Business Advice

The Worst Advice I Ever Got Was...

The Worst Advice I Ever Got Was...
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4 min read

This story appears in the May 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Although many people love to offer advice, not all words of wisdom are worth following. Here, successful entrepreneurs share the advice they're glad they didn't take.

 “Don’t rock the boat. Take the simple and safe plan.”

Why I ignored it:  “A colleague said this years ago, as we explored turning an 11th-century castle into a luxury hotel. I didn’t love our designer’s proposal -- and after much research and discussion, I decided to take the project in-house. Today, Castello Banfi Il Borgo is one of Italy’s top hotels. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, and remember: We must take the tougher path if we think it’s the right one.” 
-- Cristina Mariani May, co-CEO, Banfi Wines

 “Create plans for each phase of your business and follow them to the letter.”

Why I ignored it:  “I learned very quickly that all the best-laid plans, from your own business growth to your client campaigns, sound ideal -- but too often there are unforeseen circumstances that require taking a second look, rejiggering your strategy and simply following your gut. Adhering too strictly to a plan might backfire.” 
-- Jennifer Baum, founder and president, Bullfrog + Baum

 “Keep your head down. If you don’t do anything too good or too bad, you’ll fly under the radar and keep your job.”

Why I ignored it: “Who wants to live a life under those rules? Do I want to look back and say, ‘I played my hand of life to the fullest, and I have no regrets’ or ‘I played it safe, no one noticed me and I survived’?”
-- John Lee Dumas, founder, Entrepreneur on Fire

 “You’re making a mistake by dropping out of college to start a pizza shop.”

Why I ignored it:  “As an experiential learner, I thrive in environments where I can move fast, make mistakes and iterate. For me the school environment just didn’t make sense. After the restaurant, I continued a series of ventures that led to me founding Hootsuite.”
-- Ryan Holmes, founder, Hootsuite

 “Change the way you speak, act and dress, and be more ‘professional looking.’”

Why I ignored it:  “I got more tattoos, started cursing more, tried to turn off more people -- and my business grew exponentially. Be yourself and market to people like you or your business. Forget the others.” 
-- Jason Ferruggia, founder, Renegade Strength & Conditioning

 “Stay in that high-paying Wall Street job until you pay off your student loans.”

Why I ignored it:  “I would still be there if I did that.” 
-- Deborah Dugan, CEO, (RED)

 “You don’t need a cofounder to start a company.”

Why I ignored it:  “The thought of total ownership may be tempting, but at the end of the day, 100 percent of nothing is still nothing. Burner wouldn’t be where it is today without the collaboration and complementary perspectives of my cofounder.” 
-- Greg Cohn, cofounder and CEO, Burner

 “You have to play the game.”

Why I ignored it: “When I first started my website, I tried to compete with the BuzzFeeds of the world -- and it failed. I eventually realized I should go where there were fewer sharks. Instead of being topical, I went for permanent: going deep into a subject and spending weeks crafting an article that will be relevant for years to come. That’s when my business took off.” 
-- Steve Kamb, founder, Nerd Fitness

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