There’s plenty of advice out there for how to start and run a business. But not all of it is good. In fact, there are some common sayings that are actually some of the worst business advice out there. The following includes some of the worst business advice you can follow.
The Worst Business Advice
Do What You Love
Although it may seem like a nice notion, this popular saying is widely considered one of the worst pieces of business advice out there. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean that others will find it helpful or necessary. And if no one buys what you’re selling, then doing what you love won’t really get you anywhere.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Likewise, simply building an offering doesn’t mean that you’ll actually attract any customers. This saying implies that if you put in the work, there are customers out there who will support your business. But if you don’t do the research and find a market for your product or service, you very well could be in for a rude awakening.
The Customer is Always Right
This popular saying is meant to encourage business owners and employees to work hard to accommodate customers. And while customers and their opinions are generally important to the success of businesses, they’re not always right. If you’re constantly giving discounts or changing your offerings every time a customer makes a demand, you could be hurting your brand and your bottom line.
Never Turn Down a Paying Customer
Likewise, you shouldn’t assume that every customer you get will help your business. Especially if you have a consulting business or provide some other service where it can be necessary for you to work with someone over the long-term, it may very well be in your best interest to only take on a few very select clients.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
This is some of the worst business advice out there because there’s no right path for every entrepreneur. If you’re just starting out, it may very well be in your best interest to keep your full-time job while building a business. But then again you might be better off quitting and putting all your time and effort into your new venture. When it comes to making this decision, each entrepreneur has to decide based on his or her own set of circumstances, and not listen to a single one-size-fits-all recommendation.
Stay Away From Established Markets
Some experts claim that in order to start a successful business, you need to find a brand new niche or a huge gap in the market. But that’s not always true. You can start a business in an established market as long as you have at least one small thing that customers will appreciate to set you apart.
If You Want Something Done Right, You Have to Do It Yourself
Too many business owners try to do everything themselves because they have a hard time trusting anyone else with their business. But the fact is there are experts and great potential employees out there who can help you do things better than you could all by yourself.
It’s All About Who You Know
Personal connections can certainly be helpful when it comes to running a successful business. But putting such a huge emphasis on them can discourage some people who aren’t well connected from starting businesses. You can always build connections as you go.
Stick to Your Plan
A business plan is a helpful tool. But it shouldn’t be the ultimate, unchanging guide for your business. Sometimes things change, and you should be able to adapt your plan to those changes.
Follow an Established Path to Success
Some experts think that there are just one or two ways to make it in the business world. But young, innovative entrepreneurs are forging their own paths every day. So don’t let anyone tell you that there’s one path you HAVE TO take in order to succeed.
Keep Your Business and Personal Life Separate
While there can be some merit to this piece of advice in certain situations, it’s no longer an absolute rule. Some small businesses actually thrive because the owner or the team shares their personality with customers. You don’t need to air all of your personal drama on social media. But being a little bit open and personable with your customers can be a good thing.
All Attention is Good Attention
Drawing attention to your business, especially during the early stages, can be difficult. So when you get any type of attention or press it might seem like a good thing. But if that attention isn’t in line with your brand and the image you want to portray, it could be doing more harm than good.
Hire the Most Experienced People
Experience can be a very good quality when looking to build your team. But it shouldn’t be the only quality you look for. Finding people who are enthusiastic, talented, creative and who share your vision for your business can be just as important — if not more so.
Offer the Lowest Prices
Plenty of new businesses fall into the trap of trying to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering the lowest prices. But that isn’t always sustainable depending upon your costs and your business model. And it could damage your reputation moving forward.
Work Hard and Success Will Come
Hard work is certainly important when it comes to running a successful business. But it is not the only thing that matters. Don’t think that just because you’re putting in long hours and trying your best that success will eventually come. Sometimes it’s more important to “work smart” than to work hard. Ultimately, the results you get are what matter.
Don’t Try New Things
If you’ve found one or two things that work in your business, it can seem like a safe bet to stick with what works. But doing that won’t allow your business to grow as quickly as you might like. Trying new things can be risky, but it can also be rewarding.
Never Say No
Saying no to new clients, partnerships or opportunities may seem like a bad business strategy. But if you say yes to everything, you could be spreading yourself too thin or taking your business in too many different directions. You need to be very intentional when making those decisions so you can be sure that they’re going to benefit your business in the long run.
You Have to Spend Money to Make Money
This can be true in some circumstances. But you shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that making big investments in new equipment, employees, training or other resources, will magically make your business better. You need to be smart about how you spend. And besides, many entrepreneurs have built highly successful businesses with very few or almost no resources at all.
Never Stop Working
You have to work hard to run a successful business. But you also need to find a balance, or else you’ll burn yourself out and find yourself too uninspired to run your business successful. The risk of burnout is one reason work-life balance is an absolute must.
Not all businesses succeed. In fact, most don’t. But this is still some of the worst business advice you could ever receive. It’s never up to someone else whether you give up or not. If that’s a decision you need to make, it should be based on more than just outside opinions. Never let others decide when it is time for you to throw in the towel.
What are some of the worst pieces of business advice you have ever heard?
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Annie, great job killing the self-help sacred cows. I especially love popping the “Do what you love” myth. It’s more like figuring out how to make what you do meaningful.
I agree about the Build it, they will come part. They always make it seem that you don’t have to extend an effort on your part but that is really far from the truth. It takes constant effort to build a business.
You are right on about “Stick with the Plan.” New businesses need to be able to react quickly to opportunities or changing circumstances, BUT they must never deviate from their Business Plan. i once told a potential partner that Business Plans aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Good call.