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A common trait among most successful entrepreneurs is their willingness to observe and learn from the experiences of others. In doing so, they can avoid many of the painful and unnecessary mistakes that are faced by newly launched entrepreneurial ventures, and focus instead on establishing long-term and sustainable growth.
While all advice may be valuable to a certain degree, it’s important to remember that the individuals who are giving that advice often derived their experiences from different contexts and circumstances. With this in mind, you should remember that those contexts may not necessarily apply to the vision that you have established for your business, and then decide whether that advice will actually help you, or if it might actually set you back.
We spoke to a few different startup entrepreneurs at different stages in their career and asked them what was the worst advice that they have received. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Expand Before Your Ready
The worst entrepreneurial advice I have received was to “expand before I obtained sustainability.” The worst thing you can do is attempt to grow before you are ready. Now that AskforTask has a successful, stable growing engagement, we are looking at expanding into new markets.
— Muneeb Mushtaq, AskforTask
2. Hire a Corporate Advisor
I was told I should “use a corporate advisor for early-stage investment rounds.” However, I learned that when you are raising your first angel or seed round, only you can sell your story to investors.
— Tessa Court, IntelligenceBank
3. Build and They Will Come
I recall a retired CEO telling me “If you build it, they will come.” This is true if your business is part of a long-established brand, however, for most startups, marketing strategy is the most critical component. This is especially true since there are so many avenues to remove budget including Adwords, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook ads, and so on. In the early days of your business, a combination of marketing and hustle is required to generate interest and growth.
— Robert Sturt, UK MPLS Procurement Expert
4. Get an Office
I don’t even know where to start because I have received so much bad advice. It might be to “get yourself and your team in an office.” This is wrong, especially if you are in software-related business. What is essential at the end of the day is the outcome of your team, and your job as the CEO is to get this outcome. If your team works better in their own bedrooms, then let them be wherever they want to be. Your job is to find these kinds of responsible and self-disciplined people who enjoy what they do anyway. If you give enough freedom and right direction, the outcome will be way more than being in the office all week long.
— John Kagit, Socialeyes
5. Ignore Cashflow
“Don’t worry about cashflow, just grow you user base and profit and investment will follow.”
— Justin Ashurst, COO and CTO, AppInstitute
6. Keep Your Head Down
“You need to be heads down.” The reality is that you always need to be heads up. Being heads up allows you to pay attention: monitor changing landscapes, listen to the market, and adapt your strategy as needed.
— Kevin Holmes, Founders Network
7. Only Focus on the Product
“Focus exclusively on the product.” It’s wrong because distribution is equally important.
— Preet Anand, Bluelight
8. Expect the Best Case Scenario
“Take your highest revenue month of the year and multiple that number by 12 to estimate your expected annual gross revenue.” As we all know there is no truth to this suggestion. Each day within each month and each month within the year is unique and affected by an almost unlimited number of expected and unexpected variables.
— Tim Nichols, ExactDrive