Why I No Longer Ask Business Advice From Non-Entrepreneurs

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There is one common mistake you'll make when thinking about business development and strategies if you don't actively run a business. I am yet to come across any non-entrepreneur who isn't making that mistake. Heck, I used to make that mistake even until my second year in business. And worse, you won't recognize it till its consequences hit you.

What is that mistake?

Over the three years I've been in business for myself, there are two categories of answers I get whenever I ask for advice. No matter the type of business advice I ask for. One category is filled with suggestions of what more to do, excellent ideas on how to do more and get more results. The other category is filled with life experiences, what they did or their close friends did while in a similar situation. On the surface, nothing is wrong with either category and sometimes the fundamentals behind the practical takeaways from them are the same. So why then do I separate them?

One category is usually from non-entrepreneurs loading me with concepts and theories they've gained from reading and thinking about how businesses successfully run. The problem with the answer is that they have no context or should I say they merge multiple contexts. They sound nice and sure to give desired results but applying them is often downright impossible or unreasonable. The suggestions of what more to do ignore real limitations you'll have in business. Most notable of which are you don't have unlimited time, you don't have unlimited energy, you don't have unlimited money to pay all the staff you are going to offload some work to and you can't, without running mad, manage too many activities. 

The other category of advice are much more practical even when they lack the theoretical depth of the first category. Because they are built on real experiences, they end up being more reasonable to implement. Usually, they won't just point you to what more to do (which is often the main message in the other category), they point you to what to stop doing, what to do differently and what to expect.

And on top of these practical differences is the disturbing fact that non-entrepreneurs take more offence when you don't follow their advice. They talk like they are never wrong and that even if not all of their advice work, some will work and whatever value they add to your business is extra value you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. And yes, they are right. The only problem is at what cost? It doesn't do me any good, in fact, does me many harm, to put in energy and resources worth of N500 for a value add of N100. 

And that is why I no longer ask business advice from non-entrepreneurs. There are exceptions, though. :)


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