Do you want really good business advice? Here it is: Evaluate all of it. As someone who’s starting a business, you will receive all kinds of advice, suggestions, and warnings—both solicited and unsolicited—from friends, family, and even complete strangers.
Plenty of these people wish to be helpful while others simply want to appear authoritative, hip, or knowledgeable. In any case, evaluate before you decide to act (or not act) upon any advice.
Listed here are what has to be some of the worst business advice ever given. (But, again, evaluate it for yourself).
1.“Don’t Quit Your Day Job.”
This can mean one of two things: “Your idea stinks; don’t bother,” or “Keep at it until it begins to create stable income, then you can quit your day job.”
In the first case, the only way you can tell if your business idea is any good is to:
a. Identify the target public for your product or service.
b. Survey them to see if there is a genuine and sufficient need for the product/service.
This is pretty easy to do these days. (Google “how to test your small business idea” to see for yourself.)
In the second case, if your day job keeps a roof over your head and brings food on the table while you build your own business, it might make sense to continue working. You may sacrifice quite a few nights and weekends but that might be a better way to go than not being able to eat or pay your rent while you work on your business full time.
The other side of this is “Quit Your Day Job.” Some people insist that the only way you can succeed is if you have nothing to fall back on, so quit your job right now and give your own business everything you’ve got. It might be great advice for some but might be fatal for others.
2. “Do What You Love …”
Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow is the title of a 1987 book by Marsha Sinetar. It’s unknown if everyone who has ever proffered the advice “do what you love” to an aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner actually read her book. Regardless, the indiscriminate tossing around of the title (and its variations, such as “follow your passion” and “follow your dreams”) has created some of the most misleading advice ever.
Success in business (i.e., minimally, being able to pay your basic expenses) depends on providing a product or service that a sufficient number of people want and are willing to pay for. So, it’s not merely about what you love but what your audience needs or wants.
You may love to play the piano but if you hate to perform in front of people, well … you can see the ineffectiveness of “do what you love.”
On the other hand, if you want badly enough to play the piano for a living, you would work to get over your stage shyness, wouldn’t you?
On his blog, Blog Maverick, businessman, investor, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gives the best counter to the “follow your passion” advice:
“… how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you. Let me make this as clear as possible:
a. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
b. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it.
c. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.
d. When you are good at something, passionate, and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.
“Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort,” Cuban summarized. “It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”
3. “You Won’t Make It: There’s Too Much Competition.”
At first glance, this advice seems somewhat sensible but may also be some of the hands-down stupidest advice ever given.
The ideal circumstance for any new business would be to introduce a product that becomes the first of a completely new product category, like what Xerox did in 1959 with their 914 model of a plain-paper copier (dubbed “the most successful single product of all time”).
This type of “first” is few and far in between. But the markets Xerox created had presented opportunities to other companies—Savin, Kodak, Ricoh, and others entered the plain-paper copier market and did well enough. They were the competition.
The fact of having a lot of competition, plenty of companies already selling a particular product or service, tells you that there is a strong market for that product or service. Getting a piece of that strong market is just a matter of identifying something that’s missing in current offerings—what can you do to add value for consumers of that product or service?
4. “Just Stop. Quit Now.”
The only time this “advice” might be valid is when it’s construed by the business owner based on evidence of there not being a market for his product or service. If there’s no market, there’s no business; and that should be the only reason you should ever quit.
People may advise you to quit at any time along your entrepreneurial journey. Some of these people may be successful in a certain industry or niche, but that’s no guarantee that they understand all business models or your business or ideas in particular.
Others (particularly those with conservative and conventional business ideas and experience) may even object on how you do things. They will assure you that it can’t possibly work. They don’t see that it’s what you do differently that often distinguishes you from the competition.
You may also be steered away by a few more people from pursuing your passion. Yet, as discussed earlier, if you’re putting effort behind your passion, then you stand a better chance than someone who’s merely dreaming. Let their “advice” roll off your back.
There’s plenty of advice out there. Some of it may be right for some people, while some could be wrong for others. None of it has any value to you until you’ve evaluated it based on who is saying it, what their qualifications are, and what success they have had. You’ve also got to think in terms of what you know, what you’ve experienced, and what you’re trying to achieve.
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