Pros Share the Worst Business Advice They’ve Ever Received

Leaders Discuss Some of the Bad Business Advice They've Received

The biggest problem with receiving advice from peers or mentors is that you never know what will work and what won’t. While a lot of successful businesses are born out of the intelligence and ability of their owners, sometimes, people pass on advice they’ve heard — or misheard — without any personal experience to add perspective. As a result, the advice they offer is based on a gut feeling, which may or may not be a boon to your own business: In some cases, the advice they share can be downright terrible for a budding entrepreneur.

To help identify some of the bad advice out there, we asked 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What is the worst piece of business advice you’ve ever heard? Why is it so harmful?”

Bad Business Advice

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. It’s All About the Money

“It’s unfortunate, but too many business people prioritize money over ethics, integrity and service. Business is first about serving others. Making money, while an integral part of any for-profit business, should take a back seat to the importance of serving others. The worst advice I’ve heard throughout my entrepreneurial career is that business success is all about money. I disagree.” ~ Kristopher Brian Jones,

2. Raise as Much Capital as You Can

“With venture capital money being everywhere, firms are giving up massive equity for short-term money. The glamorization of entrepreneurship has created impatient business owners looking to scale as fast as they can. Behind every successful business, you’ll find someone who put in years of work to get to where they are. Nothing amazing happens overnight. Keep your equity and bootstrap as long as possible.” ~ Frank B. Mengert, ebm

3. Work on What You Are Passionate About

“I find it problematic that many mentors tell new entrepreneurs to just “work on what they love.” The market really doesn’t care about what you love, it cares about what it loves. A better piece of advice would be, “find what the market loves, and then find what you love inside of that subset, and work on that.” Too many people blindly follow their passion without evaluating its market potential.” ~ Jeff Keenan, LeadsRx

4. Always Come Out on Top

“The worst piece of business advice I’ve received was to win every deal. With business partnerships beneficial for the long run of your company, sometimes you’ll win big time and other times you’ll have to give up things to reap benefits later. If you’re trying to come on top on every deal or partnership, no one will want to do business with you and you’ll come across as untrustworthy.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

5. There’s a Market for Everything

“Hearing “there’s a market for everything” has been the worst advice I’ve ever heard. To be a successful business owner, you need to develop a product or service where people will actually want to buy what you’re selling. Developing a low-cost prototype and testing it in various markets is the key to success. Don’t develop something and try to sell it without any tests. That’s a sure way to fail.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

6. You Can Do Anything

“Yes, it’s a nice thing to say to a child in elementary school, but it’s far less realistic to say this to an adult as actionable business advice. The inconvenient truth is that many opportunities expire once you hit a certain age. This has mainly to do with the amount of time needed to gain experience and education no longer being feasible or even worthwhile. Stick to what you know!” ~ Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute of Success

7. Do It All on Your Own

“The worst advice an entrepreneur can get is to do everything on their own or to micromanage every aspect of their business. It’s likely you don’t have all the skills to manage every single business operation. When you try to do everything on your own, you’re likely to make serious mistakes. Hire people, delegate tasks and focus on what you’re good at.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

“The idea that any kind of recognition is good is outdated. Today, the internet connects billions of people and you can never really remove content that’s online. It’s not enough to get just any kind of public attention. You need to create a positive image and avoid a negative reputation at all costs. Once you have a negative reputation online, you may never live it down.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Don’t Worry About It

“The worst advice I have heard was, “Relax and don’t worry so much about it. The problem will resolve by itself.” This might be true to some extent; however, the solution you will get might not be the one you will enjoy. So be ready and act. Even if there is a chance to sway it into the direction you need there might be a chance. ” ~ Eugene Gold, WOW Payments LLC

10. Make Your Weaknesses Your Strengths

“If someone is terrible at something and they work really hard at it, they can eventually become … mediocre. If they are good at something and work at it, they can become great. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to be aware of and improve your faults, but I’m a big believer in leveraging strengths and outsourcing weaknesses. There’s someone great at what you can’t do, let them do it! Focus wins.” ~ Jeff Jahn, DynamiX

11. Hire as Many as You Can

“While extra hands and help is a good thing, it’s not necessary to hire more than you need just in case something goes wrong or needs fixing. I was once told that I should hire more than I need to toward the beginning to avoid failure and hardship, but this isn’t a good idea. If you don’t need an extra employee, then there’s no point in paying them for work you can do yourself.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

12. You Need Yearly Goals to Be Successful

“Goals are great when you don’t have a general idea of where you are going. But understanding why you want to go a certain direction is much more powerful to more people on your team. The “what” will change throughout the year, but the “why” will not. I personally think too many people put too much focus on yearly goals that will most likely be irrelevant in 12 months.” ~ James Guldan, Vision Tech Team

13. Don’t Negotiate

“I was told on several occasions by various people that negotiating makes you a sucker. While I can vaguely understand their point of view, I haven’t found that statement to be true. I enjoy negotiating and building rapport with partners across my industry. In most cases, partnerships always work out on some level, and I’ve found success by forging these connections that centered on negotiation.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

14. Don’t Bother With Conventions

“Several mentors in my life told me that conventions wouldn’t help me grow my business. The reality is I was able to connect with some cool business owners and customers by attending some of the large-scale events in my state. If someone tells you that online networking is the only thing that matters, they have obviously never tried to connect with interested clients at a conference.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC

15. Stick With It

“Sometimes cutting your losses is the smart play. But I’ve heard people say, “stick with it.” If a business or a product isn’t working, don’t stick with it simply because you’ve invested time and energy into it. Whether something isn’t working or you have grown as a person and don’t feel as passionate anymore, it is OK to walk away. Don’t stick with something just to stick with it.” ~ Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution

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The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.