Most entrepreneurs will seek out information and guidance on some level throughout their careers, and that’s a good thing. Smart people ask for help. By now, you’ve probably noticed there’s no shortage of advice flying around at any given moment. From the internet, from colleagues, from family members – some solicited, and some definitely not. As business consultants, the PBCi Team doles out our fair share of professional recommendations each day as well. We’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend, however, of vague, seemingly harmless (yet potentially destructive) advice being dished out to small business owners. Here are the Top 5 in our list of Advice that Confuses the @#$! Out of Entrepreneurs:
• NOT-SO-GOOD ADVICE #1: ACT NOW. “New ideas are just a wish if you do not act on them now. It is easy to put things off, continuing to believe you will do them later but doing is just that — action. Tell yourself all throughout the day, “act now, act now, act now.” Every later is a dream killer. Every later becomes one of the countless obstacles you place between yourself and your success. Rid yourself of these needlessly self-imposed road blocks.”
So we get the general idea this person is going for, which is a “sooner rather than later” adage. Realistically, though, you can’t always “act now”, nor would it be prudent 100% of the time.
• BETTER ADVICE: Decide what needs to be done, create a plan, and ACT. Depending on the situation, that plan may take 5 minutes or 5 weeks. But once the plan exists, start moving on it. Create smart, actionable step (or leap) goals. Don’t sit on it. Make it happen.
• NOT-SO-GOOD ADVICE #2: TAKE RISKS. “Have faith in yourself. The worst thing that can happen from a risk gone wrong is you learn to go in a new direction.”
Actually, no. That’s not the worst thing that can happen. Your business just happens to be connected to your life, remember? It’s called “risk” for a reason. It can’t always be taken lightly, and self-confidence (while important) shouldn’t be the sole determining factor.
• BETTER ADVICE: Take calculated risks. Some calculations have to be made quickly, in order to not miss out on opportunity. Some risks will truly outweigh others, in strategy and in impact – and therefore require more consideration. Sometimes the adage “Go big or go home” really does apply. You can’t completely avoid taking chances; the odds of you successfully reaching your goals without any of those butterfly-in-your-stomach-inducing moments is pretty slim. However, you owe it to yourself and your business to learn to effectively manage and navigate the factors of risk versus reward.
• NOT-SO-GOOD ADVICE #3: SACRIFICE EVERYTHING. “Work like hell. Do whatever you need to do to get to where you want to go. To grow yourself you have to make the necessary sacrifices to do that. Stay up an hour later and read, give up your lunch hour to research, put in extra time on weekends. Work like hell. If you don’t, prepare to give up on your dreams and any hope of reaching your potential.”
Let’s put this one bluntly: DON’T do this. Yes, you will work like hell. But there is a such thing as balance, and your goals should include maintaining some semblance of it. Constantly and consistently foregoing meals (aka nourishment), rest, and time with loved ones is not the way to go.
• BETTER ADVICE: Be prepared to sacrifice time and energy. You will most likely have to alter your routine or lifestyle, and obliterate your comfort zone to reach your ultimate aspirations. However, one the thing you cannot sacrifice is yourself. Your health, peace of mind,, and relationships should NOT be on the alter. Work diligently on managing your priorities and time to get the most accomplished each day. Build a support network, including a quality Business Consultant and mentor(s). Find creative ways to give your all to your business without losing your life to your business.
• NOT-SO-GOOD ADVICE #4: YOU DON’T NEED BUSINESS CARDS. “The practice of exchanging business cards is outdated, They all end up in the trash anyway, so don’t waste your money. When you meet an important contact, capture their information in your phone right then, at that moment. This way, you can connect with them on social media and email without relying on a piece of paper.”
True story: I met a young lady at a networking event whom I thought may be a good resource for my clients, and wanted to connect after the event. I asked her for her card, and she replied (with lots of attitude), “I don’t DO business cards. I prefer to connect on social media”, and she looked at me like some relic from the dark ages. The next morning, as I was following up on all the contacts I’d made at the event, I couldn’t remember her name – and I still don’t.
• BETTER ADVICE: Have business cards ready, but use them mindfully and strategically. Connecting online via social media or other channels is a very important mechanism for building business relationships. There will most likely be lots of times when it’s appropriate to whip out your phone to capture a connection’s information or find them on social media right then. However, there are still LOTS of people who may ask you for your business card, and you want to have one if they ask. With that being said, treat your card like the valuable real estate that it is. Don’t walk into an event randomly handing out your business cards to everyone. Offer your card when asked, or if the conversation has reached the point where making a connection is the next natural step. Use your business card as the punctuation to a connection you’ve already started building – not as an introduction.
• NOT-SO-GOOD ADVICE #5: IF YOU DON’T SPEND X DOLLARS ON X THING, YOU’RE NOT A SERIOUS BUSINESS OWNER. “If you don’t have a monthly marketing budget that’s at least in the 4-digits, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.”
It’s time for bluntness again: Please ignore statements and advice this obnoxious. YOU run your business, hopefully based on a business plan catered to YOUR business. Your individual operations, marketing strategy, projects – and everything else – are unique to your business, and should not be compared to anyone else’s (or used as some quasi-gauge of your success).
• BETTER ADVICE: Create a realistic Operation Strategy that is in harmony with your Marketing Strategy & Plan. In other words, make sure that your budgets and related activities support one another in a way that optimizes your resources. Plan carefully and try to make allowances for the unexpected. Whether your monthly budget is $500 or $50,000, ensure that you’re analyzing your spending habits and ROI, and making adjustments accordingly.
Need help with your Operations or Marketing? PBCi is here to provide guidance and resources to help keep your business at its best. Request your Free Consultation today.