Entrepreneurship Tips: When to Listen and When to Tune Out

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Everyone seems to have tips for how entrepreneurs can run a successful business. Unfortunately, not all of this advice is well-founded. There are times when you have to learn to tune out bad advice, and when to actually follow good advice. Here are a few people to ignore and a few to whom you should pay the utmost attention. Learn to distinguish between them, and the world will be your oyster.

Ignore: Know-it-Alls

We all know the type, he’s the perfect mixture of loud and charming, and will have you agreeing with him by the end of the conversation. This person seems to be an expert in all topics, from spelunking to childbirth (funny how the man knows more about pregnancy pains than you, a mom of twins, do).

The minute you mention your business venture, he will immediately start offering advice and listing everything you need to do. He definitely talks a lot, but that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s saying. Listen politely and then move on.

Try This: Join a Networking Group

Instead of following the advice from one person who seems to be an expert in a lot of things, join a networking group with lots of people who are experts in a single subject. This way, you can seek out advice from multiple people and get fresh perspectives from others in your field. Consulting multiple people means multiple ideas and solutions to your problems, and you will have a community to collectively grow with.

Ignore: Self Proclaimed Gurus, Rock Stars, and Jedis

The rise of social media has introduced a new breed of business advice columnist: The “expert” who retweets business blog articles and regularly posts vague marketing phrases and general advice. Take this advice with a grain of salt — just because someone calls themselves a “rock star,” that doesn’t mean following them will lead you into the spotlight as well.

Try This: Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

Reach out to someone whose business story and management style you admire, and ask to meet them for coffee. Start to develop a relationship with them and see if he or she will mentor you. A mentor is someone who is familiar with your struggles, and who is able to offer advice based from their own similar situations. That is much more helpful than a few tweets from a self-proclaimed “Jedi,” “guru,” or “ninja.”

Ignore: Anyone at a Family Gathering

When you’re at a wedding or family reunion, relatives will inevitably ask what you do. When you tell them you’re an entrepreneur, everyone from 92 year-old Uncle Bob to 17 year-old Cousin Kim will want to give you advice. Like the Know-it-all, listen politely and then excuse yourself. Don’t mix business with family.

Try This: Seek Out a Higher Education

Don’t rely on Uncle Bob to pass on his business wisdom or ask Cousin Kim to teach you social media marketing. Consider pursuing an online business degree and set a foundation from a qualified source. By getting a degree in something you don’t know much about — like finance, management, or marketing — you will turn a weakness into a strength when running a business.

When you’re first starting out, everyone will have advice for you. If you listen to the right people and tune others out, you’ll be on the path of success and soon will be the one giving out advice to younger entrepreneurs.