Is Bad Advice Putting You at Risk?


Is Bad Advice Putting You at Risk?

Have you ever taken your health concerns to Dr Google?

Or am I the only one to convince themselves that their headache is, in fact, a rare tropical disease? Are you a fan of shortcuts, freebies and DIY, even if the end result is a bit rough around the edges? Or do you call in the experts every chance you can?

You see, I’m all for learning as much as possible online, and saving money where I can, but when push comes to shove, I wouldn’t look for a neurosurgeon on Fiverr or ask Uncle Dave with his you-beaut pliers to perform a tooth extraction. When it comes to important matters, we talk to professionals. We may struggle with the cost involved, but none of us wants a novice poking around in our brain or other valued regions.

When it comes to business, we might start the same way and look for advice where it’s most convenient. The problem with this approach is that taking our business concerns to the wrong place, can also cause avoidable pain and jeopardise the health of our business.

Have you ever been given a link to a ‘free template’ only to discover it applies to the wrong industry? Or have you ever found a solution in an online forum, only to find it doesn’t apply in your state? Have you ever taken someone’s advice and wasted time and money on the wrong things?

Despite the wealth of information available to us, getting reliable advice is not always easy. And If you’re fortunate enough not to lose money in the process, it will most certainly cost you time. As Small Business owners, time is one of our most valued resources, so these are a few things to keep in mind if you need to ask for advice.

Family and friends.

We can learn a lot from our closest contacts, and many of their experiences will give us fair warning and put us on the right track. But even well-meaning advice can be incorrect, so use it as a guide and always confirm it from a reliable source.

Business groups.

Reaching out through social media is a great way to get an instant response to your problems, provided the information is right. I often cringe when I see a post seeking legal advice, and well-meaning group members responding with answers that are just wrong. Always qualify the answers you receive by looking closely at who’s posting it. Better still, ask specifically for advice from the source you need by starting your post with “Do we have any accountants in the group who can help me?”


Sadly, there are some dusty professionals out there who give the rest of us a bad name. Like any industry, there are good and bad operators, and you’ll need to shop around to find one with the right skills to suit your requirements. Once you find the right qualified professional, tap into their knowledge-bank that extends beyond the parameters of the question you’re asking. They’ll know what additional information they need from you (all the things you’d never put in a post) to give you advice that is right for your circumstances.

A word of warning.

Another one? Yes, another one. If you love giving business advice, make sure it’s within your area of expertise. If you’re a business coach, for example, be very careful you’re not tempted to stray into the realm of legal or financial advice. There’s a reason lawyers and accountants study long and hard to be accredited, and it’s not, so they have something to hang on the wall. It’s because these are complex areas of knowledge, and advice can change on the basis of one small fact.

Professional Indemnity Insurance won’t cover you for advice you aren’t qualified to give. So, draw a line in the sand of expertise and don’t cross it or you could find yourself on the pointy end of a lawsuit.

Being helpful is an admirable trait, but not if it causes more harm in the long run. Whether you’re seeking advice or providing it, think carefully about the ramifications and act wisely.

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