As an entrepreneur, sometimes you want advice. Sometimes you need a sounding board. It is, indeed, a lonely place, but good business advice is hard to come by.
Advisors come in many shapes and sizes, from coaches, consultants, and mentors. Many people don’t know the difference, which sadly includes many people with those job descriptions. Coaches, for example, by definition, should not give business advice. It is not what they are trained for (assuming they have been trained), but many of them do.
And we haven’t even started on the gurus with their endless sound bites for social media. Many of those sayings for both life and business advice are trite and meaningless, but some border on the plain dangerous. I want to highlight two examples of the ones that really should be eradicated from our lives.
Appalling Business Advice No. 1
“It’s never too late.”
Like many of these platitudes that are churned out, this one has no grounding in reality whatsoever. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes it is too late.
It is too late when you have reached the point of no return in your business if you or reliable advisors know there is nowhere left to go.
It is too late to keep going without a break if you are completely burnt out.
I would have liked to have played at Wimledon – but even if could hit a ball, I am too old and it is definitely too late now.
It is too late – even worse news – when you are dead and gone.
Life is extremely short – and businesses also tend to have a shelf life. You only have to look at the stats of survival rates of companies over ten or twenty years.
This continual preaching that it is never too late can lead to a belief that we have endless second chances, and more to the point, all the time in the world.
We don’t. Make your business work now. Enjoy it now. If you can’t, or you don’t, do something different.
Even worse Business Advice
This second one is a shocker – far worse and far more dangerous than number one. “Never give up.” This saying always smacks to me of a typically British sentiment though I am not sure where it came from initially.
It is, of course, based on the theory that grit and perseverance will win in the end, and indeed, a good dollop of both are necessary characteristics of an entrepreneur. However, pause and think for just a second. Should you never give up?
If you know something isn’t working, should you keep going regardless? And that might be a tiny facet of your business or the whole thing? Far more sensible to change course.
If, in your heart of hearts, you know the business will fail in the long run, should you keep going? Dead horse and flogging come to mind.
If you have given your business everything you have, financially, mentally, and physically, should you keep going? Of course not – and more accurately, better to stop before that point.
Since when has reviewing, a change of course, doing something completely different been a “bad” or even “terrible” thing to do? Is this the British horror of failure kicking in, I wonder?
Why have we become so addicted to this that every second social media post extols the virtue of keeping going and never giving up? It is truly dangerous business advice.
Note the extremely stupid “your future depends on what you do today” above – not too keen on this one!
There are plenty of professional coaches around. Ideally, get a personal recommendation, which I would always advise. You can also go to professional bodies such as the Association for Coaching or try the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches. or a third suggestion might be the International Coaching Federation. Most importantly, check that they are appropriately trained. Remember, they shouldn’t be giving you business advice!
For mentors, find someone who is an expert in your field or the specific area you want to learn more about (for example, marketing). Start by asking them politely for their advice on something specific and if a relationship develops, then consider asking them to mentor you.
Above all, disregard trite statements on social media, some of which are just trite and others that will give you absolutely awful business advice.
You might also find this article on choosing a coach useful.