I just read a great post. I’m quoting the main lines here from the excellent list published on StartRunGrow. It lists 10 common pieces of bad advice. And I’m including some or all of the commentary, in the blocks, with some thoughts of my own as well.

  1. “You will make a fortune–go for it.”
    People who tell you that you will make a fortune and encourage you to get right into business without taking the time to talk with you and assess what your business is all about are simply fools. If they are not in a successful business themselves, then they are not only fools, but also idiots. Steer well clear from this advice. Make sure all your decisions are based on sound research and facts. If necessary get a second and third opinion. You can never get too much advice from those people who know what they are doing.

And, I have to add, plan. Plan your business. Know what you’re getting into.

  1. “All you need to do is think success.”
    You can think success all you like, but you’ll get nowhere unless you “get off your bike,” sit down with your advisers and put your business ideas into action. Success has nothing to do with luck, or with visualization or any other “airy fairy” notion. Success comes through hard work, sound planning, adequate finance, motivation, family support, detailed research, knowledge of the market, seeing how your competitors are doing, setting achievable goals, balancing work with time out and using good old common sense.

Don’t think, plan. Make sure you know your market. Do your basic numbers. Set goals and track progress. Assign tasks and responsibilities. This isn’t the power of positive thinking, for heaven’s sake, it’s business.

  1. “You’ll be able to enjoy your life now, working whatever hours you want.”
    Don’t fall into this trap. You may find that when you start working for yourself you will have to put in more hours than when you were working for a boss. There is no such thing as closing time at 5 o’clock if you are self-employed. There are obviously more opportunities to restructure your hours to suit your lifestyle and your family, but never forget that if you don’t put the hours in, you will not produce sufficient income to make your business successful. You’ll need to discipline your time so your business hours are used only for business and then work in a balance so you have time out for relaxation and even a cup of coffee when you feel like it.

What? “You may find ” you’re working a lot? Count on it.

  1. “If you have a strong enough dream–you’ll make it.”
    Once again, you can dream all you like, but nothing’s going to happen unless you get out there and do it. Your dreams should be your motivation. While there is some truth to the saying–“visualize success in order to be successful”–this only applies to the fact that unless you can visualize success, then there is nothing to strive for. Anyone can dream, because dreams are easy and dreams are free. Converting those dreams to success and profit needs something else. That something is planning, effort and commitment. Don’t simply be a dreamer. Be a doer.
  2. “There’s no reason why you can’t be as successful as so-and-so.”
    This is not entirely a myth, because there is no reason why you can’t achieve some success. You have the same amount of brain matter as anyone else. You may even be smarter or more creative than others–but this can also work the other way. Other people may have qualities such as entrepreneurial drive or plenty of family money to help them in their business. Use the success of others as motivation, but never get the idea that being successful is going to be easy because so-and-so has done it. Your success or otherwise will depend entirely on you.
  3. “Don’t do it–too many people fail in business.”
    Statistics show that [more than] 70 percent of businesses close up or fail within the first three to five years. These are disastrous statistics. They’re enough to put anyone off planning any type of self-employment. Someone once told this story: ” ‘Maestro,’ said the surgeon to the famous musician, ‘I played for you at a master class. You advised me to stop playing professionally. You said I would never be great. I want to thank you because I listened to your advice and became a doctor.’ The maestro peered at the surgeon and said, ‘I don’t remember you–because I tell all my students that. The great ones ignore my advice and continue anyway.’ ” Don’t allow the “you’ll probably fail” advice to put you off. Follow what may have been in your heart for a long time. Sit down and talk with others and then assess whether you should continue after weighing up all the facts obtained from your research.
  4. “You should be OK, but you need to build up your confidence.”
    You may be lacking in confidence, but confidence is only a part of what you need to be truly successful in business. Your confidence will grow as you achieve some of the goals you set yourself. Confidence comes from experience and experience comes from mistakes. Mistakes come from just doing it. There’s nothing wrong with making a few mistakes along the way, but if you hold back because someone said you don’t have the confidence, then you will do yourself a disservice. If you lack confidence, attend some business courses, carry out research on your type of business, talk to other business owners in your industry, discuss it with an experienced and positive business adviser, etc. Confidence miraculously comes when you put that first foot forward. Just do it.
  5. “You can always return to what you were doing before.”
    Never allow yourself an easy way out–because at the first sign of trouble, you’ll take it. In any event, if you leave your well-paid job to go into business and then find you are not successful, it may not be that easy to return to your former trade or occupation. There is no doubt that you could do it, but you would lose a lot of ground by leaving a secure job and then returning and having to start from the ground floor again. Also, the fact that your business failed would not look too good on your resume. Remember–while it seems an easy move, in reality it may not be. Think winning not retreating. Take no prisoners.
  6. “Don’t worry, be happy.”
    If contemplating going into business, then this little saying is probably the silliest bit advice of all. Business is not a game. You will have hard times as well as good times. You will have problems–from staff, or being sued by another company. You can always count on a disaster or two, such as goods going astray or your premises being burgled. So prepare for it. Try also to keep in mind this one thing–stay out of court at all costs. Try to settle your differences together rather than going to law because it will cost “heaps” in money, time and heartache. Depending on the seriousness of the action, it will cost you in extra years stripped from your life from the stress of it all. Business generally brings with it worries–at times. However, to offset this–being in business can also bring happiness and satisfaction. If you study how to run a business, listen to advisers and work hard to follow the basic principles for success, then your chances of being happy, wealthy and fulfilled are pretty high.
  7. “You can quit anytime anyway.”
    If you buy a business with that thought in your heart, you will most likely not stay the distance. At the first sign of stress or difficulty you’ll give it away. Don’t quit. Nothing beats perseverance. The tiny drip of water hitting the iron bar–day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, second after second–will eventually corrode and smash it. Nothing can stand in your way if you are determined to win. No one can stop you succeeding except you. If you don’t quit you’ll make it! That’s the catch cry used by the multibillion-dollar AMWAY industry’s sales millionaires. Never, ever quit–ever.

I have to say, much as I like this post–and clearly I’m quoting a lot from it, which I don’t do unless I like it–I hate that last sentence. It’s business, not life. They’re right that quitting isn’t easy, but you do have to be able to quit when that’s the best next step.

The 10 silliest bits of advice to IGNORE when running a Business

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.