The thing that makes bad business advice so dangerous is that it often sounds reasonable and could even be supported by some evidence. It may even be that following this suggestion has already helped some people to achieve their goal. It’s also often the case that the person offering this type of advice is being sincere and wants to be helpful. This means that you will usually need to do a bit of research to determine the reasonableness of what is being suggested.
One of the most important things you need to do when evaluating business advice is to make an assessment of the person offering it. It is easy to dismiss those who want to sell you a guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme if they are obviously struggling financially. Even if this person is obviously successful, you still need to assess if they know enough about your business to offer advice. You also want to be careful around the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ advisers. The best advice is based on honest personal experience. Another clue that your mentor may be offering bad advice is that there seems to be some type of agenda behind it.
An example of this would be the person is trying to convince you of the importance of a fancy business plan and just happens to provide a service to help you do this. The person may also going to have a bias towards doing things a certain way, even if it is not the most effective option, out of a sense of loyalty to tradition.
It is best to be skeptical about any promises of a shortcut to success. You need to trust your intuition, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is going to be a lot of advice that isn’t in itself bad, but it is just not right for you. Here are a few examples of worst pieces of business wisdom that most of us would be better off ignoring.
Just Follow Your Bliss
The problem with “just follow your bliss” mantra is that it can be a chaotic and unproductive way to approach business. It assumes that the path to your goal is only going to involve things you like, and this is usually not the case. The other problem with just doing what you like is your passions are going to change over time, so it can mean regularly starting new projects but never sticking at anything long enough to be successful. There is also the risk that only doing what you want could cause harm to other people – for example, if everyone just followed their bliss, few marriages would last more than a year.
A better approach to business is a compromise between following your bliss and providing a product or service that is going to be of value to other people. It is not practical to only do what you love, but by focusing on the needs of consumers, you can do something that is both satisfying and financially rewarding.
Wait For Everything To Be Perfect Before You Launch
Reid Hoffman (Co-Founder, LinkedIn) once said “if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” There are good reasons for why you would want your product or service to look reasonably polished on the day of release, but if you wait for everything to be perfect, you could easily lose your opportunity for success. Steve Jobs is renowned for being obsessive about even the smallest details, but let’s face it, Apple 1 looked a bit amateurish.
Releasing your product early means you get to enjoy feedback from consumers, and this is going to make it easier for you work out bugs and improve functionality
The Key To Success Is A Great Business Plan
A cynic might wonder if the people who most benefit from business plan are those who write books on the subject. Some of the most successful companies around today, including Microsoft, didn’t start off with a business plan. The key to achieving greatness is to provide something that customers are willing to pay for, and to find an effective way to connect with these people.
A business plan can provide you with clarity of purpose, but it isn’t as crucial to your success as many experts would have you believe. If you prioritize creating this document over taking concrete action to achieve your goals, you might never leave square one.
Use Fear To Motivate Your Team
The problem with running your business like a dictator is that you are probably not going to be getting the most out of your team. This management style may still work in situations where employees are engaged in repetitive tasks, where independent thinking is discouraged, but most jobs aren’t like this anymore.
Fear stifles creativity, and it reduces productivity. It also means that employees feel no real loyalty to the company as they focus their energies on staying out of trouble.
Act Successful And The Rest Will Follow
There may be some truth to the ‘fake it to make it’ approach to business, but this positive attitude can progress into delusional thinking. This happens when entrepreneurs refuse to acknowledge the reality of their situation – their business if failing, but they are not willing to face up to the fact and do what is necessary to rectify the problem.
Acting like you have already made it can boost your motivation, and it can impress important people enough to open doors that would otherwise be closed, but ignoring reality too much is likely to put you on a path to disaster.
Lie About Your Qualifications
Telling a few lies to get your foot in the door can seem harmless. The reality is that most people admit to exaggerating their experience and qualifications on application forms when applying for jobs. The problem with this type of untruth is that it could completely ruin your credibility should it ever become known, and this information can follow you around for the rest of your life.
You may be fantastic at your job, an expert in your field, but if there is evidence that you have lied about your qualifications, it can seriously harm your reputation. Even if your employer decides to not take action over the lie, it is going to be something that can be used against you later. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Don’t Risk The Security Of A Steady Job
It’s probably a bad idea to stick to a career where you don’t feel satisfied just because of job security. Life is short, and you are going to be spending a huge chunk of this time at work. Lots of people put up with an unsatisfying career in the hope that they can enjoy life once they retire, but too many of these people die before this happens.
There is almost certainly going to be a way for you to make enough money and do a job you love, but you are probably going to have to risk your current career security to achieve this. This is easier to do when you realize that the sense of job security most people feel is just an illusion – there are few jobs for life in the modern world.