Thursday, September 18, 2014

Advice good and bad

     Free daily tips, info, advice, ideas and examples from businesses
     from my lifetime of starting, operating and growing businesses of my own. 

     Advice is everywhere. It comes from everyone. As a small business person, you are bombarded with advice.

     Most advice has little value. It comes from people who have never run a business. 

     Example: Back in the early 1990s, I joined a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a business counselor. At that time, I had experience in starting up and operating three different businesses. I was appalled to learn that most of the business counselors in that state's SBDCs had never run a business. They had experience in education and government, but no background in actually running a business. I could only imagine the advice they struggled to give to the people who came with real problems. Unless you've experienced it, you cannot relate to the acid burn that happens in your stomach when the cash flow stops flowing. Well, I lasted two years at that SBDC, leaving to establish the private Business Owners Institute in New Jersey. My first rule was that every employee must have run a business before being hired.

     You deserve the best advice you can get. Frequently the people offering advice do not have the experience that makes it valuable. Would you hire an electrician who had read all the manuals but who had no hands-on experience?

     Example: Candy watched as her gift shop went downhill--sales dropped off over a two year period. She sought out an attorney who advised bankruptcy. Her accountant concurred. Then she met a business woman at a networking event who showed Candy how she might turn around her operation. Candy took the advice to heart--she would target well-heeled customers by offering gift items handmade by artists and artisans. She held a big sale to reduce and clear out her old stock. At the same time, she contacted jewelry makers, weavers and fiber artisans, wood turners, glass workers, potters and ceramicists, even furniture makers to make arrangements to display and sell their items. She held a big grand re-opening of her gift shop, promoting the event by partnering with a local winery and a caterer. Today, Candy's gift shop is a very different destination, attracting a new customer base from a wider area than before. 

     Some of the best advice I ever received came from my father. He ran a large dairy farm, and I grew up milking cows and learning how to do the next thing. He once said to me: "If you don't know how to do something, find someone who does, and learn." 

     You deserve to seek out the best advice you can find. Maybe it works for you, maybe not. Your job is to sort it out. And never give up.  

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