When embarking on any new venture, we often seek advice from those who have walked the path before us, looking for valuable insights and lessons learned. Some enigmatic pieces of advice are the complete opposites of what we have been taught and yet hold the potential to unleash creativity and innovation in our ventures. These pieces of advice go against the notion of having a concrete blueprint, urging entrepreneurs to embrace uncertainty and navigate the uncharted waters of their journey with an adventurous spirit.
We asked business leaders, entrepreneurs, and business owners about their pieces of advice that are complete opposite of what they have learned before starting their venture. Here are the responses.
#1- Plan right and strategize
One piece of advice I used to hear a lot was, “If you build it, they will come”. The belief behind that statement was that if you can offer a good service or build a good product with all its bells and whistles, people will buy it. That might have been true around twenty or thirty years back. But now it is totally different. With the type of competition and noise around any sector you have a look at, even the best product would fail without the right planning and strategy.
Thanks to Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas!
#2- Be real
When I started my business in 2016, I was told repeatedly “Fake it till you make it” by many people in the events and hospitality industry who thought they were providing sound advice. To be honest, that advice didn’t sit right with me then or ever really. thought, why would you fake it when there are so many experts, leaders, mentors, and coaches you can learn from so you don’t have to? That is what I went on to do.
Thanks to Bex Harris, On Brand Events!
#3- Stay curious and adaptable
The idea of following your passion isn't one size fits all. I don't think I ever “found my passion” and it caused a lot of inaction in my life. I was waiting for this big Eureka moment that never hit, the moment I would go: “Oh that's my passion!” Instead of waiting to find your passion, so that you can follow it; it might be better to stay curious and adaptable.
Thanks to Blake Love, Vulcreate!
#4- Find the right relationships
“Never leave money on the table” might seem tempting, but it's not always the wisest path for founders and business owners. Specifically when fundraising, it isn't just about gathering a war chest – it's about finding the right relationships with the right investors who offer more than just capital. And, over-fundraising can trigger a domino effect of complications, from cap-table issues to inflated valuations, which can ruin future fundraising.
Thanks to Mike Pio Roda, The Creative VC!
#5- Hire the experts
“You can do it all starting small” — B.S. Not only will that lead to complete and total burnout as well as a complete loss of passion but will not set the company up to grow and scale. One person cannot be an expert at everything which is why a carefully cultivated contract or employed team of experts in the fields you are not specialized in is the best way to set your business up for success and the future.
Thanks to Rachel Eigen, Aesthetics Growth Solutions!
#6- You don't have to do it all yourself
When starting my advertising agency back in 1995, I believed that to be considered a legitimate business, I needed to invest in high-end printing equipment to produce color prints and large-format signage for my potential clients. However, that didn't prove to be the case. I not only burdened my new business with a three-year business loan, but I didn't realize the time required for the actual production of the printed work.
Thanks to Rocco Del Greco, The New York Group!
#7- Move fast
Along with my boyfriend (and a 10-pound dog, Marlee!), the three of us run our very own coffee business called TBD Coffee. As I was starting my business (in the middle of the Pandemic), the advice I was constantly given was to take it slow and make sure it was perfect before launching. Looking back now, I would advise the opposite – get started, move fast, and tweak as you go. Initial perfection is an unrealistic goal and most of my learnings were devised after I started testing strategies and making sales.
Thanks to Ashley Vasquez, TBD Coffee!
#8- Embrace disruption
As CEO of Authors On Mission, one piece of advice I initially received was to focus primarily on traditional routes to success. However, I soon realized that in our rapidly evolving world, following conventional wisdom can limit growth. Instead, I learned to embrace disruption, pioneering the ‘Angel Writer' service, a non-traditional approach that revolutionized how we create and publish books.
Thanks to Vikrant Shaurya, Authors On Mission!
#9- Micromanage whenever possible
Many have trouble coping with the fact that their reputations hinge so heavily on the actions of others. Thus, they’ll compensate by trying to control as many aspects of team performance as possible— this is a sentiment that is the complete opposite of the advice I learned before starting my venture, which is to micromanage whenever possible, at least until your business is firmly established.
Thanks to Brian Lee, Arena Club!
#10- Rely 100% on mentors
My piece of advice that is the complete opposite of what I learned before starting my venture is to not follow 100% of what your coach suggests. Coaching is great, but one of the things that is not always addressed is your personal financial situation and your risk tolerance. While a coach is someone that we often do depend on, ultimately the responsibility falls on us. In my niche of real estate investing, taking 100% of the advice can sometimes result in catastrophic consequences.
Thanks to Sebastian Jania, Ontario Property Buyers!
#11- Embrace imperfection as a tool for growth
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes going against what you learned before starting your venture can lead to success. For example, instead of striving for perfection, consider embracing imperfection and using it as a tool for growth. Or, rather than constantly seeking validation from others, trust your instincts and make decisions based on your own values and vision.
Thanks to Dom Bavaro, Dom Bavaro!
#12- Don't rely on your experience only
One piece of advice that contradicts what I learned before starting my venture is to solely focus on being an expert in the field I was entering. While this advice isn't entirely incorrect, I've come to realize that it's insufficient. Reflecting on my own experience, I made the mistake of believing that my expertise in web development and internet marketing, coupled with my co-founder's design skills, would be enough to establish a successful internet marketing agency.
Thanks to Dmitrii Kustov, RegexSeo!
#13- Be flexible
I received a piece of advice that I held onto dearly before starting my venture – “Stick to your original plan, no matter what.” However, as I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey, I soon realized that being flexible and open to change was the key to success. Contrary to the initial advice, I learned that it's essential to embrace agility and be willing to pivot when necessary. By remaining adaptable and responsive to feedback and market trends, I was able to make timely adjustments to my strategies and offerings.
Thanks to Paul Mario Vratusha, D-Studio Consulting!
Diversification is not the key to success – specialization is. When starting in business, work was naturally slow. Early advice I received suggested that I diversified my services to attract a wider pool of clients. Now, 15 years later, I have realized that specialization, not diversification is the key to success. The more niche your skills and talent, the easier is it to attract and communicate with the right clients.
Thanks to Ryan Stone, Lambda Films!
#15- Go innovate
The same people told me that employing my practitioners and health coaches on salary wouldn't work, being way too expensive. I was convinced that valuing my people would pay dividends in retaining the good ones. Five years on, and many of those same people are following suit with our model, whilst simultaneously complaining about high people turnover. My advice: avoid groupthink, go innovate.
Thanks to Jabe Brown, Melbourne Functional Medicine!
#16- Think outside the box
Challenge the status quo and demand more when you know you’ve achieved what they’ve asked you to. That is what you should do if you want to be truly successful and whole, and how I ultimately became an entrepreneur. I was always told to stay in a “box” until someone else said I earned the right to get out of that box. They might have let me out eventually, but they’re not going to let you do what you want, or give you what you’ve earned even if you get out of it.
Thanks to David Barkoe, Carve Communications!