There’s no shortage of advice for entrepreneurs.
And it can be tough to find the signal amidst all the noicee.
Here are three pieces of common entrepreneur advice that misses the mark.
1. “For only 3 payments of $297…”
People have been selling information in one way or another for as long as there has been information, but the Internet has changed the info product landscape forever.
There are now ebooks and online courses about entrepreneurship that you can buy.
This is an amazing thing. A great thing. And—sometimes—a dangerous thing for startup entrepreneurs like us. Here’s why.
Becoming an entrepreneur 30 years ago was much different than it is today. To learn how to be an entrepreneur you had to become one out of necessity, accidentally become one after years of working in the industry, or working for your uncle at his corner store.
Those are gross overgeneralizations, of course, but don’t miss the point: To become an entrepreneur, you had to learn how to do at as you did it.
The answers came from experience and mentorship.
While the answers today still come from those two sources, something incredibly interesting has changed in the way we find answers: We Google for answers.
When we Google for answers about how to start up, we will find results from the best marketers. The best marketers may not be the best sources of information, but they’re the best at selling that information.
Fantastic courses are fantastic. Amazing business books are amazing. I’ve paid my fair share of $297 payments for entrepreneurship courses.
But nothing quite beats learning entrepreneurship by doing entrepreneurship.
2. Don’t create a business plan.
It’s very popular within entrepreneur circles to bash on business plans.
This is especially true within people building technology companies. The reasoning behind this is that we can never predict what “the market” is going to do. Therefore, there’s no reason why we should try to “plan” out the future.
They’re not wrong, but they’re not completely right either.
We can’t predict the future. That’s fair. But saying that we shouldn’t create a plan for our business is like saying we shouldn’t pay attention to GPS to get where we need to go.
Business plans for startups don’t need to be the cumbersome plans filled with analytics and roadmaps and paragraph after paragraph about what we think will happen. Predictions aren’t worth much when you’re first starting. There are simply too many unknowns.
But we do need to plan what we’re going to do next.
A huge misconception of business plans is that we create them once then do everything we can to make the plan a reality.
That’s completely wrong.
For a startup entrepreneur, a business plan as something that evolves week-to-week, day-to-day, even minute-to-minute.
Just because plans change, that doesn’t mean that plans are worthless.
3. Failure is a good thing.
Failure is horrible.
You can trust me on this one. I’m practically an expert at it. I’ve studied it, lived it, and done it. After all my experiences, I’ve come to the very simple conclusion that failure is not a good thing.
When people tell you that failure is a good thing, they’re not telling you the truth.
That doesn’t mean they’re lying. They’re just not telling you the full truth about failure. Look, failure isn’t as necessary as we think it is, but there’s something that is.
We’ve got to learn from success, learn from failure, learn from everything. I know very smart people who prefer to learn from other’s failure. Smart.
And that’s what people mean when they tell you that failure is a good thing.
What they should really be saying is, “Failure can lead to some incredibly important—and painful—insight at the expense of your clients, customers, investors, and employees.”
Catch that last part?
I haven’t met one (now former) client who was happy when I botched it. They’ve all been less than happy. Some were much less than happy.
What I’ve learned the most from was recovering from failure, not from the failure itself. As entrepreneurs, we’ve got to accept that failure will happen.
But that doesn’t mean that we should accept failure itself.
Take advice with a grain of salt, including mine.
Something strange happens to advice when you read it online: it becomes believable.
We read things and because they’re written down, we’re more prone to believe them. My advice is not immune to that effect. Take all business advice with a grain of salt, including mine.
Then do what great entrepreneurs do: find your own solution.
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Photo: Flickr/Dave Herholz