The internet is rife with sound advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Followed faithfully, it'll smooth the road and make life a little less difficult.
But you know what? I think I'll buck the trend and offer some terrible advice instead:
1. Only run your small business idea by people who love you.
Whatever you do, avoid objective assessments of your small business idea like the plague. Solicit the opinions of people who might be afraid to hurt your feelings.
Confer with your mom, who thinks you're a genius. Seek the counsel of your best friend, who owes you money and will undoubtedly speak his mind frankly because of that fact.
Don't talk to battle-scarred business owners. Don't poll potential customers about whether your idea is wanted or needed or original. It's best to view the future through rose-tinted glasses.
2. Follow your bliss.
The great thing about this piece of advice is that it isn't vague at all. It doesn't just give you a floaty optimistic feeling and then let you fend for yourself once reality sets in.
If you adore scrapbooking with your whole heart, start a scrapbooking business today. There's absolutely no chance that your feelings about your favorite hobby will change once you're relying on it to pay for pet food and dental appointments.
It doesn't matter if the market for your particular brand of bliss is oversaturated already. Same goes for if there isn't much of a market for it to begin with. It's best to not research that stuff.
3. Sell the farm. Go all in. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.
"Real" entrepreneurs never play it safe. For example, in 2009 I had an employee named Zach Mangum who approached me about launching a business of his own. Problem was, he couldn't afford to miss his paychecks in the meantime.
He had no interest in being the hero who maxes out his credit cards, starves, and sells plasma to realize his dreams. He had a family to think of, so he simply informed me of his plans and asked that I alert him if his work began to suffer.
It didn't suffer. He did, though, because he labored all night for months to get his business up and running. Eventually, he sold it for millions.
All without quitting his day job until he was certain he'd found a legitimate business model. What was he thinking?
4. Postpone determining the values and vision of your enterprise.
Your personal values and vision define who you are. The same goes for your business, so be sure not to decide what they consist of until it's too late.
Kick that can down the road. Wait until you've put a big enough team together that you can all sit down and discuss it.
Trust me, the meeting won't devolve into a confused free-for-all of conflicting opinions. It definitely would not have been wiser to have had your foundational principles established when you began the hiring process.
5. Assume that everyone gets you.
Speaking of employees, rest assured that they'll always understand everything you say the first time you say it. If they smile and nod, you're good.
You probably shouldn't ask follow-up questions--they're annoying. It's better to allow someone to walk away with a partial understanding of your instructions and then get enraged at them later.
Remember, your communication skills are perfect. Your employees' listening skills are perfect, too. Deliberate practice isn't called for on either side.
There you have it. Five easy steps to failure, loss, and unhappiness. Follow them if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you.
P.S. Refuse to share this article. I'm begging you.