John Belchamber
John Belchamber Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

Where have all the experts gone?

As a small business owner I'm constantly bombarded by people wanting to help me grow my business. Yesterday I found my self asking...

"where have all the perts gone,

everyone seems to be an expert these days"

My question is, what criteria do you use to decide if someone wanting to sell you business advice is in fact an expert in their field?

P.S. I suspect many perts have become gurus ;)

Top voted answer
Brian Le Mon

Brian Le Mon, Principal at

Top 10% Startup

Hi John,


Typically I recommend to my clients / potential clients to sit down face to face and discuss the situation and to see first hand that I know what I am talking about and have the experience to be able to deliver on what they require.

Face to face meetings may not always be practical especially if they are from different cities / countries although you may be able to get a feeling for their level of expertise from a videoconference.

The basic idea is to remove the expert from the environment where they can potentially be prompted (or use Google etc..) to deliver answers to your questions and put them where they need to think on the spot. Most self-proclaimed experts will struggle for answers without their office cues or time to research the perfect answer so in a face to face meeting you can typically see if their "expertise" stems from actual experience or from reading books, blogs or Wikipedia.





Brian Le Mon MPH, BSc

Principal Consultant




John Belchamber

John Belchamber, Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

Thank you Brian, face to face isn;t always possible, but with Skype adn many others offering free video calls these days, it is easier to at least see the person adn gauge from visual as well as verbal clues. As Wendy points out below, getting exmaples of how someone implemented a project and speaking to their clients (ensuring that they are actual clients) is useful. That said, it is amazing how many clients ask me for referees but then never actually follow up with them.

Steve Gray

Steve Gray, Director at Gray Capital Investments

Top 10% Marketing

Good question, I have seem a number of MBA graduates saying they can assist a person in business, I say yep go ahead, but have they got the sense to know when a person in let's say a small family business has not got the cash to pay a consultant, and feels embarrassed to admit it. Short answer maybe... it takes a while to learn how to 'read people' and how to ensure the services a professional says they can provide actually matches the words.

A small business I know has been (somehow) ripe for the picking with new consultants saying they can help, they now ask just one question after the initial 'pitch' "Can you tell us why prospective customers readily go to our competition down the street and buy, and why we have not even half the prospects they do and they spend less to attract new customers? And why those that come here tell us our service is ten times better...?" they send the consultant away with a promise, "If you can clearly answer that question for us, we will hire you..." not one has returned the the past three years. :) amusing.

Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Top 10% Marketing

I believe that there are more "perts" these days because information is way more accessible and it's very easy to learn enough to be considered a "pert" by traditional standards. I could easily become a "pert" of anything given enough time and  Google and just going through tutorials and applying it (however there are many professions which cannot be learnt this way but there are more and more resources each day) 

If memorised well enough, this knowledge can be regurgitated in a face to face meeting easily. I guess the real test is to ask for a portfolio, testimonials or examples of recent projects.

Results define a true "pert" :D

John Belchamber

John Belchamber, Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

You make some great points, thank you Wendy. We are all able to easily consume informaton these days, but that's not the same as producing something with it. Learning some information and repeating it confidently doesn't make you good at implementing it - just look at our politicians :)