Literally everyone has an opinion. It’s easy to assume that others know more than you when you are starting out in business, which can lead to the unwitting acceptance of crappy advice.
I will tell you to hone your self awareness and perform strategic testing until I’m blue in the face, but you’ll still likely end up taking someone’s advice over your own at some point. So, if you are going to do it, let’s at least help you do it right.
1. Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.
This applies to all advice you’ll ever get. If you wouldn’t 100% unequivocally trade places with the person to whom you are accepting advice from: don’t accept their advice.
Their logic has gotten them to where they are—so if you don’t like where they are, don’t start following in their footsteps.
2. Be judgemental.
When accepting business advice from a professional, be judgemental (*be* *be* *judgemental.*)
Judge their website, their business card, their social media, their staff turnover…judge it all. If any component of their business is outdated or poorly executed: be wary.
Sometimes certain components aren’t necessary for the success of their business (for instance, not everyone needs a baller website) so use your noodle. However, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to take advice from someone who has good taste and has pride in their business.
3. It’s not a marathon, it’s a (really, really long) sprint.
Don’t be fooled by established businesses, you don’t know how profitable they are. When you are taking advice from business professionals look for signs of growth and pervasive value.
I’m not talking about reckless ‘business du jour’ kind of growth, I’m talking about happy staff, happy customers and happy sales.
Look for brand love, engagement, positive reviews and expansion. The key with expansion, of course, is that value and quality should not decrease when sales increase. Rapid growth can be just as much a sign of poor business management as stagnant growth.
4. Take advice from an Alpha.
An alpha is calm under pressure and shows healthy and consistent boundaries. Don’t take advice from the “I’m always stressed out” entrepreneur, or the “my staff are disloyal” entrepreneur or the “my competitor is a dick” entrepreneur.
Oh, and the “no, no listen to me” entrepreneur. OH! And the “I’ve been doing business for thiiiirrrrtyyyy yeeearrrrsss, I think I know a thing or two” entrepreneur.
People who give good advice also give space. They don’t try and force their opinion down your ear holes (haha you thought I was going to say throat). People who give good advice will most likely just show you the tools you need to make decisions for yourself.
So, look to the entrepreneur who has things under control (for the most part), who has loyal and happy staff, who speaks positively and supportively in nearly all circumstances and who is oddly humble and fun to talk to. Because ultimately: the quality of someone’s character is an excellent indicator of the quality of the advice they give.
And there you have it. My advice for evaluating advice. I encourage you to use these four principles as you evaluate entrepreneurial books, business podcasts and even our little BS articles.