Every entrepreneur or hopeful entrepreneur will know that people love to give advice when it comes to opening your own business. Some people have success stories they want to share or failure stories that they feel they need to warn young entrepreneurs about before it's too late. It can be tough to navigate which advice is actually helpful and which advice is more for the person giving it than the person receiving it (you).
You'll take plenty of wrong turns as you start your own business, but it's always better to make your own mistakes than listen to advice that sways you into doing something wrong. The sooner you can identify a few pieces of bad advice, the better.
Consider a list of some of the worst advice out there for entrepreneurs so that you know what to avoid and can make sure you stay on the right path.
1. You have to be less expensive than your competition.
It sounds like good advice, and it is to a certain extent, but if you take this advice at face value it can really bring you down. The reason this advice can be so bad is because it's a natural feeling to think that you have to offer lower prices (at least initially) in order to beat your competition. Your competition is probably established and has a lot going for it, so it makes sense to feel like the only thing you have to offer at the start is lower prices.
In reality, you have to start by pricing your products at a fair price and focus on providing value and good customer service. If you set your prices too low you could eventually find yourself losing money, and it's hard to come back from that by then increasing your prices. You may even run into a situation where another company comes along and offers something similar at an even lower price, so it's best to be realistic and fair right away and not worry about being cheaper than everyone else.
2. Just try and copy your competitors.
If you aren't completely sure where to start, it makes sense to turn to your competitors to see what's working. However, you have to make sure that you're only gaining inspiration and maybe a few ideas from your competition and not stealing their entire business model. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs fall into this trap and think it's going to work. You have to be innovative and you have to stand out from the competition--copying them isn't going to get you anywhere.
3. Keep working hard, and eventually you'll see success.
Ultimately, this can be one of the most frustrating pieces of advice to be given and actually believe. You have to work hard, of course, but you have to make sure you're working smart and constantly being innovative and creative. This is what sets apart entrepreneurs from employees at a company who work hard.
4. Quit your current job so you can give 100 percent.
This is not to say that you shouldn't quit your job, either. This is probably one of the biggest and most nerve-racking decisions you can make when you finally decide to become and entrepreneur, so you really can't take advice from anyone one way or another. You can listen to stories and hear about what worked and didn't work for some people, but ultimately it's up to you. This is always a hard pill to swallow, but it's true. As Forbes explained in one article, "Succeeding in business takes a delicate balance of guts and patience, so don't let anyone else set the pace for you."
5. Be passionate about what you do and they will come.
This advice isn't bad if you take it with a grain of salt, because of course passion is important and is going to help fuel you when you're starting a new business. However, this is usually framed as bad advice because people sometimes act like passion is all that you need for success. Unfortunately, you need a lot more. There will be days when you're not passionate about what you do, but that doesn't mean you should quit. For many, passion can sometimes come and go. Try to be passionate about your business and your customers as opposed to passionate about being an entrepreneur in general. Check out this video from Kiva president Pemal Shah about how he finds the right kind of passion in his work when he doesn't feel passionate.
In the end, you have to be skeptical about whatever advice you might be hearing. Sometimes advice isn't necessarily bad, but it's not the best for your specific business and situation. Hear what others have to say about their experiences, but always keep a weary eye and be able to differentiate between good advice and advice that was good at one time but isn't good advice for you. It's a hard line to walk, but again, be smart and you'll be able to navigate through all of the advice that's coming your way.