Entrepreneurs get advice from a variety of people, and while some of it can lead to success if followed, other tidbits can end up leading to long-term problems and grief. A savvy business owner knows they need to pay close attention to which advice they should take to heart, and which they can safely ignore.
Sometimes, however, entrepreneurs get some really great bits of advice that they don’t follow, leading to them having to deal with delays or problems they could have avoided. Below, seven members of YEC Next discuss some of the good advice that they ignored which they later regretted, as well as what they learned from their experiences.
1. Work On Your Business, Not In It
The advice I got and ignored was, “work on your business, not in your business.” Initially, I got caught creating a job for myself instead of building a business, and the time that it took me to correct that mistake is unfortunate. My business was growing slower than I wanted and, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find any time to work on it. I read a book called The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, and knew I had to make a change. It took me a year and what I did as redefine who my target audience was and put together a team to replace myself (people that shared my values and had a similar or greater level of expertise). My business was hit hard financially during this transition year. – Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.
2. Be Patient
New business takes time to shift and form a footprint in the industry. I constantly found myself anxious about what was coming and how things weren’t turning out how I expected. I wished I would have enjoyed the journey a little more. Be patient and take steps with thoughtfulness. “Don’t rush out. Wear out”—this is a quote from a 95-year-old man that I think applies across the board. – Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
3. Let Failure Fuel Success
One piece of advice which is often hard to take to heart concerns failure, and specifically the idea that failing is necessary for success. For entrepreneurs, it can feel like there is little room for failure, because there are only so many resources on which to rely before the floor falls through. Even still, failure happens. What matters is how one reacts. Throwing everything out of the window when something doesn’t go our way puts a lot more distance between us and success than it would if we just embraced failure. What I’ve come to understand is that entrepreneurs need to be able to rely on their behavior, because they themselves are their greatest resource. We should look forward to failure, in a sense, because it provides a great opportunity to grow as people and businesspersons. – Bryan Driscoll, Think Big Marketing, LLC
4. Don’t Romanticize The Product
I have often gotten the advice to not romanticize your product. My much-needed optimism as a founder got in the way of this and the result has been lots of time and money burned beating an idea to death instead of learning how to gracefully let go and test another hypothesis. This happened to us when we were increasing prices on our social media packages over time. We did not want to undersell ourselves and thought our SMB customers would see true value in the fuzzy ROI of social media—they didn’t. They told us this both explicitly and implicitly but we had to stick to our guns, right? Well, not really. The ones who did buy into it at first churned quickly because of the massively high expectations they had both as a new SMB, but also as someone who was paying a premium on our services. – Paul Davidescu, Tangoo Real Estate & Restaurant Marketing
5. Leave Now And Pursue Your Own Thing
During my first digital marketing job, the then-COO of the company knew my ambitions of launching a content marketing company. He told me to start heavily educating myself, lose the fear and pursue my own thing—the sooner the better. Young, I didn’t know any better: I was making decent money and was fascinated with the owners’ prosperity. Basically, I was valuing short-term salary over entrepreneurism, and I feared competing with the content marketing giants. His thoughts resonated for nearly a decade until I launched my own business in 2017. The takeaway? Don’t focus on money, but rather building a sustainable business that gives back. I’m glad I still did things my way because I learned much, especially through humility. But much more was on the line, including a wife and child. – Ron Lieback, ContentMender
6. Finding Your Ideal Client Is Key
I once had a colleague explain the four types of clients: High hassle/high return, high hassle/low return, low hassle/high return, and low hassle/low return. At the end of the day, the low-hassle client wins, whether it’s a low- or high-return client. To me, it was brilliant! These were early days for my business. Having low-hassle clients really makes a world of difference. Finding your ideal client is so important for business flow, communications, team building, company culture, and really, everything. The hassles aren’t worth it. If you see the high-hassle writing on the wall in the prospect phase, run! – Angela Delmedico, Elev8 Consulting Group
7. No Money Is Better Than Bad Money
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a mentor of mine when I set out to launch my first business, that “no money is better than bad money.” More than two decades later, I can still remember that conversation. It means that as business owners, we always have a choice in whether we take on clients and their business or not. How the power of “no” is always at our disposal, but too often as an entrepreneur, you struggle with using it and feeling the need to take on bad business relationships that may not be in our best interest. Twice did I neglect to heed his advice, and twice I would not only lose business, but also strain long-time relationships, along with our team’s morale, and quite frankly, my own sanity. Don’t ever do it, no matter the cost. – Marcus Jimenez, Breefly