- Start something you are passionate about
This is bad advice and I hear it all the time. Start something that makes logical sense. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the relationships you will develop along the way. Enjoy building something. People who think with their hearts instead of their brains lose money and waste a bunch of time. When you operate on passion you are more likely to trudge on down the dead-end road. You are more likely to make poor decisions with your money. You are more likely to get into a business in the first place that is high risk and low reward. I’m passionate about beer but I sure as heck wouldn’t start a brewery. I’m passionate about food but I wouldn’t dare get into the restaurant business. Use your brain and be passionate about entrepreneurship!
- Try to change the world
I have bad news. You probably can’t change the world. Especially if this is your first company. This is like trying out for the Lakers when you haven’t ever touched a basketball. Build your first business. Take the next opportunity and build your second business. Get the momentum behind you and then you can think about influencing serious change. Start by changing your neighborhood!
- Work hard and you will succeed
If success is being able to pay your bills and feed your family – then yes. But in general you know how I feel about this one. Everyone works hard. This is America. You can’t succeed in business just by working hard. When you think you can solve every problem with hard work you miss all the warning signs and your business fails slowly over the course of several years and you sacrifice your health, self confidence, relationships and the financial well being of your family. Make sure you are able to see the signs.
- Never give up
There are tons of reasons why you should give up. Your brain is telling you to give up. Your market analysis is telling you to give up. Your customers are telling you to give up. Your spouse is telling you to give up. Your financial statement is telling you to give up. Determination is a great quality when there is an attainable goal in sight and you are hitting the targets along the way. The people who never give up parish with those that work really hard and think with their hearts and not their brains.
- A top dollar college degree is a must
I’ll say first I am very grateful for my time at Cornell. I met great people and learned a ton about life. But what you have to give up to get accepted and the traits that are rewarded in the Ivy league are not transferable to success or happiness in life. People there don’t know how to communicate. They are sheltered and coddled so much by their parents they don’t understand how to solve their own problems or deal with adversity. In the Ivy League you are rewarded for fitting in and doing as you are told. I’m teaching my kids what they need to know at home and sending them to public schools.
- Its all about finding the right people
The hardest part of business is not finding the right people who are capable of doing your job. The hardest part is designing the job to be so easy that anyone who is qualified can do it and anyone who is qualified can thrive. Setting your employees up for success is the key. The people who give this advice had over complicated job descriptions and tons of turnover. Don’t make the same mistake they did.
- You need a new idea to be an entrepreneur
This is probably the one that I hear the most. Or at least the “I don’t have an idea” excuse for not being an entrepreneur. Our media glorifies new ideas. Shark tank glorifies brand new services and brand new products. The books we read about entrepreneurs glorify the forward thinkers and the risk takers. You don’t need a new idea! You just need to find a growing market that has a hole in it somewhere. You just have to add a little bit of value. Faster, better or cheaper. There are thousands of markets in thousands of cities. You think they are all perfectly efficient? You don’t need to have a new idea to escape the rat race. You just have to do something a little better!
- Keep your idea a secret
Hopefully everybody knows by now that this is not the way real entrepreneurs think. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The execution is the hard part. I would go as far to say that you should always share everything with everyone. Your competitors aren’t paying attention and your network will grow and so will your opportunities.
- Choose your career like you choose your spouse
This is bad bad advice. We’re in America. You can divorce your career 10 times over and you get rewarded for it. People switch jobs and switch industries all the time and when they do they usually get way further ahead in life than the ones who don’t. Unfortunately our culture is starting to feel the same way about marriage but that is another topic for another day.