The Best Business Advice to Ignore – from AmEx OPEN forum

Run, don’t walk, away from these all-too-common words of advice.

Small-business owners get unsolicited advice everyday. Some of it can be very helpful, some of it is better off ignored. If you hear any of the “words of wisdom” listed below, our advice to you is to smile, say thank you, and move on.

Good things come to those who wait.
If you follow this advice, you may be waiting a very long time for success.
Better advice: Small-business owners need to be aggressive and go out and grab opportunities as they happen. You are responsible for initiating your success.

Failure is not an option.
Unfortunately, it is the most likely outcome in any small business venture.
Better advice: Accept failure, learn what you can, let go of it, and look for another opportunity to succeed.

Do what you love and the money will follow.
In the ideal world, this would always be true.
Better advice: The money will follow if you find something you are passionate about and you’re selling a product or service your customers need or want.

The customer is always right.
If the customer was always right then it would be too expensive for any company to stay in business.
Better advice: Listen to the customer’s concerns and show empathy in proposing solutions to their problems.

Think outside the box.
Sometimes ideas so far outside the box will make a small-business owner go broke because customers won’t pay for it.
Better advice: Look inside the box for constant problems customers still pay to solve.

Never give up.
This hard fast rule can lead to bankruptcy. Don’t go down with the ship!
Better advice: Follow Kenny Rogers’ advice and “know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”.  Successful entrepreneurs know when it’s time to close down their business and look for a new start.

If you are not hiring, you are not growing.
Successful businesses are not measured in the number of employees, but in the profit (cash flow) they generate for their owners.
Better advice: Get the right resources (employees, freelancers, vendors) to get the job done most effectively.

Separate out your business and personal life.
In the world of the Internet-enabled smartphone, it is nearly impossible to separate these two worlds. Better advice: Merge your business and personal aspects into one happy life. But establish business free zones (like the gym, dinner table, bedroom or vacation) so you are able to recharge.

Never leave money on the table. This strategy is greedy and shows short term thinking. It can also blind the small-business owner to additional objectives, or big-picture thinking and planning.
Better advice: Emphasize long term relationships so annuities with vendors and customers can be built to maximize their lifetime value.

Always be innovating.
While it is important to evolve and change with the market, innovation should not be done for its own sake.
Better advice: Consistently ask customers and survey competitors on new ways to solve problems.

If you want it done right, do it yourself.
If you follow this strategy, you will always be working. You will have built a job, but not a company.
Better advice: Find leverage in your business by training employees to do tasks that will leverage your time. Later, bring in a team that is better at these tasks than you are.

If you build a great product (or service), customers will come.
While this may work in the movies, it never is effective in business. If your product can’t get found, it will never be chosen.
Better advice:  Set up a consistent system of sales and marketing so customers can find your product when they are looking.

Business is about taking big risks.
This is a surefire way to go out of business and never have the financial resources to recover.
Better advice: Take small risks and analyze the results. Business is ultimately a series of small decisions and incremental steps.

Don’t quit your day job.
Many entrepreneurs are told to keep their start up as a hobby and don’t risk doing it full time.
Better advice: When you have enough customers to support your minimum overhead, jump to doing the business on an exclusive basis. Only with complete focus will you be able to grow the business to its full potential.

Everything is fair in business.
You will be surprised what people have the audacity to do in business, and no not everything is “fair” in business, and what may be considered “fair”, it isn’t always right.
Better advice: Think about the code of conduct with which you want to conduct your business. Train your staff to stick to it.

You can’t change the world.
You are told you will never have enough resources to really make a difference.
Better advice: You actually can change the world. As a small-business owner, focus on doing it one customer at a time.

You must first write a detailed business plan.
Business plans are totally overrated. They typically are a series of assumptions that never come true.
Better advice: After writing the initial business plan, get customers to validate assumptions or help morph to a more profitable path.

Business is about having a great idea.
Many entrepreneurs think they have to protect their innovative idea or sometimes even want to sell it.
Better advice: Business ideas are meaningless if you can’t back it up. Success is really about taking action and finding the right team to work with to build a company.

Quit while you are ahead.
This is a fearful and fatalistic approach to business.
Better advice: Find out how you can build on the success that you have already achieved that can minimize some of your risks going forward. If you feel comfortable, take some money out of the business as financial insurance.

You have to spend money to make money.
Many vendors say you have to invest a lot of money to build a business.
Better advice: Having too much money will make you frivolous with it. Most businesses are started with less than $10,000. As a small-business owner, it’s your money so be cheap. Only spend money on things that are testable, trackable and repeatable.

Read more articles on leadership.

The Best Business Advice to Ignore.

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