I could hear the defeat in Andrea’s voice.
“So, tell me again what he told you?” I asked.
“He told me my logo sucks.”
“Did he say why?”
“No. He said it was boring and that I should do the whole website over again.”
The “he” in our story is Andrea’s Uncle Frank.
To Uncle Frank’s credit, he was following her business growth with rapt attention. He loves his niece and wants her to do well. So, his opinion was not entirely without heart.
But the advice hurt, especially since Andrea had put a lot of focused time into her new website.
“Okay,” I said. “May I ask you a few things?”
“Your Uncle Frank. What does he do?”
“He works in a bank,” she replied.
“Has he ever had a business?”
“Never? No side businesses?”
“Is he your ideal client?”
“Does he understand your ideal client?”
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s get clear here…”
Unfortunately, Andrea’s is not an uncommon situation. When people are first starting a business, or when they’re in an uncomfortable transition in their business, there’s bound to be uncertainty. This can make them feel vulnerable. In that state, they might open themselves up to well-meaning advice, and end up blind-sided.
So, let me start by sharing with you what I shared with Andrea…
“Taking business advice from your uncle who has never owned a business in his life is like hiring Amy Winehouse to be your happiness coach.”
In other words, when it comes to business advice, you must consider the source.
There are five criteria to use as your own personal checklist when it comes to getting advice. (And yes, ALL five of these matter!)
1 – Competence.
When considering advice, ask yourself this question:
Is this person the “after” of my “before?”
In other words, is s/he more successful than you?
And yes, in the context of business, that measurement is money.
I can speak from experience here when I say that it takes a radically different mindset and skillset to run a $100K business than it does a $500K business.
And it takes a radically different mindset and skillset to run a $1M business than it does a $500K business.
Someone who understands the layers involved in marketing, systems, team – and also has the compassion to understand the growing pains involved in the Upleveling process is more likely to offer advice you can follow, as opposed to blanket criticisms that offer no solutions.
2 – Congruence.
Money, of course, is not the only measure.
I’ve received advice from people who have made millions which is an amazing accomplishment of course. But if they don’t have an awareness of spirit, purpose, compassion, service and lifestyle, then they’re not my ideal adviser.
Congruence means that the person who is advising you approaches their business with the same core values and standards that you live by. Get clear on what those are!
3 – Clarity.
This is a big one, and it could save you lots of heartache.
When you’re asking for advice, make sure that you’re clear about exactly what you want to know. Be armed with precise questions.
Consider the radically different answers you would get to each of these questions:
A] “I’m focusing on building my list. Will you look at these 10 article titles and let me know which you think are the most compelling for high open rates?”
B] “What do you think of this article?”
4 – Commitment.
In other words, does this person WANT to give advice? Or are they reluctant to take the time or give the needed focus to really listen to your question?
The answers to these questions can reveal the quality of advice you’ll receive. Some people are just too busy or impatient to take the time to hear you out. What often happens in a case like this is that the advice is not solution-based. It’s merely an opinion!
5 – Context.
The advice has to be in context with the challenge you’re facing, results you’re seeking or question you’re asking. Too often, I’ll hear from someone who has received some criticism on her weight or hair from someone who is supposedly advising her on her business operations.
Examples of context are:
An understanding of your ideal client.
A grasp of the results you’re aiming for.
Honoring and valuing the level you are at in your business.
A Personal Example:
One day, many years ago, I almost gave up everything I had worked for in my music career based on one single piece of advice I got over the phone.
“You need to quit this path and go get a job.”
Who gave me this advice?
A best-selling author who had a “call in coaching” day.
Even though one or two of the criteria above may have fit, this person had never even heard my music or seen me perform. The problems I was having were about the HOW of my business, not the WHAT of my business. But there’s no way she could’ve seen that.
Thank goodness I checked in with my business coach about this person’s advice.
It would suck if I had to go work for a bank. (For me AND the bank!)
Do you have a personal example?
What kind of bad business advice have you gotten? And what did you do to deal with it or get clarity about it? What standards did you create?