23 Best Business Advice Stories

When starting a business there are often more questions that answers. Therefore it’s great to have resources on the internet, and other business owners who have already walked the path you are on.

Rather than asking just anyone for business advice, you seek out those you most respect and admire to assist you with the challenges you face. Looking for examples of pivotal moments in the lives of business owners, and the sage advice they were given I asked –

What is the single best piece of business advice you ever received, who was it from, and how did it help you succeed?

The responses I received to this question were outstanding (as always), including advice on staying out of debt, being yourself, and focusing on developing your strengths, rather than overcoming your weaknesses. Plus, I love that Linda Hughes not only shared her experience, but has been the wise advisor of many others too. Way to go, Linda!!

Throwing my hat in the ring — my biggest desire is to know that every day I am using the gifts God gave me to the maximum potential. When recently at a crossroad wondering how to best proceed, my business coach Kenneth Manesse told me, “Go where God is already working and join Him there.” These might seem like simple words, but they’ve had a huge impact on my mind, heart and direction.

Do you have a story to share about the best advice you’ve received that has helped you grow your business? Please post it in the comments below. And if you like what you read, don’t forget to share this — there are plenty of easy social media links below. Enjoy!

1. What Is Your Job As A CEO?

This is what I was asked by one of my business advisors, Charles Crenshaw @cecrenshaw. His answer was that my most important job is to take my company to profitability. This advice has been invaluable because it pulls me back on target when all the other distractions take over. It helps me make decisions in every facet of my business.

Thanks to Linda Hughes of Entrepreneur Community Online, LLC

2. Be Yourself

The best advice I have ever received was from Natalie Bradley of Bride Attraction. She didn’t want anyone to be afraid to let our personalities shine through in our work. That was the turning point for me and my business. I had this preconceived notion that I had to be professional and business-like in all of my meetings and interactions. What I didn’t consider was that I wasn’t able to connect with anyone when I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t. As soon as I was able to be myself, I was able to connect with my clients and vendors in such a different level. This connection allowed them to trust me and my work!

Thanks to Amanda Walls of Cherishable Weddings and Events

3. You’re A Consultant, Jane!

I had always thought of myself as a businesswoman who specialized in PR. In the mid-1990s, I met a retired consultant, Teri Selcoe, who became a good friend — and my mentor. Teri told me that since I always dealt with the top levels of my client organizations, I should think of myself as a management consultant, not just as a businesswoman. Because of Teri, I joined a national professional association of management consultants (IMC USA, http://www.imcusa.org), attended its national conferences, and experienced a profound shift in my thinking about my professional identity. I have worked with this group on the national level ever since. IMC also awarded me a Certified Management Consultant designation (CMC) – which has become an important differentiator from my competitors.

Thanks to Jane Blume of Desert Sky Communications

4. I Can Open The Door, But You Have To Walk Through.

Best advice I ever got was from KISS’ Gene Simmons. While discussing a business opportunity he had for me he told me that he can open a door for me, but I have to walk through that door.

Thanks to Michael Brandvold of Michael Brandvold Marketing

5. Knowing What I Now Know…

The best piece of advice that I have ever received was from Brian Tracy. Brian said “Knowing what I now know, what am I doing that I would not have begun to do? Identify these things and pull out of them as quickly as possible.” This advice was difficult for me to internalize and embrace, but once I did, it inspired me to release projects that were not serving me so that I could pull myself out of my self-imposed overwhelm. It is now part of my business mantra and I share it with my clients as part of my training and mentoring programs on “getting over overwhelm.”

Thanks to Monique Y. Wells of Understanding Time Management

6. Stay Ready

Derrick M. Guest, CEO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. told me to “Stay Ready”. That was the best business advice that someone has ever given me. That advice has helped me to stay focused, and ready for any unexpected things that come up in our business.

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

7. Be Who You Are!

My Dad taught me more than 50 years ago that business is all about building relationships that can and will last for a lifetime, and to do that you must always be yourself. Today it is called being authentic — but even authentic often means to “present yourself in a certain aura” rather than simply being exactly who you are. As a businesswoman who has business relationships around the U.S. I know how important it is that the real me is clearly defined. I am honest, intuitive, dependable, reliable, always on time, enthusiastic, very likeable and known to go out of my way to help women —all women. The ‘fake it til you make it gang’ will learn this lesson the hard way — once you are caught faking it you’ll never be trusted again.

Thanks to Vicki Donlan of VickiDonlan

8. Make Your Mark

When I was a sophomore in college, I worked at a country club in Maryland. While interning at this club, I had tremendous mentors. One mentor, Kirk Reese, gave me the advice to “make your mark” no matter what path you decide to take with life. Making a mark ensures that there is passion behind what you are doing; it is difficult to get excited over something that you are not passionate about. Making a mark also puts a focus on impact–ensuring that time spent on a given activity is results in an outcome that will move a project or organization forward. Regardless of what project I am working on with iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?) or life, I always go in to everything with the idea on how to make my mark. Making a mark requires discipline and focus- both crucial to entrepreneurship.

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

9. Move Product Off Retailer’s Shelves!

My best piece of business advice came from a gentleman, who had years of experience in the toy business. His name is Brian Irwin from the Irwin Toy Family. When I was just about to launch my educational toy company, he said that I MUST do everything in my power to move the product off retailer’s shelves. I should never expect or rely on the retailer to do it themselves. This means I have made a strong commitment to PR, Marketing and Social Media! I am forever thankful for his advice and pleased that I don’t have thousands of unsold product piling up in my garage!

Thanks to Christy Cook of Teach My

10. What Is Success Anyway?

Success meant a VP title, travel, and a $1400 automatic deck awning, a symbol of my then-lifestyle. And then, I was no longer in corporate. I changed more than my career – marital status, the state I lived in, religion, business ownership, and more. Many changes & an awakening. In a class about marketing our coaching services, our instructor, Cam Gott, PCC, asked me the most powerful question: “Define success for yourself.” Define it for your coaching business, but also for yourself, your life. Today, my definition is more about the value I provide to my clients in coaching and organizing, not in the titles or the income. Success is about the person I have become and am becoming, how I treat people in my life, what I share, and how I connect and build community in my whole life.

Thanks to Sue West of Space4U Organizing & Coaching

11. Businesses Shouldn’t Take On Debt (Most Of The Time)

I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandparents, who were entrepreneurs. My grandmother, who managed the books, never failed to point out businesses that were hurting themselves by taking on debt to expand or even to launch. She firmly believed that if you needed to borrow money, you were doing it wrong. But this was balanced by my grandfather, who was willing to take out loans in very set circumstances — usually when he already had everything worked out in a deal so that he could turn around and pay off the bank in a matter of weeks. The lesson I took away from my grandparents’ approach is that borrowing money is rarely the best solution, which has helped me grow my business with no debt.

Thanks to Thursday Bram of Hyper Modern Consulting

12. Strengthen Your Strengths

The best piece of business advice I have received is to strengthen your strengths not your weaknesses. Most business owners focus on trying to improve their weaknesses, but that’s the wrong approach!

Instead, honor your weaknesses and let them go! Often they aren’t weaknesses because you can’t do them/it, but because it’s not your area of brilliance and pure genius. Spending your time in these areas of your business will zap your energy and waste your time.

Hire others whose strengths match up with your weaknesses.

This approach will allow you to use your energy to focus on your strengths, invest in getting even better at what you do, and take your talents and expertise to a whole new level … This approach will position you not just as an expert, but as an authority in your niche.

Thanks to Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative

13. Best Business Advice? Get Involved In Social Media!

So you have a great concept; Cutting edge & ahead of its time. You study the competition, discover a real need, spend your life savings to protect your IP, start pressing ahead with prototypes & promotion! You just KNOW this is going to be an overnight success & industry will beat down your door because THIS IS GENIUS! Well, the genius part may be true, but the problem is…nobody else knows it. Fast forward a few years; still attending local meetups hoping to be “discovered”. Battle weary, still tradin’ cards with Shark’s looking for rent money & then it happens! You actually meet someone who is interested in who you are! That someone was Linda Hughes of ECOnline. Her message? “Go Global, not local, Network with Social Media!” Am I there yet? No; But getting close & having fun doing it!

Thanks to Chris Hollerback of TCFS Development Co. LLC

14. This Is Not School

When starting in business, my Dad said to me; “In school if you get a 90 average you’re an honor student. In business if you get a 90 average, the 10% you didn’t know is your profit & you go out of business. You’ve got to know your business 100% everyday”.

Knowing your business 100% means being in total tune with it. By knowing every nook of my business, I would know intuitively every right move to make because it was always talking to me. I never made a stupid mistake. There was no guessing or assuming.

When you know your business 100%, there is less stress & a high level of confidence and control. I have found that this kind of energy always attracted the right people & situations always so effortlessly. Business became a printing press. All I had to do was show up.

Thanks to Harris Glasser of Serving The People Press LLC

15. Game Of Thrones:: Play To Win

“When you are in a card game, you never allow the other players to see what’s in your hand.” As the words left his mouth, I was storing the quote into my brain. I was told this by a previous supervisor and I honestly don’t remember his name. But his advice stuck. So many people prematurely expose their ideas. Sometimes, it’s best to just keep it to yourself and allow whatever it is you are working on to speak for itself. In business and as an entrepreneur, I have learned that many people are inspired to accomplish the same goals that you are working toward. And it is true, some people just take your idea and make it theirs. So always be wise when talking about your business and how you are going to achieve certain things. Keep your lips sealed and allow your ideas to speak for itself.

Thanks to Tawana Necole of Corporate Chics, LLC

16. What Would You Do Differently IF……

Early in my career I was asked this question: “What would you do differently if you knew you could not fail or be fired?” And to be honest I could not answer at first for the question had never entered my mind. After thinking about it, the answer was really anything and everything. It truly made me think “outside of the box.” I realized that we are afraid to try something new, different or challenging. We truly limit our own potential for excellence because of our fear, and willingness to always do it the same way because that is just the way things are done. The person who asked me that question was my boss, Kenneth Lockhart. He let me know that I was free to think of new ways to do things without the fear of being fired or failing. It has made all the difference in my career and life.

Thanks to Lynndel Edgington of Eagle Research Associates, Inc.

17. Be Yourself

The best business advice I ever received came from Linda Hughes, CEO of Entrepreneur Community Online.She told me “to be my self” that the passion I have would drive success. She was spot on. In the last year I have heard the words “I love your passion” or “you are so passionate about what you do” constantly in meetings emails and tweets. I am moved by those words every time I hear them, and think of Linda’s advice. It proves particularly successful in social media when the face to face meeting takes place. The truth builds trust which builds relationships and successful businesses.

Thanks to Lori Sica of NJ Greats

18. Find Yourself By Funding Yourself

Back in law school a professor gave me some sage like advice that always stuck, and that was to never take out a loan or take money from investors. He said the better path to starting your own business was to find a like-minded partner, put up your own capital, and bootstrap until your service takes off. Thanks to that advice, we built the business from the ground up without taking a dollar from anyone, and have been profitable since we launched.

Thanks to Michael Pesochinsky of GovernmentAuctions.org

19. Find Out About Their Needs!!

Over all the sales and marketing training I’ve had, the one thing that sticks out in my mind is to identify their needs…and expand on that! Needs, needs, needs!!

Thanks to Cara Steele of B&J’s Landscaping LLC

20. The Best Fruit Is Free

We met a venture capitalist at Hatch Match one year and he explained that if you give your service or product away for free and build up market-share, then add-on revenue streams to monetize the interest and traffic – you will reap the rewards. Starting your own business from the ground up could be a lot of work. Charging for your product or service off the bat is very appealing, but it will substantially slow down your growth, as the market of potential paying users is much smaller than the market of potential free users. We decided to follow the VC’s advice, and it’s beginning to bear fruit.

Thanks to Dahlia Roth of GovernmentBargains.com

21. Run A Free Test With Those Closest To You

Testing your service for free on your friends and neighbors before starting to charge for it is some great advice that we got from the landlord of our building. That was great advice because before we released our promotional giveaway service to the general public, we ran a bunch of giveaways for our friends and neighbors for free. This gave us a chance to fine-tune our offering and work out all the kinks. Now, businesses are lining up to pay for our service, and we can feel satisfied that we thoroughly tested it out.

Thanks to I. Aronovich of Awardable

22. Help A Reporter Help You.

A friend of mine, who also happens to be an attorney, turned us onto HARO (helpareporterout.com), which is a free service that sends you three emails daily alerting you to article topics for which you could serve as a reporter’s source if you have the expertise. As a result of our participation in HARO, we have gained a larger business presence and become a source for many reputable media outlets, appearing in different blogs and articles.

Thanks to Elik Aaron of SaleRacks

23. Learn From The Mistakes Of Others

The best advice that we ever got was from a business professor at the University of Utah who said that the best time to enter a new market is usually right after the first movers have failed and when you have their experience to learn from. Several giants having gone belly up in our industry recently, and this gave us the understanding that our service, while revenue based, would have to be free to the consumer in order to weather through the recession. Having followed his advice, we released a free foreclosure database and we are eating up market-share as we speak.

Thanks to Eli Israel of Foreclosure Magic

Thanks so much again to all our wonderful contributors for sharing the best business advice you’ve received! 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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