Congrats on striking out on your own and becoming an entrepreneur. But now brace yourself. You’re about to encounter an endless, albeit well-intentioned, torrent of advice from founders, investors, friends and family, the construction workers on your corner and the dog-walker, all sharing their thoughts on how best to run your company.
But how to decide which nuggets are gold and which are duds? Here, some of the biggest pieces of BS advice I received when when starting my own businesses.
1. Don’t tell others about your business idea -- they might steal it.
You can’t operate your business out of fear. No matter how good your idea, you won't be able to execute successfully if you leave it trapped in a little box. Every entrepreneur has an idea that is different from the idea that they started with, and that idea is likely different than the ideas that will eventually help grow their business in the future. One of the only ways we as entrepreneurs have been successful is by sharing our ideas with other people. They’re the ones who helped us change and grow our idea into what it is today.
2. Take all rejection advice to heart.
When going through the process of building a business, you’re going to get shot down. A lot. It’s the nature of the business, and a hurdle you’re going to have to overcome more than once. When you get rejected, don’t get defensive and ask whomever you’re pitching why they won’t support you. In most cases, the reason you’ll be given will likely be disingenuous and probably not helpful. Some investors may give you a milestone to reach in order for them to invest. If this happens, ignore it. They’re just trying to get you out the door or close the loop on what is now an unwanted email chain.
3. Only hire employees with exceptional experience.
When it comes to building your team, you shouldn’t get hung up on an individual’s experience. Why? Because experience is expensive. What’s key in building a great team is hiring people who believe in what you’re doing as much as you do. You need to build your brand with people who are willing to work the craziness that is a startup schedule, putting in nights and weekends for a fraction of the pay they could demand on the market in exchange for equity in the company. Finding a team comprised of individuals that are wildly passionate about their work will get you further than two decades of experience any day.
4. To build a great team, you need to hire a recruiter.
Whatever you do, don’t hire a recruiter. Recruiters often dilute your brand in order to secure a pipeline full of talent, resulting in candidates who either don’t know or don’t care about what you’re doing and are looking for a stepping stone job. In addition, it’s not uncommon for recruiters to demand 20 percent of a new hire’s first year salary. And when the employee’s contract ends, oftentimes recruiters will poach them for different companies. Instead of wasting capital on a recruiter budget, use those resources on team-building activities to help reinforce your work culture.
5. You’re with us or against us: Write off those who don’t want to join your team.
Whether or not someone is going to work for you or invest in you, it’s important to foster those relationships along the way. Your growing network can provide unprecedented and unique advice and insight, regardless of whether or not they’re going to become a part of your venture in the long run. If nothing else, these relationships could lead to investors and advisors down the line. The more people who know about your business, the better.
No matter your idea, you’re going to encounter a lot of BS when building a business. Evaluate each piece of advice based on what’s best for your brand, and apply or discard as needed.