Going down the road of other people’s advice can provide a bit of false reassurance when heading out on your own as an entrepreneur, particularly if it is your first venture outside Corporate America.
In a current discussion on the LinkedIn Founders Under 40 Group a question was asked, “As a young leader, what would you do differently if you could go back and start your organization again?” One of the answers resonated particularly strong with me for two main reasons:
- This is something we see over and over again with our clients.
- Is honestly something we have experienced as entrepreneurs ourselves.
The response was “…Above all, listened to my gut than my advisers :-)”
What other people think
Isn’t advice good? Sure, advice can help you avoid pitfalls and landmines, get you in contact with people of influence and help you realize your goals more quickly IF said advice works with your vision and your plan.
Here’s the problem, and we see it over and over again with our private and corporate coaching clients. People have gotten so wrapped up in what other people think that they have forgotten how to listen to themselves and take action accordingly. How we think other people perceive us has become incredibly important and influential in the decisions we make and actions we take. This concern of other people’s opinions overrides our own decision making process and the result is derailment.
When we get off track we have an incredibly difficult time getting where we truly want to go because we are so busy doing what other people think we should do (or what we think they think we should do!). If you are an entrepreneur, the funding clock is ticking and you literally cannot afford to be traveling down every path suggested to you.
You’re a leader now; stay on track
You took a big leap, or more accurately a gigantic leap, by going out on your own. You listened to your gut to take this brave step, don’t stop now. By default, you are a leader now and you need to stay on track. Here are 5 things you can do to get back in touch with your inner voice to help reclaim your personal identity and get you on track for success.
- Write out your vision and mission and keep it in front of you. Actually do this. Don’t yea, yea past this part. Engrain your vision and mission in your head. Review with your team at the start of every week and if it’s just you then review it on your own to keep you on your track. When you hear all these things “you should do”, check in with your vision and mission to see if this advice will take you where YOU want to go. You have put thousands of hours of thought, planning, research, work and refining into your venture. Does this guy who’s known you for 5 minutes know enough about what you are doing to offer solid advice that you should run with? Above all else, trust your gut.
- Believe in yourself. Just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you can’t nor does it mean your way isn’t better than the “been there, done that” approach someone else is trying to sell you. You likely see an opportunity that others don’t see and don’t lose track of what that is. Most of these “advisers” don’t know your full vision so don’t let them sway you with all of their advice that may have been good for their business at that time in their situation, but might not be right for your business, situation or timing. See step one and again, trust your gut.
- Pause. Take time to stop, hear your thoughts, sort them out and make sure they are supporting steps one and two. Creating awareness around your thoughts is critical so you can hear the trusting voice inside your head. Check in to see what self-limiting stories you are telling yourself as a result of listening to others. Understand the reality of these stories and if they are just stories, which they likely are, put them in the trash, practice emotional intelligence, and get refocused on steps one and two.
- Keep stoking the fire. No one will ever be as passionate as you about your business nor will they fully understand all of the fine details you have debated over, labored over, lost sleep over and finally settled into a decision on. If acting on the advice of outsiders is taking you away from the core of your passion don’t do it. As the lead creator of this business, it is your life. You are working even when you are not working. Every interaction will spark a thought on how you can apply this product, service or experience to your business and as such, if you start to wander away from the core, where your passion lies, you will stumble. Coming back to your passion is far more difficult that staying true to it in the beginning. In fact, it is exhausting and you can lose months of valuable time and resources as a result which you literally cannot afford.
- Be unique and different. You don’t have to think up an Instagram to have great success. A lot of great businesses were launched by taking an existing idea and doing it better, which implies not doing it the same old way. If you start implementing everyone else’s tried and true methods you aren’t going to end up with better, you will end up with the same. Does the same fit into step one?
Consider the source
Be selective on the advice you are asking for and even more selective with the advice you take. Consider the source. People generally mean well, but some people really like to hear themselves talk and are quite certain they are right, period. They will even tell you you’re flat wrong, and again, why they are right. Their advice is more about their ego than helping your business. Ask yourself how much they really understand your business, your business culture, your objectives and measures for success. There are far more people willing to tell you what you are doing wrong than what you are doing right.
We all have successful and inspiring people in our lives that have a lot to offer. I’m not suggesting you should never look to others for advice, but rather be selective on what you are reaching out for. Getting too many opinions will send you chasing your tail and not getting anything done. Executing things that will drive you forward is what matters most.
Guard your passion
Depending on your business, there is a long list of things that make sense for to seek advice on. What I’m suggesting is that asking for input on the core of your business, where the true passion is, is something you should refrain from doing. It is your passion and your idea, and it is what will propel you forward when the odds seem stacked against you. Why are you asking for approval? Just don’t, and go back to trust your gut. Remember, the lessons of those who have achieved great success generally include working through the doubt of others, including those closest to them.
Consider this, there is a large number of people out there who can’t answer the questions of what makes them happy, what they would rather be doing, what work they would enjoy, or what they want their legacy to be. If you are the founder of a business, you have answered at least a few of these because those answers are what drove you to create and launch your business in the first place. Keep that fire burning and tune out those who are not adding fuel to your fire of building a fabulously successful business.
Image courtesy: dbrekke