10 Big Lessons from Bad Business Advice

Last week’s post was centered around really great business advice that worked for the entrepreneurs who shared their stories.

In contrast, this week I wanted to showcase the big lessons learned from bad business advice. My hope in sharing this information with you is that you might avoid going down some of the wrong paths that these business owners did.

If you have a bad business advice story from which you learned a valuable lesson, please post it in the comments below.

And if you find this post interesting, by all means, share it. Enjoy!


1. You Can’t Do It That Way…!

When I started my newspaper business in 1998, I was told by some of the wealthiest, successful women I know-“You can’t do it that way because no one ever has.” Can’t is not a word in my vocabulary. Can’t is not a word that people should ever use to offer guidance or advice. I learned right then and there, can’t is a word people born into wealth and success often use when they don’t want others to follow their dreams. Lesson learned: If someone tells you you can’t reach your dream tell them can’t is not a word in your vocabulary and thank them for the kick in the butt you needed to find someone else who will support your journey to success.

Thanks to Vicki Donlan of VickiDonlan

2. The Secret Led Me Astray

I got involved and wrapped up in the hype of The Secret long enough that I made some very bad business decisions. I allowed my common sense and better judgement to get sidetracked, relying on “dream it and it will manifest” instead of tried and true sound business practices. Thank goodness I found my way back quickly. Nothing like a hefty excel spreadsheet full of red numbers to manifest some serious forward momentum and ACTION.

Thanks to Linda Hughes of Entrepreneur Community Online, LLC

3. You Can Succeed Online Without A List

When you hear someone say that you can succeed in business online without a mailing list, your guard should go up. It’s what you want to hear and those who tell you this know that it’s what you want to hear. You need to listen very carefully afterward. If the person is honest, subsequently he or she will say that you need to have a list of at least “x” number of persons – or that you need JV or affiliate partners with lists – to hope to make what they are telling you work. If the person doesn’t say this, don’t buy from him or her. If he or she reveals these numbers, compare them to yours and realistically assess your chance of success. If you are risk-averse or can invest your time and money better elsewhere, take a pass on the offer. As Dan Kennedy says, “The money is in the list!”

Thanks to Monique Y. Wells of Understanding Time Management

4. Don’t Use Your Middle Name

Growing up with southern parents it is natural that they use your middle name. When I went to college one of my professors told me if I ever wanted to be taken seriously I should drop my middle name or just use my initial. When people ask me my middle name and I tell them (southerners guess) they say I love that why don’t you use it? That was the worst business advice I’ve ever gotten. What I learn is that my middle name is part of who I am and part of my identity.

Thanks to Eula M. Young of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc.

5. Stick It Out.

I am all for being committed to a project, a person, an initiative, or a dream. I think discipline is required to stick things out. However, sometimes sticking it out may be the one thing that holds you back. A mentor of mine told me to “stick it out” in response to a difficult situation that I was going through about two years ago. Naturally, I took the advice, and tried to stick it out. However, in the end, the result was the same–the situation did not turn around and it was time to cut and move on. This experience made me realize that every piece of advice must be taken with a grain of salt. When in a difficult situation, we have the requirement to do our best but we also need to be smart enough to cut our losses based on our own situations. This was a great lesson in knowing self.

Thanks to Mona Anita Olsen of iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?)

6. Get A Job First And Build Up To Starting A Business

When I was in college, I got a lot of advice. One of the pieces that I heard over and over again when people found out that I wanted to run my own business was that, after I graduated, I should focus on getting a job first. Then, once my I’d built up some savings, I could start thinking about entrepreneurship. I tried to follow that advice, but I quit my first post-college job within two weeks of taking it.

You’re ready to make the leap when you feel you can do it. It’s that simple. For some of us, working a day job while we build up our businesses will drive us crazy or, worse, kill our businesses. Sometimes you just have to make the leap and see what happens.

Thanks to Thursday Bram of Hyper Modern Consulting

7. Too Smart For His Own Good.

In 1998 I lived in a crappy 1 bed & dump (I mean..den) in Vancouver, BC. My land lord was a Doctor (G.P.) who had about 14 initials after his name on his business cards. MA, MBA, PHD, etc… I told him I was thinking about getting my real estate licence. He laughed in my face, told me all ‘all the real money in Vancouver RE is gone’ and that I should get into the dotcom industry. He even told me he was selling his house.

A little over one year later Vancouver began one of the longest real estate booms in the history of the city, ending up as one of the most expensive cities in the world. I now own my own brokerage, properties and have had a stupendous 12 yrs, 8 of which as a top 10% Realtor.

Trust your gut…and not someone who thinks their IQ doubles as a crystal ball.

Thanks to Tom Everitt of Www.ThinkTom.com Realty

8. Dream Squelchers Beware!

The worst business advice I received was from someone I was dating who encouraged me NOT to go into business. He questioned if anyone would want to pay for the services I offer. Fortunately I didn’t listen to him (and stopped going out with him, I might add). Several years later he apologized and said he was really amazed at what I had achieved. Guess what? Twelve years later, Spirited Solutions is still going strong! Nah nah nah nah nah, Mr ________! (Imagine me with the glee of a six-year-old, wiggling my fingers in the air beside my ears….) Don’t let anyone ever squelch your dream. A dream plus hard work equals success on your own terms!

Thanks to Dr. Barnsley Brown of Spirited Solutions Speaking & Coaching

9. Don’t Build Your Business On A “sandy” Product Or Service.

I was working on a high growth venture that had huge potential. One of our investors was anxious about launching the product right away so we would be the first to market and could build market share fast. He wasn’t worried about having the best product or even about profitability. He just wanted growth.

We spent tons of money and built up a big customer base — until the products started failing in the field, and customers were disappointed with the product experience. It all came crashing back to earth with millions in investor dollars wasted.

Before you can grow, you need to have a few very happy customers before you try to scale to have thousands or millions. Once you have the “secret sauce” then you can replicate the recipe to achieve rapid, and sustainable growth.

Thanks to Brad Farris of EnMast.com

10. Just Don’t Do It

The worst advice I have ever heard was from an associate who once told
me to “Just Do It”. What I learned from this was to never rush
decisions in business with no exceptions to this rule.

Thanks to Jason Sallman of Sure Bet Poker




Thanks so much again to all our wonderful contributors for sharing your big business lessons learned from following bad advice! We hope to hear from you again. And to all our readers, if you have an innovative idea to share, we hope you will leave it in the comments below.

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