257: Be Careful About the Advice You Get

In this episode of the Sweaty Startup, we dive into the type of person you are and the type of people you seek to get advice from. Whether you are in that Messy Middle, or just beginning your own sweaty startup, it’s essential in entrepreneurship to understand these concepts so you can avoid the pitfalls that can sometimes come from bad advice and business ideas.

The way I see it, there are two types of people that work for you, especially when managing a small business. There are those that get stuff done and take action, and there are the thinkers or messengers.  Doers are those individuals that are self-starters and driven; they get out there and do what it takes to get the job done. In contrast, Messengers are those people that pass on the task to someone else; they send an email or contract on to someone else for review, or they procrastinate a job before begrudgingly doing the task. Don’t confuse this with what we talked about in our last episode about delegating. Being a messenger is only passing on information left and right with no real intent of seeing it through; they want to pass a task onto someone else with the intent to avoid it being on their own shoulders.

Bluntly put, there are a lot of crappy tasks that need to be done like managing cashflow, keeping the books, or leveraging debt in your favor, etc.  These are especially prevalent when you first start your business. Unfortunately many of those often in management end up falling under the classification of messengers. They may be ones to talk about, think about, or know about solving problems, but in the end they never go about getting things done; they pass on information and push off tasks onto other people. 

So the question for you is: are you a messenger in your business or are you a doer?  A follow-up question: Are your key people, or managers messengers or doers? As the head of your business startup, you need to hold them accountable. Call them out, be it privately, and create doers out of those that may have the tendency to ease into the role of messengers. As you start to understand who you are and who those working for you are as an individual, you have a clearer foundation for you to be successful in your entrepreneurial journey. 

After you understand who you are, it becomes easier to filter through all the external information and advice that you often receive when starting your company. Reflecting on this subject, I’m taken back to when I started my entrepreneurial journey in real estate.  In the beginning we would bounce our ideas off of mentors and experienced individuals. More often than not, we had many people tell us “yeah, that’s a great idea, but have you thought of…?” Because of their opinions, we could have easily been distracted something we encouraged avoiding a couple episodes back

In some ways it was good that we were stubborn and kept ourselves from getting advice from others in the real estate world, because they would have A) talked us out of it or B) pushed us into a structure that wasn’t as good as the one we came up with. This is the potential pitfall if you aren’t cautious on who you get advice from; you may never look for what works for you individually. 

When it comes to those successful people throwing out advice, you will find that there are two types: 1) The successful idiot who only attained success through dumb luck, and 2) the successful person that is only looking at your situation through the lens of their current state of success. Not much needs to be said about the first person; just avoid advice from the people that struck gold out of luck. As for the second person, let me explain: 

Those successful people that are in the latter years of their success have a very different appetite than someone just starting a business. They view the world differently than someone who hasn’t yet obtained wealth.  Looking back to my younger self just starting out in real estate, when I didn’t have a family to take care of, didn’t have employees all relying on me, etc., I had a very different appetite for risk. I didn’t really have anything to lose.  

Many of the mentors you may get advice from are coming from a completely different stage in their life than where you are. Their perspective is going to be subjective to that stage.  So take it with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that your situation and point in your entrepreneurial journey is different from those who are no longer in the same trenches.  

Overall, It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds and marvel at others’ success “I want to be like (this person)…”, but don’t underestimate your own creativity and the value you add.  At times, experience can hamper creativity, and this is where advice from those with experience could come with a bit of bias. I won’t lie, this is one of the reasons that, when it comes to hiring, quite often I would prefer to hire someone that doesn’t know completely how things work. This is because they come out of the lens of innovation. Experience, to a degree, stunts innovation.

To sum up, as you go about getting advice and mentorship from those successful entrepreneurs out there, keep in mind that people can be biased and stuck in their ways, to the point that their advice could send you on a path that is wrong FOR YOU. Don’t be afraid to be different. Generally, I don’t subscribe to the idea of radical innovation, with huge leaps forward in entrepreneurship. I believe in the little sweaty startup! There is no substitute for getting out and doing it. Hold on to your fresh view and strong appetite for success while being cautious of where your advice comes from. You may find that the best advice you get, came from your own gut.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. There are two types of people that work for you. There are those that get stuff done and take action, and there are the thinkers or messengers. Seek for, and become a doer.
  2. At times experience can hamper creativity, and this is where advice from those with experience could come with a bit of bias.
  3. Those successful people that are in the latter years of their success have a very different appetite than someone just starting a business.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.