What was some of the best advice you got when starting your own business? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Great advice is hard to come by. Mediocre advice is everywhere, and unfortunately, you won't find much value in the memes and quote macros your neighbor posts on Facebook. The best advice can be found when you actively seek out objective, totally un-sexy advice. I was extremely lucky early in my career to develop relationships with mentors who guided me through the launch of my first business. Here are the four best pieces of advice that have stuck with me over the past ten years:
1) "Be careful who you take advice from."
When I first started my business, everyone around me was eager to offer his or her well-intentioned two cents. A great example of this was my loving mother, a paralegal, who urged me to steer in a more "stable" direction. She didn't like me staying at the office until midnight, and like all good Jewish mothers, was heavily concerned about my health.
Luckily, I had trusted mentors to coach me through this one. I learned the importance of seeking qualified advice, rather than loving advice. It didn't take me long to realize that. While I listen to my mother in countless areas of my life, she is not the successful entrepreneur that I am striving to be. I learned that it is crucial to only take advice from those who have been there, done it, and succeeded.
2) "When it comes to your business, never make emotional decisions."
Early on, I received the excellent advice to make a conscious, mature decision to separate my emotions from business decisions. As an inherently emotional creature, this was difficult advice to follow. Nevertheless, my mentors rightly pointed out how important it is to run a business by the numbers.
To be clear, no one ever said don't be emotional. Strong feelings about your company are important. Your business is your baby and it will make you laugh, cry, scream, and even dance -- all of which boil down to passion, which is a great thing. But, there is a big difference between self-deception and passion. There is tremendous risk in making emotional decisions and justifying them with unrelated or unsubstantiated facts. Instead, I learned to acknowledge my feelings, but never to let them drive my decisions. Practicing this separation took time and a great deal of self-control. To those who struggle with this, it helps to remind yourself that only the most disciplined entrepreneurs become successful.
3) "If it were easy, everyone would do it."
This might sound like generic advice, but it has guided my mentality ever since I was a rookie entrepreneur. My mentors imparted these words of wisdom to prepare me for the inevitable bumps and blunders I would face as a business owner. Entering my new career with realistic expectations helped to eliminate the oh-so-tempting self-pitied question of "why me?" when the going got tough. I knew that there was a reason entrepreneurship was a path less traveled by most Americans, and that I had specifically chosen the path with this in mind. I learned to channel my frustrations into a feeling of pride for my ability to tackle what most people feared. Fortune favors the bold, and this couldn't be more true in business. I'm a strong believer that.
4) "Go all in."
One of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor was to close my back doors and commit to my business one hundred percent. As Brian Tracy so famously said, "Make a total commitment to your company, your job, and your career. Uncommitted people have no future." So many people go into business with one foot already out the door. Instead of going all in, they think the safer route is to keep their options open. This self-sabotaging strategy is one reason why so many people fail. Part of becoming successful means being willing to fight to the death.
Elijah Medge is a decade-long entrepreneur based in Long Beach, California. He owns and manages direct marketing firms throughout the country, and also serves as a coach and mentor to other entrepreneurs. Learn more at www.ElijahMedge.com or on About.me.
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