The web is littered with articles telling entrepreneurs and business owners what they need to do to succeed. Sadly, most of the articles you will see have been written by an employee in a large company, who has no first hand experience or understanding of how to run a business.

This advice gets passed on and repeated until eventually it is considered “good common sense advice” by the mainstream media. Listening to people who have no experience often results in costly mistakes which can easily be avoided.

Below is a list of the worst business advice commonly given to entrepreneurs and business owners.

Think Big


Motivational quotes with beautiful backgrounds can be found on any social media platform. “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger”, “Think Big, Get Big”, “No one is too small for anything. You just have to think big!”.

Everyone wants to change the world. Everyone wants their business to be the one that shapes the industry and yours might be the one. However, this is not how big businesses start. Big businesses start small and build up momentum.

Mark Zukerburg didn’t set out to create the number one social media platform in the world. He built Facebook so his classmates in university could create profiles are share information. Jeff Bezos built amazon to sell books online. No one would have taken him seriously if he pitched it as an “everything store”.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming what your business can become. However, your business plan should be rooted in reality. Solve a problem that people need help solving. If you find a good solution, word will spread.

“No Pain, No Gain”


A catchphrase invented to get people off the sofa and into the gym has leaked into the business world as sound advice. It can be roughly translated to “you have to work through the pain to get results”.

The problem with this statement is that it implies that working on your business has to be painful, you have to suffer in order to succeed. Viewing your business in this negative frame of mind can lead business owners astray by continuing to pursue something that isn’t working. Often, business owners will reason “I’m not trying hard enough, I just have to keep pushing” when in reality it’s probably just a bad business strategy.

Not every minute of running your business will be smooth sailing, but you should be seeing as many (if not more) wins than losses. If something isn’t working, you shouldn’t push through the “pain” but rather re-evaluate if there’s a better way. (there always is)

Let’s leave the catchphrases to personal trainers in the gym and out of the world of business where they don’t belong.

You Have To Work 16-18 Hours Per Day To Be Successful


You often hear this advice from the likes of Gary Vee in videos with clickbait sounding titles like “what are you doing when nobody’s watching”. Don’t get me wrong, Gary is not trying to lead people astray. He is answering the question based on HIS particular situation and experience.

Let’s step back and analyse what this means for us.

First, working crazy hours in no way guarantees that we will ever reach his level of success (top 1%-2%). Despite popular belief, the starting point (your skills + experience + starting capital) play a big role in how fast/far you can grow. This is not taking into consideration the element of luck required to be “the one” in demand which comes down to being in the right place at the right time.

The second problem with his statement is that he puts the emphasis on “time” rather than “result”. Which at the end of the day is what matters to the business. A very simple example of this is: 1 person spends 16 hours sending out emails one by one and another finds a tool to automate the process and achieves the same result.

These statements doesn’t place any importance on what is being done with this time. It also sets up new business owners for burnout which is very harmful in the long run. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.

A better way to run a business which I learned working for a successful startup is monthly goals. Each person in the team sets their own goals (top 5’s) and if the goals were met, the team member would receive a bonus. Although each team member set their own goals, these were publicly displayed for all to see.

Follow Your Passion


“Follow your passion and you will never work a day in your life ”.  A very old and popular mantra by the Chinese philosopher Confucius. This sounds great in theory but your business is as much about your customers as it is about you.

There are many things people are passionate about that would not make a viable business. Hell, some people are passionate about watching “house of cards” on Netflix and relaxing on the beach but these things are unlikely to become a profitable business.

Another factor to consider is that you can lose your passion for something when you have to spend every day thinking about it and working on it. Sometimes it’s best to leave your passions for your leisure time and be passionate about your business instead. Focus your energy on fulfilling your customer’s passions, needs and desires. This way you can be truly happy running your business.

Don’t Pursue Your Idea: The Market Is Too Crowded


This is one of the most common fears for entrepreneurs starting out. Thankfully, this advice is completely flawed. A business relies on demand in order to make money and nothing is truly original.

If the market is flooded with similar products, this is a good indication that demand exists. If there are no competition however, it could be an indication that there is no demand. Starting up a business with a completely unique product is actually more challenging and requires extensive market research and testing.

In order to compete in a crowded market, your business needs to offer a combination of goods or services which is better than your competition. Instead of focusing on replicating an existing business model, focus on how your can improve the experience.

For example: there are thousands of online stores that offer the same products, but some succeed where others fail and that all depends on the value they bring to the customers. This value can take the form of excellent customer support, guides and educational materials for complicated tech products, free or international shipping etc. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, just find a way to improve on it.

Running your own business is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do. Eliminating the bad business advice can make it a little bit easier.

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Did we miss some bad business advice? Let us know in the comments below