315: Take advice from others with caution

There are two types of employees that work for you: people that get stuff done and take action, and people who think and message. The doers will move your business forward, while the thinkers and messengers will send emails to pass things on but deliver little progress.

There are an incredible amount of crappy tasks to do in a small business, and it’s very easy to try to pass them on. Many managers turn into messengers, and they just direct these problems to somebody else to get things off their plate. Delegating still has its place, but there’s a difference between messengers and delegaters. Delegaters hand off tasks and follow up to ensure that they get done well, messengers just move things around but don’t execute.

On a separate note, I’ve been reflecting on the role of mentorship and advice in my entrepreneurship journey. In college, I had mentors in my entrepreneurship program that were into big ideas, and they advised against me launching Storage Squad because it wasn’t new. When my partner and I started our real estate company, we didn’t get advice from anybody in the real estate world, and frankly, I’m glad that we didn’t.

What you’ll find when you ask for advice is that not every successful person is smart, and there are a ton of different paths to success. A successful person has a very different risk appetite than somebody who is just starting out, and rightfully so. At 25 years old I took a massive risk to build a self-storage facility from the ground up, and now I’d probably tell somebody with the same plan that it’s a bad idea. You’ll get bad advice from sharp people because they’re not in your shoes, they’re in a different life and financial stage.

When getting advice or seeking out mentorship, think about the perspective of the people you’re speaking with. Successful people don’t have many losses or failures, so a lot of them have gotten lucky and look good because of survivorship bias. Even in real estate, we have a proven track record of success, and people who have been in the industry for decades still tell us that we’re doing things wrong. Experience hampers innovation because people see the world differently when they need to avoid losing more than they need to win. There is no substitute for getting out there and taking action, so think carefully and don’t be afraid to seek out other peoples’ opinions, but don’t be afraid to act.

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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.