What is the best business advice you would give any small business owner? This is a question I get asked a lot.
As U.S. Navy Admiral Hyman G. Rickover once said, “you must learn from the mistakes of others—you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.“
Today, I’m going to show you the one thing you need to know about the advice you receive when it comes to your business. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way from years of experience as a small business owner.
There is one thing that separates many uber-successful entrepreneurs from the rest.
I’ll share with you how I learned this lesson the hard way, the problem with most business advice, and how successful business owners get the best business advice.
How I learned the best business advice the hard way
What makes me one of the best business coaches in the industry? Because I learned the best business advice the hard way!
I didn’t just graduate from the university of hard knocks, I earned a Master’s Degree. I worked in my family business, started businesses, coached hundreds of other business owners, started a franchise, sold franchises, grew businesses, won prestigious business awards. I’ve been on TV and lost friendships over business deals. I made nice money and went bankrupt and lost every single penny. I started from scratch.
Right now, I’m in better financial and physical shape than ever before and I still eat, sleep, and drink business. Also, I coach from the experience because I played in the game. I don’t coach from theory. Instead, I have street smart insights that are second to none.
I can’t explain to you how pissed off I get when I see the stupid mistakes that cost people their life savings, stresses their family out, and mangles their health. I’ve been there, done that. Many times, I don’t even really know these folks who make these mistakes. All I know is that they are entrepreneurs. And that’s enough for me to love them, hurt for them, and get frustrated for them.
The problem with most business advice
It isn’t that people are trying to cheat you, although a few might be. Most small business owners look for advice from people who are filled with both open and unconscious conflicts of interest.
As a result, these conflicts destroy people’s wealth every day.
Let me give you the most important examples:
1. Business Brokers: similar to a real estate agent when you buy a house, the broker only gets paid if they get you to buy the business. Do think that’s a big conflict? It’s not the broker’s problem if the business goes bust in a month or a year. It’s yours.
2. Franchises: A franchise can be a great investment. Ideally, you’re buying a sustainable business model that will generate profit for years to come. However, the franchisor enjoys much of the benefit while limiting their risk. If your franchise succeeds they might earn additional money from the supplies, equipment, or even the property you buy or lease. In addition to the royalty fee based on a percentage of your sales. On the other hand, if the franchise fails your on the hook for all of the expenses. The franchisor is going to tell you it’s a great opportunity. Go talk to the other franchise owners who have been in business for a few years and you might get a much different story!
3. Your Employees: When you talk to your employees their first thought is what’s in it for me? How will this affect my workload, my life, and my pay? And rightly so because they are employees, they are not the owner.
4. Your Attorney: Most attorneys make their money by the billable hour. You go to your attorney to discuss a lawsuit, contracts, leases, etc. Do you think billable hour thoughts might sway their advice? For example, you might have every legal right to bring a lawsuit against a competitor, but if you have little chance of recouping the time, stress, and money from the lawsuit is it worth it? There is a difference between being right and choosing the right course of action for your business.
5. Financial Advisors/ Marketing Consultants/ Vendors: You hire financial advisors, marketing consultants, and many other vendors because you like them and they wine and dine you. That’s what the Bellagio does, come on that’s loaded with conflicts!
6. Friends and family: Many small business owners think that friends and family members are the best people to ask for advice because there’s less of a conflict of interest. However, these conflicts are there. They are just on a more unconscious level. For example, they agree with you just because they love you or worse because they are jealous of you. Ever heard of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? It’s real and loaded with conflict! Additionally, most of your friends and family don’t have the experience of owning a business or in your industry to give you good advice.
7. SCORE /SBA/ Etc: There is no shortage of free business advice. The SBA (Small Business Administration), SCORE, universities, and a number of other non-profits will give you free advice. The problem is that the vast majority of these people have never owned a business. Many of them know what should work in theory, but no idea how to run a successful business in the real world.
How successful business owners get the best business advice
What do Apple, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and eBay all have in common? Bill Campbell.
Most people have never heard of Bill Campbell, but he was a business advisor for some of the most successful tech companies in the world and coached them from scrappy startups to the billion-dollar companies that impact our lives every day.
Before getting into business, Bill was the head football coach for Columbia University. He started his business career in 1980 and quickly rose through the ranks at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson and then Kodak before becoming a business advisor in the early 1980s.
In the early 1990s became CEO of GO Corporation, a startup pioneering a tablet computer operating system. It was successfully sold to AT&T in 1993. It appeared in public to be a big win. However, in reality, investors lost most of their money, and management along with early employees received very little for their 100 hour work weeks for three years.
Bill learned a great deal from this tough experience that he took his next job as CEO of Intuit from 1994 to 1998. After stepping down as CEO he spent the rest of his career as a business advisor. Sadly, he passed away in 2016.
Why did business titans such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey, Larry Page, Sherly Sandberg, and many others seek his advice? Because he gave them conflict-free advice that they couldn’t get anywhere else.
Many times this advice was painful to hear, but it was the truth. According to an article written by Fast Company in 2019, here were Bill Campbell’s top 10 sayings:
- “That’s the sound of your head coming out of your a**.”
- “Don’t f**k it up.”
- “You’re so f**ked up you make me look good.”
- “You’d f**k up a free lunch.”
- “You’ve got hands like feet.”
- “You couldn’t run a five-flat forty-yard dash off a cliff.”
- “You’re a numbnuts.”
- “He’s one of the great horse’s a**es of our time.”
- “You’re as dumb as a post.”
- “You should have that shirt cleaned and burned.”
To be clear, when he said these things he didn’t like these people, he LOVED them to include Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sherly Sandberg, and many others. Bill also believed strongly in the mission of each of these companies and wanted them to achieve their goals.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that Fortune 50 CEOs are incredibly self-confident. To be the best in the world at what they do, they have to instinctively develop robust personal filters that ignore kind words, empty platitudes, and polite suggestions. They get plenty of these from employees, vendors, the media, and numerous other sources.
Here’s what they know that most business owners don’t know about the best business advice.
Successful people always hire independent third-party advisors. They never think of an expert as a cost or an expense. Instead, they treat it as an investment because it is an investment. If it’s free, it’s not for them. They don’t want free, they want the best of the best. They know that investing in self-development is always the best investment they can ever make.
Now that I brought this big differentiator to your attention, it’s pretty obvious, right? But it’s not simple. Changing to a growth mindset is never easy.
80% of the folks I show this to will never use this strategy for three big reasons.
- It’s not free. They are not willing to invest in themselves.
- Most people have to get approval from another person to invest in themselves in their own business. It’s demented.
- Most business owners can’t handle the truth because they would rather surround themselves with cheerleaders and yes men.
My mission is to help business owners who have a burning desire to kick some ass and aren’t afraid of the truth. I provide the best business advice conflict-free to help you eliminate a problem, double your income, brainstorm an idea, or any of the hundreds of issues that come up when you’re a business owner.
I wish you more money and time so you can enjoy the freedom you deserve. Cheers to your success!
Are you ready to kick some ass? You can contact me here.