The business world is filled with suggestions and business advice – both solicited and unsolicited – from well-wishing friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers. This is especially so when you’re starting a business. And while all (okay, most) of it is meant with the best of intentions, a lot of the advice you hear can be … unhelpful at best, and detrimental to your company in a worst case scenario.
The problem is with trying to decide what business advice to ignore and what business advice to adhere to.
Business Advice You Need To Think Twice of Listening To
Here are 4 vital points to keep in mind whenever you’re seeking or receiving business advice:
1. Embrace Your Passion
If you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, then don’t let anyone pull you away from your dream. You’ll come across people who are “looking out for your best interest” when they tell you that you’re way too qualified to be chasing some pipe dream. And while they mean well, the problem here is that so many people equate job security with success. The bigger the steady paycheck, the more successful the employee.
Oftentimes, these well-wishers are family members who just don’t want to see you struggle. The problem with this “advice” is that it’s based on emotion rather than logic. And it can be easy to give in to this advice when things are getting tough. But if you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, then ignore this advice and keep moving forward.
2. Avoid Decisions Based on Financial Need
Yes, starting a business is tough. It’s tough on your psyche, and especially on your bank account. History is filled with stories of crazy actions and decisions based on financial need. FedEx founder Fred Smith famously gambled his company’s last $5,000 in Las Vegas to pay fuel costs so the company could operate another week. That worked out for him, but his partners were livid.
Not all entrepreneurs are so fortunate. Roy Raymond, the original founder of Victoria’s Secret, sold the chain for $1 million in 1982 because the brand was near bankruptcy. Fast forward to 1993, when Victoria’s Secret was making billions annually and Raymond jumped off the Golden Gate bridge.
It’s a heartbreaking tale and an extreme lesson. Making decisions based off of financial need can cause your business to miss out on much more money down the road, and take control of the business away from you and put it into the hands of investors, who may have a different vision of your dream.
3. Due Diligence is Key
Everyone can be dazzled by confidence. And in the startup world, that’s more relevant than so many other industries as young entrepreneurs are actively seeking mentors and guidance. Someone adamantly believing – and presenting a strong argument for – their own point of view can be hypnotic and mesmerizing. It’s easy to be swayed by someone like this, who then claims they know what’s best for you and your business.
And while everyone is worth listening to, take all advice with a grain of salt until you know someone’s background, experience, and track record of success. Revamping your business plan based on the very confident suggestions of a first-year college student on his first, failing startup may seem like a good idea if you don’t know the charismatic entrepreneur’s background. So keep an open ear, take a business card, and decide for yourself whether or not the advice has merit.
4. Take Off Your Blinders
When we have a great idea, we look for everything we can to prove to ourselves we’re right. The problem here is that we start seeing only the feedback we are hoping for. If everyone you talk to is only focusing on the pros of your idea, then you may need to ignore that advice.
Seek out people who can and will tear your idea to shreds so you can rebuild it better than before. Look for successful entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and industries. Get feedback from individuals with a focus on operations. Or user experience. Or finance. Talk to entrepreneurs in the digital world. Consult with physical world business owners.
While we all want our ideas to succeed, we can fall into a trap of wearing blinders and only seeing the good in our vision. But to achieve that good, you must remove your blinders and actively seek out the flaws in your plan.
If you can remember these four principles when you’re receiving business advice, you’ll have a much easier time of figuring out which advice to take and which advice to ignore when starting a business. If you find a source of constant, amazing advice, look to make that person a personal mentor. While advice is everywhere, good advice is priceless!
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