The Value and Pitfalls of Advice

by J.J.
(Denver, CO)

<i> The best startup business advice I can give you is to listen cautiously to the business advice given by well-meaning family and friends.</i>

The best startup business advice I can give you is to listen cautiously to the business advice given by well-meaning family and friends.

Starting a business is one of the most rewarding and frustrating activities to undertake.

I have been involved in the start-up of five of them and am undertaking number six as I write this.

  • The first was a simple single operator - I provided information to the advertising industry - reading up and locating articles as background.

  • The second was a social network business offering women an empowered method of initiating contact with men

  • The third one was the aerospace static neutralizer;

  • The fourth one was a gift basket shop

  • The fifth one was greeting card publishing.

And...regardless of which business I undertake, the one consistently never-fail frustration I always meet is...a proliferation of well-meaning "advice" from my beloved family and friends.

There is so much advice.

All of it well meant...but (as you might imagine) none of it is good advice.

Most of this well-meaning advice points often to those products and service that you do not offer...

And most often, it points to those products or services that you can't really even afford to offer.

So...what is the solution...just what are my recommendations for dealing with all of this well-meaning (but bad) business advice from family, friends and associates?

The best startup business advice I can give you is to recognize that the advice that they are giving you is simply their opinion.

It's their way of letting you in what they would do if they were in your shoes.

It's their way of helping you along, their way of wishing you success.

So do consider it - but don't let it change your basic plan - unless you first research the suggestion.

The best startup business advice I can give you is to take their opinion and filter it down into relevant components to determine if it actually as merit.

Oh, and here's an strong area where advice is always given...


One piece of trite advice you will hear ad-nauseam is:

"Looking for a name...then call it what it is."


(That may go to clarity.)

But, when it comes to naming: stop and think...

  • What was Coke?

    • Do you call it Brown Carbonated Beverage?

  • Had anyone ever heard of much less used a Kleenex?

    • Paper handkerchief?

  • No - the brand names became symbolic of the product.

Many great businesses that have come before us offer us a hint on how to make strategic decisions as they relate to naming our product or service.

Naming is less about the "looking for a name? then call it what it is" type of advice that we normally get from our family and friends...

Naming (and all other decisions that factor into starting a new business) is more about making THAT set of strategic decisions for our business that will propel it toward it's greatness.

(Of course naming your product or service for your favorite literary or film character or place may not take you to the right conceptualization by consumers either.)

And, in using those names you must be sure to avoid any trademark or copyright violations.

Still... if you are marketing carrot juice - Benjamin Bunny or Peter Rabbit might be just the spokesperson for you.

So the bottom-line advice here is: listen to everyone...but consider what is said.

If someone loves your product...fantastic!

  • Ask that person what they love.

  • Ask that person how much (truthfully) they would pay.

  • Ask that person if it something they have seen in another form somewhere else.

Now that is valuable information...and the advice they offer may give you some important part of the marketing picture that you can use. yourself this favor: research - listen, think and process the information fully.

That's the best startup business advice I can give you in regards to how to treat such well-meaning advice-givers.

Many people will offer you the suggestions for changing the product to suit them better.

If you hear the suggestion repeated - it has more merit.

The more often it is repeated - the more it must mean to you.

If however, everyone wants you to add this or that - and there is no consensus?

Then, keep it as it is.

The whole point is to listen with care.

Advice (even this) is only as good as the use to which you can put it.

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