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Difference between the Right and the Wrong Advice

There will be people in your business category and industry with a lot of knowledge and experience. On your journey, you will meet many of them in various capacities: customers, advisers, partners, employees, industry peers, investors, journalists; some only at conferences and industry meets. And all of them will have a lot to tell you about how to make your business better and how you should do things.

The best part about advice is that it comes free and that people love to give it. The issue is not about people giving it and even if it were, you cannot stop them. The issue is about how you take it. Many of them would probably be seniors in the industry and you might feel obliged to pay attention to what they have to say. With all due respect to them, again, the issue is not about their knowledge or their intentions. It is about the relevance it might have for you and your business and about the limited knowledge they would have of it.

You need to make some rules on that for yourself. A few are mentioned here:

  • If you want guidance on something, ask specific questions. Ideally, they would be questions with a few options to choose from. A question such as ‘How do I increase my revenue?’ can have 100 answers, of which ninety-nine might not be relevant to your business. Ask specific questions, such as ‘Do you think my customers will buy my product if I hike the price by 20 per cent?’ or, ‘What is the maximum that you think a customer will pay for this?’ (Giving them three options).

  • There is a difference between suggestion and advice. Suggestion is a person telling you to think about something or to re-consider when taking a decision. Advice is that person’s opinion about something.

  • Differentiate between industry advice and your company advice. Anything that is not specific to your business but is generally applicable to many other companies in your industry and category can be termed industry advice, such as: the revenue potential of an industry; hiring of a particular talent; the market size of a category, etc. Company advice is when it is specific to your business and company: how you should grow; how many people you should hire; where you should invest your resources. You should welcome industry advice because it comes from people who are a part of that industry, especially peers and industry colleagues. For company-specific advice, stick to people who have knowledge about your company.

  • Don’t take any advice at face value, from anyone, whether he is a veteran of your industry or its leader and no matter how much he knows about your company. Evaluate everything.

  • Avoid taking advice from a person who has pondered the question and its relevance to your company only when you asked the question. In other words, a person who does not know much about your company can’t give you appropriate advice.

  • Never take any advice from a person who is not ever going to meet you again. He has nothing to lose.

  • Always listen to people when they tell you about their mistakes, failures and incorrect decisions. Generally, people don’t lie or exaggerate in such matters.

  • Some of the best advice you can get is from people who have failed in trying to do what you are doing or similar to what you are doing.

  • Don’t take advice from people who don’t know anything about your industry or company.

  • People might give you a thought to play with or to evaluate, and not necessarily as advice for you to consider. Pay it only as much importance as you think it is worth.

As an entrepreneur, on your journey, you would have many questions to ask and there would be many people to confuse you. You only need to ensure that you accept advice and suggestions from the right people so as to avoid confusion, not add to it. After all, nobody knows your business as well, as you do. Know more about entrepreneurship only at the University Canada West.

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