Blog | Entrepreneurship

Hey, Entrepreneurs, Take Advice but Think For Yourself!

Everyone has advice for those ready to jump into a new business. But what advice do you take? How do you know who to listen to? How do you know what is good advice or bad advice?

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When you decide to start a new business, everyone from your spouse, your mother, your friends, even your mailman, has an opinion. If you bring up your new entrepreneurial pursuits at dinner you will get a flood of advice about what you should or shouldn’t do. Don’t get me started about what happens when you turn to Google for help.

Some of this advice will be helpful and some will not. But no matter what, I guarantee you that you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of opinions you get. It’s your job to sort out the good advice from the bad, a task that is more difficult than it seems.

Good advice can come from surprising places. The same is true about bad advice. A seasoned real estate expert might give you bad advice while your gym trainer, who has a history of successfully flipping houses, might give you a nugget of wisdom that changes your perspective.

In addition, advice that’s bad for you might be immensely helpful to someone else. So, as you start down your new path as an entrepreneur, the first lesson is learning how to decide which advice you’ll listen to.

Think for yourself!

Question everything you hear, read, and watch from the various financial experts in the media today. That includes me. So often the advice being touted may sound sensible, but when you dig deeper, is their recommendation really going to get you to your goals?

For example, the advice of “live below your means.” It seems to make sense. Most people translate that to mean, spend less than you make. For a woman who is a chronic over-spender, that might be good advice, but for a woman who is seeking financial freedom, that advice could work against you and keep you poor.

Instead of ‘live below your means’, why not expand your means? Instead of figuring out how to cut $100 from your expenses, why not task yourself to turn that $100 into $200. Instead of cutting you expenses, why not increase your income. Turning $100 into $200 takes thinking, creativity and above all, action.

That is why the Rich Woman message is not for every woman and why the advice of live below your means, cut up your credit cards and stop drinking mocha lattes is advice that does not resonate with those in the Rich Woman community.

Think for yourself, question all advice and be cognizant of allowing new information into your mind that truly supports and is aligned to you achieving your financial goals.

Beware who you take advice from

When someone you admire recommends a simple “easy button” product to improve your credit via a special debit card, a friend promises you that her financial planner can take care of your retirement needs, or your favorite celebrity touts a must-have product or service, it can be very enticing to hand your money over and lose control of your finances. First, above all, think for yourself. Question everything.

One important question to ask is, “What’s in it for the person doing the recommending?” Others are: “Does he or she have an agenda?” Do they get a commission, a percentage of the sale or other forms of payment for this “advice?” Do they really have your best interest at heart, or are they just trying to make more money for themselves and their sponsors?

I have no problem with someone making money from products or services. I do have a problem if their driving intent is to make a buck versus giving you sound information based upon your particular wants.

Not to pick on celebrity debit cards, although I don’t think it’s a good fit for most of the women in the Rich Woman community, a recent article in Forbes by Tim Chen, stated that “celebrity prepaid debit cards are both hilarious and horrifying…Horrifying because they prey on the poor and financially illiterate.” You see, the problem isn’t the debit card or the credit card. The problem is educating people so that they don’t keep repeating the habits that keep them poor.

Question the source of the advice and question the motive behind it. Do a little homework, get a bit smarter and then take the action that suits you best.

How do you tell the good from the bad?

When trying to determine if the advice you’re receiving is good or bad, it’s best to start by looking at who is giving you the advice and what their purpose is for giving it to you.

  • Who: Does this person have experience doing what you want to do? Do they know what they’re talking about? Do their actions match their words? Just because your Uncle Bob talks a big game, doesn’t mean he has the expertise to back it up. But your neighbor who you never knew ran a successful Amazon store, might be a great person to listen to.
  • Why: Of course, experience is not the only thing you need to consider when vetting your sources. Looking at the person’s intentions is also helpful. They might have many reasons for giving you advice. Maybe they’re looking to intimidate you or impress you with their confidence. More often than not, they are trying to sell you something. Either way, not everyone has your best interests at heart when they offer advice.

When you listen to advice, make sure the person giving it genuinely cares for you and your success. Their ego or wallet should not come into play at all, rather they should be motivated by a desire to see you succeed.

4 common pieces of bad business advice

Now, let’s explore some of the most common bad advice entrepreneurs get when they’re first starting out. Be very wary of anyone offering you the following “pearls of wisdom.”

“Don’t do it.”

The most common form of advice is to simply not do it. Everyone will have this advice in the beginning, particularly if it’s your first business or if you’re leaving your “steady paycheck” job to pursue it. This advice comes in all shapes and forms. They will tell you horror stories of people who tried and failed to start businesses. They will remind you of the many reasons you should stay in your “safe” job and not risk your money and time.

If you’ve been following Rich Dad’s philosophies, you know that jobs provide a false sense of security. You don’t control any aspect of your employment, which means your steady paycheck could disappear tomorrow should you get fired or laid off.

Even seasoned entrepreneurs still get this advice. Robert and I often hear people telling us not to take risks, expand into new investments, or grow certain parts of our company. But we’ve learned over time to tune them out and do what we feel is right. Unless your business involves jumping out of a plane without a parachute, don’t listen to this advice.

Don’t let other people’s insecurities and doubts hold you back from changing your life for the better.

“Be like this business/person.”

Everyone is going to want to compare your business to another. Even you might fall into that trap when describing your new venture. Comparisons can be useful, as long as they don’t hold you back from building a business that works for you. Your business should be unique to your values, goals, and priorities.

There are some great business models out there that can be starting points when you’re outlining your structure. But there’s a fine line between not wasting time reinventing the wheel and copying another company’s business plan exactly.

Use your creativity and build a business that’s yours, and no one else’s. And when people try to tell you to do things like someone else, remind them that you are your own person.

"Go back to school first."

Oh yes, this was Robert’s poor dad’s favorite piece of advice. His father was an educator, and he believed that Robert should go back to school, get his MBA, and maybe even his PhD. A lot of people will tell you that you should get your MBA before starting a business.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with going back to school. A lot of people find value in getting another degree. But let’s be clear: You don’t need an MBA or a college degree to start a business. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time were college, even high school dropouts — feel free to rattle off the names of these 50 extremely successful people who never finished school to prove your point to whomever is giving you this advice.

Now, I’m not advocating that you follow their example (again, you are your own person). But don’t listen to the advice that you have to go back to school or get this or that degree before you can start a successful business. It’s simply not true.

“A real business needs ______.”

Fill in the blank line with any number of nouns: “people” or “office space” or “business cards” or “investors” — you get the idea. People will tell you all the things you “need” to start a business. But for most entrepreneurs, all they truly require is an idea and a computer.

Remember, we live in an age of information, where resources and talent are available at the touch of a button. You don’t have to hire a full team of people to run a real business. Some of the most successful startups today began by outsourcing a lot of their work to freelancers, contractors, and virtual assistants.

You can get the help you need for a fraction of the price. Not to mention the technology available that can automate a lot of your tasks. You don’t even need office space anymore. You can work from your kitchen, from Starbucks, or even the public library. Anywhere you have an Internet connection.

People often get overwhelmed when starting a business, thinking they need all the things we usually associate with companies: big mahogany desks, a fancy business card, a flashy website. Maybe you’ll want those things or maybe not, but the point is that businesses are more versatile and flexible than ever. You can build a business the way you want.

When you are faced with important decisions, don’t let an emotional reaction make the choice for you. Because when emotion goes up, intelligence goes down. Times of emotional stress are not good times to make decisions. You don’t have to disregard your emotions entirely, just make sure you have considered all the angles and consequences first. Look at the facts and be honest with yourself about what you really want and what you are willing to do to get it.

The only advice for an entrepreneur that matters

There is so much advice out there when you’re starting your business. This can be comforting and provide you with great ideas and direction. It can also be overwhelming because many times the advice you receive contradicts itself. And when it’s coming from an influential and even well-meaning source — like a spouse, parent, or boss — it can be very hard to ignore.

That’s why, at the end of the day, the only person you really need to listen to is yourself. Listen to advice, collect opinions, thank people for their words, and then do what you want to do. That’s how successful entrepreneurs are made.

If you’re feeling inspired, don’t miss these 5 side hustle ideas to try before you quit your job— once you start reaping the rewards of a side hustle, you’re sure to crave more.

Original publish date: April 06, 2017

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