You can get everything done by whoever is most conveniently available, who offers the cheapest price—but at what cost? Having to micro-manage an untrustworthy provider or oversee getting something attempted three times before it's done right has a time cost and, if your time has value, is a false bargain.

Or you can seek out the best available expert, pay his price or fee, and get the best advice or service, get the task done right the first time, and be free of worry, stress or battles so you can concentrate on the highest and best use of your time.

I have long sought access and support from the best provider I could find in any and every category as a means of buying time by buying expertise and reliability, and I have always been prepared to “overpay” in order to be their client, customer, or patient. I began this practice when it was a financial hardship, and I know it was more difficult then than now, when money is no longer an issue. I also know that the habit of choosing false bargains can forever prohibit you from getting to the level of successful accomplishment where money is no longer an issue!

It may surprise you to know that there are coaches for just about everything. Highly successful people are not at all unwilling to buy coaching—in fact, they are more prone to do so, at significant fees, than the average person. Late in his life, the great golfer Arnold Palmer found his aging body required changes to his golf swing, so he hired a coach to assist him.

It's not at all uncommon for entrepreneurs to have a private coach who acts as sounding board, confidante, advisor, creative muse, quasi-therapist and accountability proctor. The money you spend for this can be a bargain because a small amount of time given to very focused discussion with an exceptionally knowledgeable coach can sharply raise the value of all your other time.

When you're going to hire an advisor, consultant coach, or other expert, it's important to accurately assess their expertise. Here are four questions to consider.

1. Has the expert actually done the thing he is advising you about? Or is he an academic theorist giving book reports? You can’t rule the latter kind of advisor out entirely. Years ago, a client of mind used a college professor with zero practical experience to develop an employee assessment that measured honesty/dishonesty, and it proved extremely accurate and also commercially valuable. But generally speaking, I want my financial advisor to be a successful investor. I don’t want a fat doctor who smokes. You can waste a lot of time on self-appointed, full of B.S. experts eager to spend somebody else’s money.

When I got serious about estate planning, I first studied up, so I could ask intelligent questions. Then I took pains to utilize a knowledgeable intermediary, from a banking relationship, to make recommendations of not one but four potential attorneys and law firms that might suit me. Then I conducted audition interviews with all four—arranged by him, each 30 minutes, back-to-back, one right after the other, at a conference room borrowed in the bank branch five minutes from my house. I looked for the best expert, and I did it with good time efficiency.

2. Is the expert current? There are a lot of “former” and “ex” folks who hang out the expert advisor shingle after exiting the game, and are soon advising from waning memory rather than practical experience.

3. Does the expert have satisfied clients? Yes, I know, even Bernie Madoff had satisfied clients. But you at least want to avoid experts without satisfied clients. A good, general, time-saving, disaster-preventing litmus test that entrepreneurs should apply to anybody they're considering relying on for advice is: Are there at least three other successful entrepreneurs who have done more than one deal with them? Are there at least three other successful entrepreneurs who have relied on them over a lengthy period of time or repeatedly?

4. Do you understand what your chosen expert is doing and how he does it? That gets us back to Bernie and how he made off with all that money from all those people who should have known better and were more victims of their own greed and willful blindness than of him. Never blindly delegate to mystics. If you can’t understand how the investment makes money, how the sales strategy works, how the expert’s advice about anything works—run.  

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