Successful Entrepreneurs on the Worst Advice They’ve Ever Received
If you are an entrepreneur, then you are always going to be given advice on how to run and ramp up your business—whether it’s from friends, family, or your mentors. While a lot of new entrepreneurs will welcome the advice, it’s critical that you are careful about what advice you absorb and what you choose to ignore.
Most veteran entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s important to use the resources and advice that are available to you, but it’s also important to make a name for yourself using your own ideas and strategies.
During a recent discussion with six successful entrepreneurs, we found out some of the worst advice they have ever received.
Arlene Battishill, Founder and CEO of GoGo Gear
Several years ago, Arlene was featured on an episode of “Shark Tank“. Her company, GoGo Gear, which has a line of highly fashionable protective gear for motorcycle and scooter riders, was attempting to raise capital to expand into the UK and European market. The “Shark Tank” panel was very adamant that this would be a bad move for the company and that they should focus on the United States.
“People may be smart, but the reality is, you know your business and market better than anyone else, even billionaires like on ‘Shark Tank’. You have to trust what you know and about what you’re doing,” says Battishill.
Since they decided to ignore the advice from “Shark Tank”, their company’s sales have exploded in Europe, while they have not had much success with traction in the United States.
John Lincoln, Founder and CEO of Ignite Visibility
John has started numerous businesses, and the worst advice that he ever received was to go into business by himself. A lot of entrepreneurs think of this as a major mistake for any startup because you need to have partners. Running a company is such hard work. Having, at least, one other person who is as invested as you are makes a major difference. Most venture capitalists are now making this a requirement in today’s funding world.
“My advice to others would be to get one or more person to go into business with you,” says Lincoln. “Make sure you get along, make sure they are honest and make sure they are skilled. As long as those things are true, you will be incredibly happy you did it. Also, try to find someone who has strengths that compliment your weaknesses.”
Shawn Fludd, Founder of Boo & Bear Children’s Boutique
When Shawn first started his business, he remembers being told by multiple people that it was a smart idea to network and talk to as many people about the business as he could. He quickly found out that this was terrible advice because the people he met were uninterested after that first interaction.
“When I began talking less about my business and asking them more about themselves and showed an interest in wanting to build a relationship, everything went totally different,” Fludd mentioned. “We picked up new customers, and have built some great relationships.”
Samad Nasserian, Founder and CEO of Cozymeal
The worst advice Samad ever received, as an entrepreneur, was not to think about profitability. He was encouraged to focus instead on the growth of the business and figure out profitability later. It’s common for companies in Silicon Valley only to focus on growth, instead of building a business that is sustainable. However, think of profitability later and it might be too late.
“I never followed this advice because I believe entrepreneurs should focus on sustainable growth and work on the right initiatives rather than efforts that will never lead to profitability,” Nasserian says.
Alexia Bregman, Co-Founder of Vuka Natural Energy Drinks
Alexia, who founded one of the industry leaders of natural energy drinks, was once told that it was important to mirror what other successful companies have done in the past. Instead, Alexia opted to be her own brand and not just a copycat.
“We hired several people who had worked at other energy drink companies, and they always wanted us to do what those companies had done,” says Bregman. “Not necessarily the best advice because it stifles your ability to build your own brand.”
Joshua Dziabiak, Founder of The Zebra.com
Joshua is a serial entrepreneur and has received lots of less than stellar advice since he started his first company at age 14. He was once told that it was important to have a detailed and complex business plan before you go to market or looking to raise capital. Not true, in Josh’s case.
“What I’ve learned is that your early plans are often very wrong. It’s more important to understand and establish the fundamentals, like your vision, differentiation, and initial model and capital needs,” says Dziabiak. “A 30-page business plan doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than a two- or three-page business plan. Spend more time on prototyping or case studies than going too far or specific with the written plan itself,” adds Dziabiak.
The Bottom Line
No matter if you are launching your first business or getting your fourth one off the ground, people will be quick to offer various advice on running a business. It’s important to weed out the bad advice. These are just a few examples of the bad advice that is out there. In all these instances it benefited these entrepreneurs to ignore what they were told.