What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? Maybe it was when your elementary school teacher told you that “silence is golden.” Or perhaps it was the college buddy telling you to post those wild party photos to social media—“it’s not like anyone will ever check your accounts.”
Unfortunately, bad advice doesn’t stop coming when you become an entrepreneur. There will be plenty of well-intentioned people lining up to tell you absolutely incorrect things about your new business.
Let’s take a look at some prime examples of the worst startup advice:
In your early stages of entrepreneurship, this is actually solid advice. It can be advantageous to keep a foot on solid ground while trying to build your future. The issue, however: some people view the full embrace of entrepreneurship as always being too risky. In their minds, you should never step away from a sure thing.
But you aren’t wired for the safety of a corporate job. Ultimately, you’ll need to commit to your goals if you want to thrive. Let the 9-to-5ers stick to their routines—you have bigger fish to fry.
Yes, you could choose a random product and then probably sell it to at least 1 person on earth. But your business will need a customer base to succeed, not just a single customer.
Find an unmet need solved by your product or service, and a large number of people will consistently pay for it. The most successful entrepreneurs use a healthy dose of research and/or prototyping to find that perfect niche.
The business world is a never-ending stream of ups and downs. When the economy is booming, financing could be more available—but it will come at a higher price. There could also be more competitors operating in your industry.
On the flip side, in tougher economic conditions, financing can be much less expensive. But it can be harder to get a loan, and there’s a higher risk of your business not being able to pay it back. Basically, there are always risks and rewards associated with the current time—so you’ll have to heed those risks and get started.
The best way to develop a customer base is to provide a distinct product or service. If you can provide a positive experience for customers, they’ll be more likely to stay loyal in the future.
Notice that price wasn’t mentioned in the above paragraph. The way you price your product or service is obviously important—customers want value. But value doesn’t necessarily translate to “cheapest.” When you race your competitors to the bottom of the pricing barrel, you drag your business down along with it.
Building a business requires sacrifice—but your entrepreneurial success shouldn’t come at the expense of your health and relationships. Even during the tough years, as you’re laying the foundation of your business, take time out to relax and be yourself.
Burnout is a real threat for small business owners, and you don’t want to set an unsustainable precedent early on that will lead to misery.
Now that we’ve gotten the garbage out of the way, let’s end with a few nuggets of pure wisdom. Follow these tips to strengthen your business today and well into the future.
The entrepreneurial life is a high risk/high reward pursuit. But the risks are almost always temporary, while the rewards have more lasting impact.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that your first business were to fold within 6 months. There’d obviously be negatives associated with that outcome—but think about all the valuable lessons you’d have learned. It’s almost like you’ve paid tuition for a masterclass in small business ownership. You’ll then be able to move on to your next great idea with more confidence and experience.
Remember how the best way to build a customer base is providing a solution to their problems? You need to keep that solution as pure as possible, not diluted by unnecessary clutter.
The more efficient you are, the better you’ll be able to communicate your brand to customers and then meet their needs.
There’s no better way to begin funding your business idea than with your own money. Investing in yourself is a noble way to signify your commitment to your success.
At some point, though, most entrepreneurs’ startups will need outside funding. This is an exciting milestone to reach, because it means you’ve nurtured your idea and brought it to the next level. Now you can consider options such as business loans and grants. Statistically speaking, business owners who take out loans substantially boost their chances of success.
As you strive for entrepreneurial success, seek out knowledgeable people who can guide you, rather than stifle you. The best mentors have already walked this same road and can help you solve problems and avoid missteps.
Each day you spend building your business makes you stronger and wiser, putting you in a prime position to offer help to others who are just starting out.