WHO SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO
In my last article, I presented a small sampling of some of the many professionals you may need at some point in your business, particularly during start-up and major changes. Beyond this, there exists a vast network of friends, family, colleagues, fellow business owners, and more. All of these people will come out of the woodwork offering all kinds of well-intentioned advice. Listen long enough and youll find yourself adrift in a sea of information, much of it contradictory and most of it delivered with a fair degree of passion. This begs a simple yet important question:
Who should you listen to?
A friend of mine once wanted to open up a pho (Vietnamese soup) restaurant. We talked about it and batted a lot of ideas around before she revealed that her family and husband were telling her how hard launching and running a business is.
My first question was How do these people run their businesses? The answer was predictable: Everyone trying to discourage her was running a struggling business and putting in 80-hour weeks. What other kind of advice did she expect from them? To date, she has not opened her restaurant and is stuck in the bowels of one dot-com company after another. Think about this and ask yourself whether you really want to hear how difficult things are at the moment youre on the cusp?
The other extreme is populated by the hucksters and snake-oil pushers of the ilk that normally inhabit late-night infomercials. Let me just say that renting a vacant house, borrowing a boat, shooting the footage, and buying the airtime is a lot cheaper than you might think. Heck, I could almost afford to do an infomercial. In most cases, these people are neither as rich nor living anything resembling the lives of ease they seem to be.
So who should you listen to?
Ive said this before and Im saying it again because it is so critically important for your future success: Learn from people who have been where you want to go. Want to make a lot of money? Talk to people who make a lot of money. Want to run a thriving business? Talk to people who run thriving businesses. Want work/life balance? Talk to people who have excellent work/life balance. Above all, talk to people who love what they do.
Heres a hint: In many cases, the people you need to talk to will not be in the crowd coming from the woodwork. Youre going to have to seek them out. Identifying them is easy. Approaching them? Thats the hard part for many people. How do you do it?
Easy: Ask them. Tell them what youre doing, what you need, and ask for their help.
Ive met and worked with some amazing people and continue forging new partnerships. The one lesson Ive learned is that people who are truly interested in success will always lend an ear. They may not be able to help you but they will almost always point you in the right direction. The key is that you must be sincere about your needs and why you approached them.
I strongly suspect that some of you reading this missive are considering starting or reinventing your business and/or making other lifes choices. Who will you entrust for advice on how to live your dreams?
In my next article, at long last: The business plan.