When an entrepreneur,
even especially successful ones gives you advice, what usually happens is they’ll take a quick look at your business and tell you what they think you should do. They have all good intentions and they really do think that it’s in your best interest.
The problem is that they have extremely limited context. The advice they’re giving you is what worked for them in the past. We’ve all had specific tactics that have worked really well for us in the past. Naturally, when people ask for help, we want to give them advice based on things that worked for us. If something didn’t work, why would we recommend it to you?
Here’s the problem…
Just because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. You have a different product, audience and brand. Even if they’re all very similar, you’re doing it at a different time.
There’s a good chance that it’s actually really bad advice for your specific situation because it will take away your focus on what matters.
The best mentors I’ve had won’t just shell out advice like candy. They’ll spend most of the time learning about the company and the problem at hand, then they’ll talk through possible solutions with me. They make sure they understand the full context before giving advice.
That’s why psychiatrists will spend the majority of the time asking questions. It gives them context into the real problem, and by making you talk through it there’s a good chance you’ll come to your own conclusions.
Even still, there’s a good chance it will be bad advice. The reality is, no one knows in the intricacies of your business as well as you do. There are times when having a fresh perspective can be useful. And any advice can always inspire an idea. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that all advice is good advice if it’s coming from someone who has proven to be successful.
That’s just not the case.
Here’s my advice (which you should probably ignore):
Listen to all advice.
Let it inspire you.
Don’t assume it’s good.
Actually, assume it’s bad.
Ignore bad advice.
Do what makes sense for your specific problem.
If you’re stuck, ask for advice.
Rinse and repeat.
And if you’re a mentor, focus on asking the right questions instead of trying to find the solution yourself.