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For years I’ve loved listening to Car Talk on NPR, even now when it’s in a “best of” mode given one of the brothers died. While traveling this summer we had it on and during one call it hit me. The callers want a solution but very often don’t give the experts full information.

There are a lot of calls where near the end, i.e. solution time, one of the experts will ask something like, “By any chance was there a clanking noise from the rear of the car when the problem was occurring?” Ninety percent of the time, or more, the answer is, “Yes.” Now it’s time for the real, and accurate, answer.

Just like in my business, and I’m sure yours. Customers, employees, and others want an answer but they only give you partial information. I recently gave a client some advice, he said he wasn’t sure it would work, I asked why, and he then gave me the complete story of what was happening.

In the buy-sell world this can be dangerous, and get someone in legal trouble. When buying or selling a business a common term used is, “Open kimono.” It means we are baring all by giving the other side 100% of the information they need. If you don’t disclose everything you’ll not only pay the price (pun intended) but you’ll pay the attorneys and others.

The real problem is too many people want to appear to be intelligent so they start giving solutions based on limited information. It’s like if I give someone a stock answer on how to grow their business or if I tell someone what their business might be worth without knowing if they have 80% of their sales to three customers or spread out over 300 customers.

“I never knew anything about cars before I started listening to your show. I still don’t know anything about cars but now I don’t care.” Car Talk listener

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