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When Friends and Family Offer Business Advice

Sure, they mean well--but the health of your business depends on your ability to separate good advice from the bad.

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This story appears in the December 2002 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

All too often, well-meaning family, friends and business associates give advice--some good, some bad--based on their view of what's right or wrong and fail to understand that every company has a unique culture that works for it. When faced with this situation, what's a business owner to do?

I just returned from an association meeting in Florida. There were about 50 small-business owners in attendance; some in business for more than 30 years and others but a few months. As you might imagine, these business owners compete on a regular basis, yet the association meetings give them a chance to mingle and discuss common problems. This particular meeting was like many others I've attended: A few vendors made sales pitches, some of the members presented new equipment they had developed and were making available to others who might be interested, and one member gave a presentation of a unique service his company offered.

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