How often do you hear that if you are building a business, you should have trusted advisors to lean on to help you navigate the world of entrepreneurship?  Hopefully you’ve heard it enough to take it to heart.

Finding advisors you can trust is not only smart, but often a gift in the complex, unpredictable game of business.  However, over twenty years in the business world has taught me that finding trusted advisors is not enough.  They must be TRUSTWORTHY.  Here’s why.

First, let’s say you’re a relatively new business owner.  You’ve been running your business as a sole proprietor and things are growing pretty well.  You’ve accumulated significant profits, assets (perhaps land or a commercial building) and your wondering if you should be thinking about incorporating.  You want to do it “right”, so you decide to find an advisor who can help you discern your best next steps.

You go to your Aunt Sally who has had an accounting business for years.  She’s been doing your business accounting all along, but she’s not an expert in corporate structures or strategic growth.  You ask Aunt Sally if you should incorporate your business because she’s an accountant, after all, and of course, you trust her.  She tells you, “No, you’re fine the way you’re doing it”.  So off you go, glad that you have a member of the family that you can trust for things like that and you continue to run your business in a way that may not be in your best interests.

Here’s the problem.  Aunt Sally may be trusted.  She may even be trustworthy — she does a good job with numbers and her sphere of profession.  You trust her.  The problem is, she is not qualified to advise you on your question.  She should have said, “That’s not my area of expertise; I think you should go talk to XYZ corporate lawyer so you can make the best decision.”  Then you would go do due diligence on XYZ corporate lawyer and if they have a strong track record of positive results and/or testimonials, you would go speak with them to get your question answered.  Therefore, “trustworthy” is not just about being someone who is good at what they do or that YOU trust — it’s about qualification and experience.

Here’s the second part:  Someone who is TRUSTWORTHY would mean they have high integrity.  They are worthy of being trusted.  As one who has spent almost 20 years in the tech world, with highly sought-after products/services, I know how critical it is to have advisors that have integrity because I have dealt with far too many who have none.  They would just as easily steal your intellectual property (IP) as they would order a steak.  They come off as pillars of their community, church, industry, or the like, and underneath it all, they are cons, plain and simple – and they are good, believe me.

To summarize, when it comes to your business, your IP, your assets, and your life, make sure you choose advisors who you trust and who are trustworthy:  1) they are within the realm of experience you need, 2) are experienced, and 3) they have high integrity.  It’s up to you to learn how to do due diligence and discern who to choose.  Do not take this lightly — cons abound in this world and you will find yourself surprised at who will fall into that category.  Choose wisely.

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