In the grand theatre of business advice, there are shining stars that illuminate our path to success, and then there are those that, well, don’t. They’re more like black holes, sucking in unsuspecting entrepreneurs with their gravitational pull of confidence, only to spit them out into a universe of confusion, regret, and facepalms. Welcome, dear reader, to our compilation of bad business advice ever received by the brave souls in our network. This is not just a list, but a cautionary tale, a comedic relief, and a testament to the fact that sometimes, wisdom lies in knowing what advice not to follow. So, buckle up and prepare for a journey through the galaxy of misguided counsel. Who knows? You might just find a nugget of anti-wisdom you’ve been unwittingly holding onto. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Do what you love and the money will come
“Do what you love and the money will come,” they said. It’s a piece of advice as old as time, whispered in the ears of starry-eyed entrepreneurs as they embark on their business journeys. It’s a beautiful sentiment, really. The idea that passion is the magical key that unlocks the treasure chest of wealth. But here’s the plot twist: running a business isn’t just about doing what you love. It’s also about doing a lot of things you probably don’t love.
Let’s say you love making artisanal candles. You love the scent of the wax, the tranquility of the flame, the satisfaction of creating something beautiful. So, you start a business. But soon, you realize that running a candle business isn’t just about making candles. It’s about marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, and so much more. Suddenly, you’re not just a candle-maker, you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
And what happens if you stick to the “do what you love” mantra, ignoring the other aspects of your business? Well, you end up with a house full of artisanal candles, a dwindling bank account, and a newfound identity as a broke hoarder. You’re not running a business, you’re running a candle sanctuary.
So, while it’s important to love what you do, remember that business is a multifaceted beast. Don’t let your passion blind you to the realities of running a business. After all, even the most beautiful flame needs a solid candle to burn.
“It sounds warm and fuzzy. But it’s a flat out lie. It may come, but at best it’s an over simplification to something complex.” – Tab Pierce
Just copy what everyone else is doing
“Just copy what everyone else is doing,” they said. It’s the business equivalent of “monkey see, monkey do.” It’s like being at a party where everyone is doing the Macarena, and you join in because, well, everyone else is doing it. But here’s the thing: business isn’t a dance party, and you’re not a monkey.
Sure, there’s merit to observing successful competitors and learning from their strategies. It’s smart to model certain aspects of their systems. After all, why reinvent the wheel when you can just borrow someone else’s? But there’s a fine line between modeling and mimicking.
Let’s say you’re in the online marketing world, and you decide to “funnel hack” your way to success. You copy your competitor’s sales funnel, word for word, pixel for pixel. But here’s the plot twist: your audience isn’t stupid. They can smell a copycat from a mile away. And when they do, your credibility goes down the drain faster than you can say “but everyone else was doing it!”
Copying what everyone else is doing is like wearing someone else’s clothes. Sure, it might fit, but it’s not really you. And in the end, people can tell.
So, by all means, learn from others. Model the aspects of their success that align with your vision. But remember to infuse it with your unique flavor. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, or to play your own game as Dan Nicholson would say. After all, in the business world, originality isn’t just refreshing, it’s essential.
Haley Shane recently made a post that I would like to quote here…
“If you bake a cake no one says that if you didn’t get the eggs from chickens you raised, or milk from a cow you milked, that you didn’t actually bake a cake.
Of course you baked that cake.
What isn’t considered baking a cake is going to a bakery, buying a cake, coming home and saying “I made this cake. It’s amazing. This is my creation”
But you can’t tell everyone that you’re gonna take bakery jobs with this method.
This isn’t about cakes.”
So just make sure you stick to playing your own game.
You’re only one funnel away
Ah, the old “You’re only one funnel away” chestnut. It’s a phrase that’s been bandied about so much in the online marketing world, it’s practically a mantra. It’s the business equivalent of “You’re only one lottery ticket away from being a millionaire.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? But let’s take a moment to dissect this piece of advice.
As Scott Lucas, a seasoned marketer, puts it, “If you really want to get technical it’s really two or more funnels. So the whole saying ‘You’re only one funnel away’…No…You’re really not. You’re multiple funnels away. You have to make multiple funnels just to learn the concept of a funnel and there is still testing involved.”
Scott’s got a point. A sales funnel isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s not a magic wand you wave to instantly transform leads into customers. It’s a process, a journey, a… well, a funnel. And like any good funnel, it’s got multiple stages.
“Now, if look at a funnel it actually has a dual core concept. It’s actually 2 funnels in one,” Scott continues. “If you want to get technical your funnel is made to secure an opt-in and to have an order form. These are 2 different funnels if you want to get technical so it’s not accurate to say you’re one funnel away. When to really make something automated it is a combination of multiple funnels that create a system.”
The next time someone tells you “You’re only one funnel away,” remember Scott’s words. Yes, a well-crafted sales funnel is a powerful tool. But it’s not a silver bullet. It’s a system, a combination of multiple funnels, each with its own purpose and strategy. So, in reality, you’re not just one funnel away. You’re a whole system of funnels away. But hey, who’s counting?
No one ever makes money doing that
Ah, the timeless classic, “Nobody ever makes money doing that.” It’s the kind of advice that’s usually served up by well-meaning friends, family, or that one guy at the bar who’s had one too many and suddenly thinks he’s a Wall Street tycoon. It’s a phrase that’s been used to discourage countless entrepreneurs from pursuing their dreams. But let’s take a moment to dissect this piece of advice.
Take the story of Michael McGrail, network marketer and integrative health coach. This individual took a path less traveled, starting with a supplement that worked for them, getting curious about why it worked, and then getting certified. When they shared their plans, they were met with the discouraging words, “Nobody ever makes money doing that, you may as well quit while you’re ahead.”
But did they listen? No. They chose to march to the beat of their own drum, and it paid off. As they put it, “I’ve made well over $100,000 since then. I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people. I committed to making money with something outside of the norm and I’m still growing because of the business model and work that I’ve put in. If I had taken the advice of others at face value, I would be in a completely different place with my finances and my health.”
So, the next time you hear the words “Nobody ever makes money doing that,” remember this story. Just because others can’t see the potential, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It just means they haven’t figured it out yet. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to prove them wrong.
Build it and they will come
Another thought contributed by Scott Lucas, “Build it and they will come” sounds great in theory but does not generally pay off in practice. This is not the Field of Dreams.
In an article by Edward Hertzman on Entrepreneur, he humorously recounts his own experience with the misguided advice, “Build it and they will come.” Drawing parallels to the movie Field of Dreams, Hertzman explains that having a great idea or product doesn’t guarantee consumers will discover or buy it. He states, “Great ideas without equally great promotion are as good as non-existent.”
Hertzman shares his own journey of launching a startup with a $100,000 check, only to find that building a fancy website with all the right bells and whistles wasn’t enough to attract traffic. He admits, “I built it, and they did not come.” After pouring every dollar into the site and continuously trying to perfect it, he realized too late the importance of search engine optimization, marketing, and most importantly, having a product people actually needed.
In his second venture, Hertzman took a different approach. Instead of focusing on aesthetics, he focused on proving the concept and then scaling it. He created a product that people needed and didn’t wait for them to come. He brought his product to them. This time, his venture was successful.
Hertzman’s story serves as a cautionary tale against the advice “Build it and they will come.” It emphasizes the importance of not just creating a great product, but also effectively promoting it and ensuring it’s something that consumers actually need. As Hertzman puts it, “Do not wait for the people to come because you could be waiting a long time. Knock down the proverbial door and keep going.”
Just do it yourself
In the world of startups, there’s a certain romanticism attached to the idea of the lone wolf entrepreneur, bravely forging ahead on their own. However, as former pro snowboarder and business acquisition expert Jeff Lavin points out, this can be a recipe for disaster.
Lavin, who has firsthand experience in the startup world as the owner of Wi-Mi Snowboards, warns against the advice of “going in alone.” He states, “Startups and bootstrapping is really kind of a nightmare when you can do outside capital raises or just collectively form groups over going at it alone. A lot of the solopreneur stuff preaches about going in alone and how you can go faster but there is no long-term sustainability. It doesn’t even mitigate any risks, actually, it’s maximizing your risk.”
In other words, while going solo might seem like a fast track to success, it’s more like a one-way ticket to Burnoutville, with a layover in Financial Ruin. Not exactly the dream destination for most entrepreneurs.
Instead, Lavin suggests forming groups or seeking outside capital. This not only spreads the risk but also brings in a diversity of ideas and skills that can help the business thrive in the long term. So, the next time someone tells you to go at it alone, remember the words of Lavin and consider if you might be better off joining a pack instead of trying to be a lone wolf. After all, even wolves hunt in packs.
Fake it till you make it
Ah, “Fake it till you make it,” the mantra of every struggling actor waiting tables in Hollywood. It’s a phrase that’s been adopted by many an entrepreneur, often with disastrous results. And for that, we can thank Ty Valkanas for bringing this dubious piece of advice to our attention.
The idea behind “Fake it till you make it” is that if you act successful, success will eventually come. It’s a nice thought, but in reality, it’s about as effective as trying to win an Oscar by pretending you’re Meryl Streep. Sure, you might fool a few people, but at the end of the day, you’re still not Meryl Streep.
In the business world, “faking it” can lead to a host of problems. It can result in overpromising and underdelivering, damaging your reputation and relationships with customers. It can also lead to financial trouble if you’re spending money you don’t have in an attempt to look successful.
Instead of “faking it,” a better approach is to be honest about where you are and work hard to improve. It might not be as glamorous as pretending to be a big shot, but in the long run, it’s a lot more likely to lead to real success. So, the next time someone tells you to “fake it till you make it,” remember that in business, as in Hollywood, the best performances are rooted in truth.
Burn the ships
Ah, “Burn the ships,” a phrase that conjures up images of daring explorers, cutting off their only means of retreat to commit fully to their mission. It’s a dramatic, romantic notion, isn’t it? But as a piece of business advice, it’s about as practical as a chocolate teapot. For this fiery gem, we have Rico Wilson to thank, even though Facebook was concerned he might be inciting a maritime arson spree.
The idea behind “Burn the ships” is that by eliminating your plan B, you force yourself to succeed at plan A. It’s a high-stakes, all-or-nothing approach that can certainly add a sense of urgency to your endeavors. But in the world of business, it’s often a recipe for disaster.
Burning your ships leaves you with no room for error, no safety net, and no way out if things go south. It’s a strategy that can lead to unnecessary stress, hasty decision-making, and, in the worst-case scenario, total failure.
In reality, having a backup plan isn’t a sign of weakness or lack of commitment—it’s smart business. It allows you to take calculated risks, learn from your mistakes, and pivot when necessary. So, the next time someone advises you to “burn the ships,” remember that a good entrepreneur knows when to fight on and when to beat a strategic retreat. After all, it’s hard to run a successful business if you’ve already set it ablaze.
Sleep when you make it to the top
Ah, the old adage, “Sleep when you’re at the top.” It’s a phrase that’s been thrown around in the business world for years, suggesting that sleep is a luxury that only those who have ‘made it’ can afford. But according to sleep expert Robin Westerlund, this piece of advice is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.
Robin’s automatic response when he hears this from people is a wake-up call in itself: “Please tell me more about how weakening your immune system, cognitive development, willpower, decision-making and memory plus killing yourself in advance makes you a better leader, entrepreneur and role model.”
The truth is, sleep isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. It’s not a hindrance to success, but a critical component of it. Skimping on sleep doesn’t make you a hard worker; it makes you a less effective one. Lack of sleep can lead to poor decision-making, decreased productivity, and even serious health problems.
So, the next time you hear someone say, “Sleep when you’re at the top,” remember Robin’s words. Success isn’t about burning the candle at both ends; it’s about finding a balance that allows you to perform at your best. Because let’s face it, no one wants to make it to the top only to be too exhausted to enjoy the view.
If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life
Ah, the sweet, sweet siren song of passion. “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” they say. It’s a sentiment as old as time, and on the surface, it seems like a dream come true. But, much like the Sirens of Greek mythology, this piece of advice can lead you onto the rocks if you’re not careful.
The truth is, even if you’re head over heels in love with what you do, there will still be days when it feels like work. Why? Because it is work. There’s no getting around it. Running a business isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not just about doing the “sexy” parts that you love. It’s also about making tough calls, sitting through endless meetings, dealing with marketing and sales, and so much more.
The reality is, even the most passionate love affair with your work will have its ups and downs. There will be days when you’re on cloud nine, and there will be days when you’re in the trenches. And that’s okay. It’s all part of the journey.
So, the next time someone tells you, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” take it with a grain of salt. Love what you do, by all means. But remember, it’s okay to acknowledge the work involved. After all, even the gods of Olympus had their off days.
Don’t use debt
In the realm of business advice, there’s a certain maxim that echoes through the halls like the haunting melody of Orpheus’ lyre: “Don’t use debt.” It’s a phrase that’s been passed down through generations, much like the tales of Greek heroes who triumphed against all odds, armed with nothing but their courage and resourcefulness. But like the tragic tale of Orpheus, who lost his beloved Eurydice due to a single moment of doubt, this piece of advice can lead to unforeseen consequences.
Debt, in the world of business, is not a Cerberus to be feared and avoided at all costs. Rather, it’s a tool, like the mighty Zeus’ thunderbolt, that can be wielded to powerful effect when used wisely. There’s a chasm of difference between frivolous debt accrued from reckless spending and strategic debt used to fuel growth and expansion. The former is akin to the hubris of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky. The latter, however, is the mark of a savvy businessperson who understands the power of leverage.
Collen Tatum, a successful entrepreneur, shares a poignant tale that illustrates this point. “Startups and bootstrapping is really kind of a nightmare when you can do outside capital raises or just collectively form groups over going at it alone,” Tatum reflects. Despite their business making multiple millions in revenue a year, the lack of a line of credit severely hindered their growth and recovery during a catastrophic event.
“A lot of people were really proud of us for doing it with no debt but looking back it really crippled our growth,” Tatum admits. In 2016, their city was ravaged by a wildfire, leading to a significant loss of revenue. “Even though we were in hyper-growth mode and we were doubling our revenue year over year, I always wonder how much better we could have been if we had secured some good lines of credit and been able to bring on salespeople, a CFO, or some higher-level help to help us become not just a small business but a medium or large enterprise.”
So, the next time you hear the phrase “Don’t use debt,” remember the tale of Collen Tatum. Consider the potential benefits of strategic debt, and how it could help your business rise from the ashes, much like the mythical Phoenix. After all, even the greatest Greek heroes had their patrons among the gods, providing them with the resources they needed to achieve their epic feats. In the world of business, a line of credit might just be the divine intervention you need.
You’re too young
In the pantheon of terrible business advice, there’s a particular gem that’s as old as Chronos himself: “You’re just too young.” It’s a phrase that’s been used to dismiss the ambitions of many a young entrepreneur, much like the ancient Greek gods who underestimated their younger counterparts, only to be overthrown by them.
But in the world of business, as in the world of Greek mythology, youth is not a weakness, but a strength. It’s a time of boundless energy, fresh perspectives, and a willingness to take risks. It’s a time when the world is full of possibilities, and the only limits are those we impose on ourselves.
Take Caleb Blair, for instance. While others his age were still figuring out their career paths, Caleb was selling $150,000 kitchen remodels. Or consider Taylor Harrell, who, at the tender age of 16, was securing brand partnerships with titans of industry like Tito’s Vodka, Dos Equis, and Chevy. By the time she was 18, she was working with the Lively brand, proving that age is no barrier to success.
And let’s not forget about Kyler Gifford, who was just 22 years old when he became the top-producing agent in his office, with a little help from our founder. Like the young hero Theseus, who defeated the mighty Minotaur against all odds, these young entrepreneurs have proven that age is just a number.
So, the next time someone tells you that you’re too young to succeed in business, remember the tales of Caleb, Taylor, and Kyler. Remember that the gods of business, like the gods of Olympus, are not immune to being overthrown by a younger generation. And remember that, in the words of the great philosopher Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Just double your prices cause you’re worth it
In the realm of questionable business advice, there’s a piece that’s as tempting as Pandora’s box: “Just double your prices, you’re worth it.” It’s a phrase that’s often uttered with the best of intentions, much like the gods who gifted Pandora her infamous box. But just like that ill-fated gift, this advice can unleash a host of unforeseen problems.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Recognizing your worth and charging accordingly is crucial in business. After all, as the saying goes, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” But simply doubling your prices without a strategic plan is akin to opening Pandora’s box without considering the consequences.
Yes, your services might be worth double their current price, but will your clients see it that way? Have you built enough value and trust to justify a sudden price increase? Or will this move send your clients running for the hills, leaving you with a handful of invoices and an empty client roster?
Doubling your prices isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. It requires careful consideration, strategic planning, and clear communication with your clients. It’s not about simply declaring your worth, but demonstrating it. So, before you go doubling your prices, make sure you’re prepared for what might come out of the box. After all, as the myth of Pandora teaches us, once it’s opened, there’s no going back.
Always be closing
In the epic Odyssey of business advice, there’s one phrase that sings out like a siren’s song: “Always be closing.” It’s a mantra that’s been passed down through generations of salespeople, echoing through boardrooms and call centers alike. But just like the sirens of Greek mythology, this advice can lead you astray if you’re not careful.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Closing is a crucial part of the sales process. Without it, you’re just having a nice chat. But the idea of “always be closing” can lead to a quantity-over-quality mindset. You might end up chasing every potential deal, regardless of whether it’s a good fit for your business. And as anyone who’s dealt with a problem client knows, some deals cost more than they pay.
Enter Dan Nicholson, a voice of reason in the cacophony of sales advice. Nicholson advocates for a different approach: focusing on closing the right deals, not just closing more deals. It’s about getting closer to what you really want, not just getting more. After all, Odysseus didn’t try to visit every island in the Aegean Sea. He had a clear destination in mind and navigated his journey accordingly.
So, the next time you hear the siren song of “always be closing,” remember the tale of Odysseus and the wisdom of Dan Nicholson. Plug your ears with wax, tie yourself to the mast, and stay focused on your destination. Because in business, as in Greek mythology, not all that glitters is gold.
Marketing and sales are all that matter
In the world of business advice, there’s a hydra that keeps rearing its heads: “Marketing and sales are all that matter.” It’s a beast of a statement, one that seems to grow two more heads for every one that’s cut off. But like Heracles, the hero of Greek mythology who eventually defeated the hydra, we need to tackle this beast with a clear strategy and a bit of fire.
Now, there’s no denying that marketing and sales are crucial to any business. They’re the front-line warriors, the ones who bring in the customers and the revenue. But they’re just two parts of a much larger picture. To focus on them alone is to ignore the rest of the team, the unsung heroes who keep the business running smoothly.
In reality, a successful business stands on seven pillars, not just two. Alongside marketing and sales, there’s fulfillment, retention, HR and company culture, finance, and legal. Each pillar plays a vital role in supporting the business, much like the pillars of the ancient Parthenon supporting its magnificent structure.
Fulfillment ensures that your products or services are delivered to the highest standard. Retention keeps your customers coming back for more. HR and company culture create a positive and productive work environment. Finance keeps the cash flowing and the lights on. And legal protects you from potential pitfalls and liabilities.
So, the next time you hear the hydra of “marketing and sales are all that matter” hissing in your ear, remember the tale of Heracles and the wisdom of the seven pillars. Don’t let the beast distract you from the bigger picture. Because in business, as in Greek mythology, it takes more than a couple of heroes to win the day.
Any Publicity is Good Publicity
In the realm of business advice, there’s a saying that has been passed down like a golden nugget of wisdom: “Any publicity is good publicity.” This advice, much like King Midas’ wish in Greek mythology, can turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing.
In the tale of King Midas, he wished for everything he touched to turn to gold. Initially, this seemed like a fantastic boon, but he soon realized the downside when he turned his food, drink, and even his beloved daughter into gold. Similarly, the pursuit of any and all publicity, without discernment, can lead businesses into a golden trap.
While publicity can indeed raise your profile and bring attention to your brand, it’s crucial to remember that not all publicity is beneficial. Negative publicity can tarnish your reputation, alienate your customers, and have long-term detrimental effects on your business. The companies that have weathered public scandals or backlash can attest to this. They may have been in the spotlight, but the glare was far from comfortable.
Instead of wishing for the Midas touch of any publicity, it’s wiser to navigate towards positive, meaningful opportunities to share your story and connect with your audience. This could be through thought leadership, community engagement, or simply delivering an exceptional product or service.
So, the next time you hear “any publicity is good publicity,” remember the tale of King Midas and choose your wishes wisely. Because in business, as in Greek mythology, some wishes are better left unmade.
In the ancient world, the Greeks sought wisdom from the Oracle of Delphi, a revered figure believed to be the mouthpiece of Apollo, the god of prophecy. However, in the modern world of business, advice comes not from a single oracle but from a multitude of sources – mentors, peers, books, online articles, and even well-meaning friends and family.
While this abundance of advice can be a boon, it can also be a labyrinth as intricate as the one that housed the Minotaur in Greek mythology. The challenge lies not just in navigating this labyrinth, but in discerning the sound advice from the misleading, the timeless wisdom from the fleeting trends, and the genuine insights from the well-intentioned but misguided suggestions.
As we’ve seen from the examples in this article, not all advice that glitters is gold. Some pieces of advice, like the sirens’ song, may sound appealing but lead to rocky shores. Others, like the myth of Icarus, may encourage us to fly too close to the sun and ignore the essential aspects of our business. And some, like the tale of King Midas, remind us that what initially seems like a blessing can turn out to be a curse.
So, as you continue your entrepreneurial odyssey, remember to approach business advice with the discernment of Odysseus, the wisdom of Athena, and the caution of those who have navigated the labyrinth before you. Seek advice that aligns with your values, resonates with your vision, and contributes to your unique journey. Because in the world of business, as in Greek mythology, the right guidance can make all the difference between an epic saga and a tragic tale.