Everywhere you turn, people are offering unsolicited advice on how to start, run and grow a business. Some of these pointers are valuable and should be heeded. Others, however, are either outdated, misinterpreted or just flat-out wrong for your business.
For business owners, it can be difficult to filter out the good tips from the bad ones. To help you avoid advice that likely won't do you any good, we asked a group of successful entrepreneurs to name an overrated business tip they've received at some point in their careers.
Based on their experiences, it's safe to ignore these common pieces of entrepreneurial "wisdom."
'Your product or service has to be unique.'
Entrepreneurs are frequently advised to define what makes them different. However, you don't have to come up with a totally unique approach to achieve business success, says Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS.
"Sometimes one subtle change can improve the whole experience," Thimothy adds. "Instead of trying to figure out how to build something new, see what you can do to improve what's already there."
'The customer is always right.'
Should you care about making your customers happy? Absolutely. Should you compromise your business to accommodate someone who's in the wrong? Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc., doesn't think so.
"Sometimes, you need to be willing to fire a customer or a client and send them on their way," says Munoz. "Being too much of a people pleaser can put you into a world unneeded suffering. It's better to focus on the things that will make you a real profit in the long term, and not those who drain your time and energy."
'Don't build a business with a friend.'
Ismael Wrixen, CEO of FE International, has heard on numerous occasions that starting a business with a friend is a bad idea, but his own experience begs to differ.
"I have built a successful business with an old friend and seen countless businesses built by friends whose skills complement each other," explains Wrixen. "Building a business can put a strain on a relationship, but the benefits of working with someone you trust can be worthwhile."
'Advertise on Facebook.'
Business have accepted that paid ads are the only way to truly boost your visibility on Facebook, which remains one of the top social media platforms worldwide. However, it's not always the best place to spend your advertising dollars.
"While Facebook ads can be valuable to certain businesses, I have found that the Facebook ad market is very saturated and the cost per lead has skyrocketed," says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder of Fem Founder. "There are more effective ways to reach your market for a fraction of the price per lead on platforms such as Pinterest."
'Focus on your website over building your brand.'
Alexia Vernon, president of Alexia Vernon Empowerment, LLC, notes that having a brand that resonates with ideal clients is important. However, investing time and energy in the "perfect" website isn't the way to build it.
"I spent more time trying to prove I had a brand by constantly redoing my website than by finding my brand from doing the work," Vernon says. "It's easy to develop a visually appealing website, compelling copy and a strong brand voice when you have lots of happy clients whose feedback you can draw from."
'Never turn down an opportunity.'
In the early days of your business, it's tempting to "do everything" and take every opportunity that comes your way. The reality, however, is that this approach can be a big waste of your time, says Adrien Schmidt, co-founder and CEO of Aristotle, by Bouquet.ai.
"Saying 'yes' to every opportunity your business encounters will suffocate your time and water down your brand, as your business' interests will appear to be all over the map," Schmidt says.
'Raise as much money as possible.'
Every business needs money to launch and grow, but not every business should seek that money through investors. While funding can help some businesses grow substantially, Andy Karuza, founder of FenSens, says there are many other lifestyle businesses that are better off with no strings attached.
"There's no cloud over your head about a certain valuation you need to achieve in an exit, and full autonomy to run the company as you deem best," Karuza explains. "Try to do it on your own first."