So you don’t have any clue about the industry you’re about to step into or maybe you’ve never run your own business before. You want to cut some corners so you start asking anyone and everyone for help and advice.
All of a sudden everyone has an opinion or some nuggets of advice to share with you. I’m talking about your uncle, mother, neighbour, friend of a friend, or guy on the bus.
I remember not knowing where to start when I wanted to get my home kitchen registered to safely bake cupcakes and sell them at the markets. So I started asking around… to the wrong people. I was getting answers such as, “Oh I heard it’s really hard to get your home kitchen registered and it will cost tens of thousands of dollars,” and, “I think you don’t need to register your home kitchen if you make less than a few hundred dollars a week.” WRONG. Boy would I have been in some deep poop if I had listened to people that had never done it before!
Not satisfied with any of the advice I was receiving, I decided to do my own ground work and called up the local council. It was actually quite a surprise when I found out that it wasn’t all that hard and it didn’t cost me tens of thousands of dollars. I also would have been in a pickle if I didn’t register my home kitchen and decided to sell my baked goods anyway. After that experience, I decided that I would no longer ask for advice to those that have never been there, done that. It would be a waste of their breath and a waste of my time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t talk about your idea or your business with people around you. I’m just saying, if you need really solid advice, go to people who you know are complete experts in that area. Also don’t underestimate the power of finding the answer for yourself.
Here are a few of strategies that might help when you’re stuck with not knowing what to do.
1. Google is your friend.
Okay, so this may sound like a no-brainer but sometimes you need to point out the obvious. Do your research, call up the council, do your reading and don’t be lazy.
2. Ask someone who is an expert.
This means someone that hasn’t just only done it once, but over and over again. This also might be tricky as highly skilled people are often highly sought after. Being only human, they only have 24 hours in a day, so it might be hard to convince them why they should spend an hour telling you their life’s learnings when they could be having fun on their yacht. There is a certain skill you need to have when you’re asking for their time.
Firstly, you need to know what etiquette is and make sure that you really value their time. Know the questions you want to ask them and come prepared. Ensure you make it as easy for them as possible to meet up with you – meaning that it should be up to them for the date/time/location. Oh, and if you invite them for a coffee, make sure you offer to pay for it. Be grateful for their advice and keep them updated on your progress. It makes it easier for them to know you really value their advice and they’ll be more willing to provide you with more words of wisdom.
3. Remember you are unique and you need to fail.
You don’t need to ask for advice to find the answer and if no one has encountered the problem before and documented it on Google, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. Every person is unique and every situation is different. So do what you can, fail and try again. The worst thing you can do is not do anything at all.
Have you been challenged by doubters and well-intentioned ‘advice’ in your business? Tell us in the comments!