What is the worst piece of business advice you have ever received?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
A. 'That Won't Work'
Be careful who you take advice from. Just because someone has been successful in one particular walk of life doesn't mean they know about all business models. It's easy for a person who doesn't understand your ideas and thoughts to shoot them down for one reason or another. It's your job to validate your ideas by talking directly with potential customers.
- Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
A. 'Stick With Your Degree'
Everyone thinks that if you stick with your professional degree, you'll be automatically successful. But skills are transferrable, and degrees should not define you.
- Benish Shah, Before the Label
A. 'Fire Your Team'
I once had an investor advise me to fire our entire team and close down an office. This would have been a disaster because they were on the eve of launching a product that later brought us significant success. Fortunately, we took the time to get to the root of our challenges and how our team would help us solve them. It turned out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding.
- Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.
A. 'Write a Business Plan'
Startups are like a seek-and-destroy mission. You can only plan so much in advance. What you need are really smart, hard-working and team-oriented people who can think on their feet and adjust to what signals users send your way.
- Jordan Fliegel,
A. 'Don't Tell People Your Age'
As a two young female entrepreneurs, my business partner Brittany and I realize we are a rare breed. Someone told us early on that we should never disclose our age because we would "never be taken seriously." Some of the biggest names in innovation are well under the age of 40. I believe good ideas, no matter who they come from, trump anyone's birth year.
- Kim Kaupe, 'ZinePak
A. 'Business Isn't Personal'
Everyone has heard the phrase, "It's not personal; it's business." Yet I found that to be as far from reality as it gets. It is personal. Business is, after all, about people. When you start and run a business, you deal with people constantly, whether it's your partners, investors, employees or customers. Like it or not, their psyche, emotions, personal ambitions, etc., come into play.
- Panos Panay, Sonicbids
A. 'You Have to Offer the Lowest Prices'
Retail entrepreneurs think they need to price their products lower than their competition to earn business. This strategy is not sustainable because profit margins will constantly be shrinking; someone out there is always willing to cut his margins lower than you. Instead, price your products at fair market value, and provide additional value/service to your customers to differentiate.
- Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
A. 'Keep Working Hard, and Eventually You'll See Success'
I worked hard for several years, and I was doing nothing more than spinning my wheels. It wasn't until I started working smart that I achieved success.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
A. 'It Won't Work if You Do It That Way'
Just because you don't do things the way others in your industry are doing them doesn't mean you are wrong and will be unsuccessful. Part of standing out from the crowd is being different, so embrace your differences, and do what works best for your business.
- Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group
A. 'It's Better to Be Feared Than Loved'
I had someone tell me the way I was interacting with some of my 20,000-plus independent contractors was too friendly and that they would take advantage of me. In fact, it is our personal connection to them and genuinely caring about their individual goals and dreams that has helped us build one of the strongest networks of marketers for hire in the U.S. You catch more bees with honey.
- Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency
A. 'If You Build It, They Will Come'
The worst advice EVER is "If you build it, they will come." We all know the phrase "the best thing since sliced bread," but in reality, even sliced bread took almost 20 years from when it was invented before it was commercially adapted because of latent customer adoption and misinformation. Don't make the mistake of being naive or overconfident. There are a lot of factors that come into play.
- Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize
A. 'Never Say No'
When I was first starting out, I heard from more seasoned entrepreneurs how they feared telling a client they couldn't take on work because the client might not come back to them. But in my experience, I've found the exact opposite to be true. Clients like working with you and respect you when you're upfront about what you can and can't do and consistently deliver quality work on time.
- Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®
A. 'It Was Your Idea, So Keep 90 Percent'
A respected business leader once told me that because it was my idea, I should keep 90 percent of the company and only share 10 percent with co-founders. In the early stages, I believe equity should be split more fairly among co-founders because they often make or break the company. I would have much rather taken half the equity and been surrounded by devoted co-founders with skin in the game.
- Heidi Allstop, Spill