I was chatting via text messages this evening to Casual Marketer Subscriber, Cate Richards and she said something about her primary day-to-day business that really resonated with me. Cate said that she tends not to talk much to people about her business because everybody lines up and tells her what she’s doing wrong or giving her bad advice.
I’ve written about “The High Cost Of Bad Advice” right back at the beginning with Casual Marketer, but today I want to take that a bit further.
Cate’s primary business is pretty successful and she built it herself through hard work, some trial and error and by focusing on delivering a high-quality service to customers. She has some seriously impressive processes for turning around client requests, following up leads and being responsive to her clients. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a bit up close how she runs that part of her business and it’s obvious why it’s successful.
However, despite all of that success, she’s learned that when she discusses her business with “wantrepreneurs” she gets inundated with unsolicited terrible advice. Everyone tells her how she can do this better or grow faster doing that.
And the funny part is, those people in 99% of the cases are nowhere near as successful as she is! I’ve seen it first hand – people earning less than 5% of what she brings in with her business offering her “advice” she didn’t ask for that would actually end up hurting her.
As I said to her this evening, it’s some of the most toxic stuff out there: unsolicited advice from stupid, broke people.
Cate’s smart enough to have learned to not really talk about her business that much, but also to tune out the muppet brigade and the peanut gallery when they tell her how they’d do things better than her.
That’s not to say that you should just ignore everyone and do whatever the heck you want. There are times when you should solicit some advice from the right people and in the right context. The words, “the right people” and “the right context” are obviously the critical elements to that phrase.
To illustrate my point, I’m going to use Cate as an example again. One thing I like about Cate is that she’s a “measure twice, cut once” kind of person. She plans things out, thinks things through and tries to make sure she knows where she’s going before she embarks on the journey. Like many of us with similar character traits, Cate can occasionally measure 37 times and then measure one more time before starting to cut, but that’s a flaw most of us “planners” can have at times.
While Cate’s not one of my avatars specifically, she’s somebody in one of my “ideal customer” buckets for Casual Marketer. She has an existing business that is successful, she’s has started working on a new side project and she’s prepared to actually knuckle down and do the work.
Most relevant to this discussion is that with her new project, True Entrepreneur, she’s tactically soliciting advice from people who she thinks can help her clarify her thoughts, offer a new perspective and generally be a valuable sounding board. Which is exactly my point above, “the right people” and “the right context” – she’s talking to people who she thinks have a different and possibly better way of thinking about the things she’s working on.
The other important thing to note there is “possibly a better way” does not mean always better – asking smart, successful people for advice about things that they know something about is a good way to accelerate your own growth, but you shouldn’t always blindly follow it either, you need to use your own grey matter sometimes.
As I said though, listening to random unsolicited advice from stupid, broke people is a great way to damage your business.
But why do I specifically refer to these people as “broke”?
Well two reasons really: first of all, they usually are broke. I’m not sure why the correlation exists, but it seems like whenever I see people repeatedly offering advice about how other people should run their business without being asked, those people often don’t have a pot to p*ss in or a window to throw it out of. Maybe they’re broke because their advice is bad and they’re clueless or maybe they’re so busy telling other people how to run their businesses into the ground that they have no time to actually do anything themselves, but either way the correlation exists.
Secondly, I use the word “broke” as a bit of play on words – broke as in broken. When you meet these people, you just push their nose like a button and they spit out bad advice. There’s something about their personality where they simply can’t help themselves but tell other people a better way to do things that they have no idea about. Listening to these broken people will just leave you running around cleaning up the trail of destruction their bad idea tornadoes leave behind.
The big takeaway from this is to be careful about the counsel you seek. You should ignore the unsolicited advice and find the right people to talk to about what you’re doing. Rather than blindly following advice, mull it over and understand the benefits of it – in fact, sell it to yourself before you execute on it. Most importantly though, make sure you’re ignoring the broke mob who have failed to achieve anything for themselves, their stupidity is like a black hole and once you listen to them, you enter the event horizon and you have no ability to escape the intense gravitational force of their idiocy.