There are a lot of people giving great business advice online. There are also a ton of people who have no business giving advice about business online. Yet sadly, these people will give that advice anyway. They don’t offer disclaimers for the most part, and you have to use your brain to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I’m not sure I’ve ever written quite so directly about this, but for posterity’s sake, here goes:
Don’t Take Business Advice From People Who Aren’t Successful In Business
Check out this guy on Reddit:
This is a good, obvious example why you should never take business advice from anyone who isn’t a businessman.
This guy has it all wrong. All wrong.
He tells you that an idea is the hardest thing about starting a business. Then he tells you that the books about the execution of said business are useless because “you can just look at examples and use logical thinking.”
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Then he goes on to say, “nobody talks about ideas, finding opportunities and whatnot.”
He’s literally posting this in Reddit’s entrepreneur section, which is filled with a bunch of not-entrepreneurs talking about the “next big thing” without doing anything.
But it doesn’t stop there.
“I don’t have 10+ years’ experience” and “domain knowledge of other industries.” We begin to see the problem. “There’s a fine line between creative and unsuccessful people like me,” and no kidding.
Then we get the mindboggling, “There’s nothing in the tech industry that hasn’t been done.”
Pack it up boys, time to stop.
I’m not trying to be cruel to this guy, whoever he is. But he’s wrong about every single thing he says.
- The idea is the easiest part of a business – even an innovative one
- Execution of a business is more complex than anyone who hasn’t done it could imagine
- There are entire industries built around “business ideas” and ideas are everywhere with everyone talking about them
- He doesn’t have much experience or novel information yet can make an informed decision about entrepreneurship?
- He thinks that everything has been done in the tech industry (?!) at the most innovative time ever
- Somehow, he’s “creative and unsuccessful” despite not being able to come up with a single business idea
But here’s the killer…
This Guy Feels Correct In Giving Business Advice Despite Not Running A Business, Never Having Had Any Ideas About It And Admitting To Not Having It In Him To Do Anything Useful
In other words… this guy is giving bad advice from a place where he has no business giving advice.
He even gives the disclaimer that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Business is one of those subjects – like fighting – where everyone thinks they have some natural gift or insight that renders the actual objective world impotent. We all know that one guy who thinks he could fight a bigger, stronger and better trained person because he “wouldn’t let himself lose, he’d win by sheer will.”
A lot of people think like that.
Many people also feel the same about business. They’ll work as a middle manager in a supermarket chain and yet can allegedly decipher what the CEO of Apple should do next.
This is not a problem – people have their beliefs and who is to say whether they’d work or not.
The trouble comes when you, a business owner or would-be business owner, take their advice.
It will derail you, deflate you and possibly destroy your finances if you listen to people who’ve got no idea what they’re doing yet give you business advice.
I remember once reading a forum thread. A guy had inherited some money and some commercial property. He wanted to buy a couple of fast food franchises.
That’s a sound investment with a lot of research, and a pretty reasonable choice to make.
Some guy marched into what was a useful thread and started going on about doing some weird adult trampolining /assault course thing. He said it would be the next big thing and that it’d be “something different with no competition.”
Then a bunch of other people started agreeing because it was a cool out-of-the-box idea.
It was out-of-the-box because it was stupid and I hope the original guy never listened to any of it.
It’s another example of why you can’t just listen to anyone about business.
Why You Should Ignore Most People’s Advice
It’s tough to run a business. There are a lot of elements to consider. Anyone who is remotely close to full time as a business owner will tell you there are an infinite amount of jobs and it never ends. You’re responsible for all of them.
There are things in any business that you simply wouldn’t think of. From shipping physical products and making sure the contents of the package don’t get damaged through to scaling a website to take millions of readers due to an unexpected viral incident… these are things that armchair business gurus don’t have a clue about.
Also, there’s a general mentality that develops when you’re self-employed or run a business. That’s because you bear the performance burden and because if something goes wrong, it’s on you. There are no opening hours and you don’t go home and forget about work until the next day. It’s difficult to switch off.
Finally, there’s the financial thing to consider. A guy who has a fixed wage and importantly doesn’t lose his income if he makes a stupid decision unsurprisingly doesn’t think in the same way as someone who can lose a lot of income from a bad decision.
I could go on, but this is turning into a bit of a rant.
Here’s The Important Bit
If you receive business advice from someone, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they know what they’re talking about?
- Have they ever put their money on the line to try out a business idea?
- Was that business idea something similar to what they’re suggesting you do?
- What happened to them if they did?
And most importantly:
- Were you going to do something similar anyway?
If you follow the answers from those questions to their logical conclusion, you’re going to find that 90% of the time, you’re going to have to smile, nod, agree…
… And then work it out for yourself, completely ignoring their advice.
But don’t worry, they probably won’t even remember the ideas they gave you in a week’s time, because ideas really are the easiest part of business and if you’ve got no investment in the outcome, ideas come and go easily.