Taking Advice vs. Following Your Heart
In my experience as an entrepreneur, you get a lot of advice. I assume it's similar to the experience that new parents face when everyone has their 2 cents about how you should be doing things. And as a new business owner, I understand the temptation to take everything in...or shut everything out.
Depending on your personality, you probably lean towards one side of the spectrum more than the other. See if either of these resonate with you:
You are eager to learn, and you've heard the value of mentorship. Asking for input on your decisions seems to be a wise choice. After all, the people in your life are far more seasoned than you, and they have established successful businesses themselves. But sometimes, you feel like there are too many options on the table, and it gives you analysis paralysis when it comes time to act.
You firmly believe that no one knows your business better than you. You've drilled your numbers, and you know your ideal client. The advice you often receive seems to be misguided or antiquated, and it's a waste of your time to poll the masses when you know you're listening to your gut. But, you keep running into the same roadblocks, and this time, you feel stuck.
I probably relate to the second paragraph more because I tend to be a bit hard-headed and sure of my footing. But, as I hope you realized in reading through those dramatized descriptions, neither strategy is good 100% of the time. In fact, if you exist in one of those spaces constantly, I believe that your business is probably doomed.
So, how do you move from the extremes to find the balance of asking for advice and sticking to your guns? These are the measures I put into place to evaluate what I need:
Keep Your Inner Circle Close
There are friends, and then there are friends and mentors that I ask about business. They don't need to be one in the same. One of the biggest issues I see in business (and in life) is the struggle that comes along with asking for too many opinions. If your head is flooded with a million different ways to do things, it is going to be really difficult to formulate your own plan and your own voice. I never ask more than 2-3 people for advice on any big decision, and that philosophy usually crosses over into my personal life, too. I'm an external processor, and I love input, but I also have to be wise about who I share my struggles with.
Ponder Before You Put it Out There
If you get a piece of heavy news and immediately phone your spouse, mom, mentor, or buddy, I would caution you to take a breather. More than likely, any business decision is going to effect you more than anyone else, so you need to know how you feel before you go seeking opinions right and left. I'm not saying to make up your mind because that defeats the purpose of asking for advice, but I am saying to take time and get comfortable with your feelings on the issue. If you can't articulate what's going on, then there is a strong chance that you will do a poor job outlining the story, and you may receive misguided advice.
Don't be Insane
You've heard it before, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. There's a lot of entrepreneurial wisdom out there that will tell you to follow your heart, quiet the haters, and never look back. I know there are people who have been successful this way, and I have experienced the value of not taking the advice and doing my own thing on occasion. But, like I mentioned earlier, you can't do it all of the time. Some of the biggest breakthroughs in my business have come after I realized that my stubbornness was actually holding me back, and it was time to stop doing it my way. Typically, I noticed that I needed to change because I heard myself echoing the same complaints over and over again.
So to recap, I keep my inner circle small, only seek advice when I've had some time to process, and check myself if I am experiencing the same results constantly. There has to be a balance because no one is right all the time, but we also don't need to sink to the level where others can influence our every move. If you've been living in one of the extremes for a while and you're experiencing set backs, try something new, and see if you get a better result.
I'd love to hear your business strategy when it comes to taking advice, drop me a note in the comments below!