Be Careful What You Do with Advice

Just a few real article titles providing advice to entrepreneurs.

There is no shortage of books, blogs, and articles giving advice to entrepreneurs. But the best advice you may ever receive is to be careful what you do with advice.

Every successful entrepreneur can provide you with a list of decisions they made that they would advise against. And often that action was key in the success of their business. On the other hand, many businesses have failed or struggled unnecessarily because the entrepreneur missed out on an important piece of advice. So how do you know what advice to follow?

Well, here is my advice on… advice.

Seek advice from a wide range of sources.

Don’t rely on advice from a single source. Find more than one mentor. Read multiple books. Read articles from different authors. If possible, find a mentor who encourages a conservative approach and another who pushes you to take risks. It is easy for an entrepreneur to get tunnel vision. Ensure that you are receiving advice from sources that help you broaden your horizons.

Listen to advice that challenges your optimism.

Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic. If we weren’t, we would never put ourselves through the risks we take. Seek out advice that challenges your optimism. Read an article that declares your industry or technology to be dead. Can you answer that opinion with a substantive response? Find a mentor who will ask you hard questions. I’ve seen a lot of money poured down the drain because no one ever challenged an entrepreneur’s overly-optimistic vision. Being optimistic is great. Just make sure you can defend your optimism.

Learn to process advice quickly.

With so much advice out there, you need to acquire and process advice efficiently. Successful entrepreneurs know how to assess situations and act (or react) quickly. The same requirement applies to the advice you seek. You don’t have time for analysis paralysis. Hopefully the advice you seek will either confirm your intuition or provide some valuable tweaks to your approach. If you have a mentor who is actually slowing you down, seek advice elsewhere or only consult them on issues where there is time for ruminating.

Remember that no advice can fully address your situation.

Regardless of how emphatic advice may be, remember that you are responsible for finding the right answers. No mentor, blog post, book, or article can fully analyze all the variables involved in your business. So don’t look to anyone else to provide answers. If advice could provide all the right answers, there would be no need for the entrepreneur.

Make mistakes so that you will have valuable advice for others.

Great entrepreneurs don’t get everything right. Great entrepreneurs take calculated risks, fail fast, and try something else. As much as you may learn from others, you will learn more from your own experiences. So try lots of things, gain priceless experience, and share what you learn with others.