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I know. I’m not being positive, but I really hate entrepreneurs who never pay for advice.
For a while, I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind about people who want something for nothing.
Need an answer to a simple question — don’t do the research.
Ask a newbie their opinion — you accept their response as fact. Again, you don’t research.
Making a serious and important business decision — talked with an associate…but didn’t do research.
You take everyone’s input as gospel, do what they recommend, and then fault them when you fail. You don’t blame yourself for not doing your research or seeking professional advice. Why ask the masses instead of contracting with a personal or business coach? Oh, I know, because advice from the masses is free!
But, is it?
What if we accept someone’s FREE advice, use it and fail? Worse yet, what if you lose money and your credibility in the process?
Was the advice really free? Have you paid a high price for the destruction of your self-esteem and respect in your chosen industry?
You be the judge.
Some time ago, a person, I’ll call Maryann, asked a business associate for advice regarding launching a new business venture.
Maryann sought Jo’s (the friend) opinion because Jo was very active in her local networking group and was an entrepreneur in the same field. However, unbeknownst to Maryann, Jo was having a difficult time and going through a “business crisis”. Jo lied to Maryann and said, “Business is great. It’s a growing industry and you will definitely prosper in it.”
Stay with me here.
Now, don’t get ahead of the story. Maryann did a little bit more research by asking a few more networkers for their opinions. She continued to receive rave reviews and told; “go for it”. Trying to save money and time, she chose to listen to her friends who appeared to be doing well in their businesses.
One person suggested she seek professional advice, contract a coach, and then make her decisions.
Maryann laughed at this advice and chose not to make the investment or seek qualified, professional advice.
Beaming from ear to ear, trusting associates’ advice, Maryann ventured into unchartered waters. She quit her job and started her fledgling business. She stepped out on faith and opened her doors, expecting business to “rush in”.
Maryann made every mistake imaginable. She wasn’t prepared, found out she didn’t know much about the business side of her idea and became the joke of her new industry.
If Maryann had spent just a little bit of money, and researched experts in her field she may have had a better outcome.
Do the work and stop asking for free advice
It’s not all about the money…Maryann could have done the following:
- Identified experts and approached a few and told them she had limited funds
- Offered to serve an apprenticeship or internship in exchange for mentoring or coaching
- Served as a volunteer for a program or cause associated with the new business
- Made connections with individuals in leadership roles.
- Conducted extensive research about the business, so she, at a minimum, was able to build a foundation for the new company.
- Write a business plan and marketing strategy, before approaching friends and associates.
Because she didn’t do any of the above, she has no clients, no contracts and little knowledge. But, she did have a pocketbook full of FREE advice.
The moral of the story? As Evan Carmichael – @EvanCarmichael suggests, In life, ask yourself questions and get answers.
But, don’t just ask everyone you know for advice. Seek out experienced and successful professionals.
How do you determine their level of experience – Check their credentials.
Are they talking the talk, but more important, walking the walk? For example, everyone who has a college degree is not smart. The degree signifies they completed the curriculum and passed the exams. Did they apply their knowledge and have a “thriving business”?
Don’t take everything at face value. People with many years of working their business have “in the trenches” knowledge and experience.
Everything is not as it appears.
Everyone who says they are an experienced trainer, coach or mentor, isn’t. Some have placed a shingle on their Internet front door, waiting for you to come knocking.
Remember, in life, we all pay!
We pay for gas, electricity, food, clothing – you get the picture. So if you want advice, based on experience and a proven track record, don’t be afraid to pay for it.
Enroll in classes, or mini-courses. Read recommended books. Contract with a professional coach who works in the same industry. Ask questions, and listen to experienced people respected in their field.
By retaining a coach/mentor that has a proven record, you’ll have a better chance for a profitable business. Then, you will stop being the entrepreneur I hate that never pays for advice.
Sharon Williams, MVA, PREVA, is president of The 24 Hour Secretary and provides administrative, secretarial, marketing and internet-based virtual support for successful but sometimes overwhelmed executives and entrepreneurs. Subscribe to Smart Business = Success, the free monthly ezine stocked with business tips for the busy professional. Contact Sharon by email.
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