Business Consultant /Franchise Owner of Sylvan Learning Center of Murrieta, CA.
Each year, millions of new businesses are launched all over the world. These companies have created their foundation based on research and startup advice from books, magazines, consultants and pretty much any other resources they can find. Although the majority of the advice helps in ultimately developing the business, I believe that sometimes it can do more harm than good.
When starting a new business, it is not uncommon to get a lot of opinions from people, and these opinions can be mistaken for advice in practice. When starting your business, realize that although your business may be similar to that of others, it will ultimately be different in management, style of decision making and setbacks.
It is not wise to follow every piece of advice in the book or from everyone willing to give them. Entrepreneurship is war, and one thing is for sure: You need to stop taking suggestions from fake gurus that have never been to battle. These gurus can be family members, a complete stranger or even a professional in your field. Although they share their opinions with the best of intentions, it tends to be a misdirection. Here are three reasons why taking advice from anyone and everyone can hurt your business.
1. It can redirect the vision for your business.
No two businesses have the same models or vision, no matter how similar they are. You have to realize that your business is tailored to your vision and passion, so taking advice from outsiders could distort your business. It can be more effective if, instead of listening to every tip and trying to incorporate numerous ideas from other people, most of your energy is directed toward solving already existing problems.
2. Success isn’t easily transferrable.
Just because someone tried something in their business that worked, it does not mean the same thing will work for your business. Also, if someone tries something and becomes successful at it, that doesn’t automatically make them the expert on the subject. So, cutting corners by applying other people’s approaches may just be a recipe for disaster.
3. It can lead to second-guessing.
Taking advice from just any source can overwhelm and make you start to question your own chosen path. The best things in life are free, but listening to that free advice can create doubt. You need to know how to filter the advice coming your way because, like it or not, you will get it. When the suggestions come, filter out the bad and retain the good. Here’s how:
• Examine carefully the perspective of the advisor. People have different expectations from their business, and therefore, perspectives are different. Make sure the perspective of the advisor and yours align. For example, some advice you receive may be based on quick growth and then the sale of your company, while others may be rooted in slow and steady growth for a sustainable and lasting business.
• Consider the relevance of the advice to your business. They say experience is the best teacher, which is why many people advise that you consult people who have walked the path before you. However, you have to figure out if the experience of the advisor is relevant to your situation before taking action. For example, a person who was able to raise venture capital and had sufficient cash flow right from the beginning of their business might tell you to start your business with as many staff as possible to reduce burnout and increase efficiency. If you have the funds and you need the manpower, this seems like a good idea. However, this will not be applicable to you if you need little manpower or especially if you don’t have the funds.
• Consider your biases against the advice. It is human nature to take advice that validates our beliefs and discard those that do not. Of course, that’s not always a bad thing, but you also want to make sure that you are not discarding good advice in the process. It’s important to recognize your biases and try to strip them away.
• Compare one person’s advice with others’. When starting a business, you will get a lot of input. Before you jump into action, try to compare the advice to other people’s and see how it fares. It’s just like getting a second opinion from another doctor. It’s not a bad thing to ask someone else about it as well.
• What happens if they’re wrong? Ask yourself what your business stands to lose if the advice is wrong. It’s your business and your decision, so make sure you are ready to live with the consequences. You have to be ready to take full responsibility for the decisions you make.
At the end of the day, all the decisions and consequences of those decisions lie with you. Many people will have opinions about how to run your business, and these are mostly as a way to help you succeed. But just because the intention is good doesn’t mean it is good advice. It may even be good advice but not relate to your business. You need to be assertive and conscious in order to listen to the suggestions that are good and filter out the rest.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?