Avoid Taking Lessons On Entrepreneuring From The Wrong Person(s) – entrepreneur
When You Don’t Have A Mind Of Your Own, Everybody Becomes Your Adviser
There was one thing common to most of the people who kept offering me advice, that I gradually came to realize – especially after following some of it and suffering unbelievable hardship as a result.
It was the fact that few (if any) of them had done what I was trying to do before – or even knew anyone who had, remotely. To put it another way, these people were all offering me advice based on experiences they had NEVER had! Over time, and after recovering some, I learnt to only “listen” to them without “hearing” whatever they said, and found I was better off.
Thankfully, my extensive reading has helped me discover that I am not alone in feeling this way about those who offer advice in this manner. Robert Kiyosaki, in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad Warner Books Edition, May 2000(page 154, paragraph 2) wrote about people he had encountered who had questioned his unorthodox investment strategies. Just like those I described, he said they had never done it before, and yet insisted on telling a person who was doing it why s/he should not! Now, how reasonable is that?
“You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it” – Albert Camus
“Know when to tune out. If you listen to too much advice, you may wind up making other people’s mistakes” – Ann Landers
This does not mean that only persons who have had experience doing what you are engaged in can advise you. I am only saying that you need to find a way to properly evaluate the potential “worth” of advice offered you, by carefully studying those who offer them, and the circumstances under which they do so, BEFORE deciding to use such advice.
In my article titled Do You Need A Business Plan, If Your Biz Idea Is New, Untested Or Unproven? I pointed out that Cynthia Kersey(Author of “UNSTOPPABLE: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You“), in her book described experts as having an “ego investment” in the very thing that they are considered “expert”. As such, they might sometimes struggle to be objective in giving you advice – depending on how they see what you want to do.
Especially instructive, I believe, is the additional point I made that an expert could even be someone who once had to struggle – in the past – to secure marketplace acceptance(for what was then an unproven idea), and is now successful, plus a respected authority in his/her field. Such a person may not always maintain an entrepreneurial mode of thinking or could develop what I call an “expert’s mindset”. A good example of this is probably seen in the quote below:
“640K ought to be enough for anybody” – Bill Gates, 1981
Other authentic achievers have expressed similar sentiments to the one mentioned in the last paragraph. In my ebook titled How To Help Your Child Discover His/Her Purpose In Life, I warned the reader/parent against taking advice from others indiscriminately (see excerpt below):
—–Start Of Excerpt—–
First, I will borrow from Henry Ford who once said:
“The moment one gets into the expert state of mind, a great number of things become impossible” – Henry Ford
Henry Ford reportedly distrusted experts, believing they were too familiar with the reasons that something could not be done.
James R. Cook(Author of The Startup Entrepreneur) wrote that it is important to keep in mind the fact that sometimes those we ask for advice will give us responses based on how what we want to do affects them. In other words, what they tell you CAN be determined by whether what THEY think you wish to do(or the implications of it) will have positive or negative consequences for them.
Following from the above, I will end by saying that in exploring ways to give your child a head start in life, you might want to focus on discovering what works, and not just what someone else thinks will not. Maybe you’ll end up being the one (or one of those) who discovers the better way of doing it. If you fail to give it a try, you – and YOUR child – stand to lose more than you are likely to gain.
—–End Of Excerpt—–
There Is A Bigger Threat To The Startup Entrepreneur
But then the problem posed by the foregoing individuals(who want to give advice), to the baby entrepreneur is even mild.
What about when aspiring entrepreneurs, are made to believe that a certain group or organisation can help them prepare to go into entrepreneuring successfully? What about those instances when they have to entrust themselves into the hands of an elite group, that supposedly specializes in providing education crucial for entrepreneurial survival/success?
The legitimacy conferred on such organisations by large institutions (some international in nature), make them potentially powerful in terms of the impact they can make on those who are exposed to them. Some are funded to provide support for establishment of small businesses and other entrepreneurial ventures.
However, the ones I am really concerned about are those run by persons who lack practical experience in entrepreneuring. They are the ones who (tend to) do things that prevent the aspiring entrepreneurs from getting a fair and impartial opportunity to pursue their dreams. Or how do you explain the case of an organisation, in trying to “admit” participants into its programme for entrepreneurs, deciding that aptitude tests will be the best way to determine people who qualify to join?
I concede that the foregoing may not happen in ALL cases, but my experiences suggest that the instances when they do occur are significant enough to warrant attention. (To be fair, there are probably more of such people/organisations in my part of the world, than will be found in developed societies where recorded accomplishments of past/present entrepreneurs have – over time – influenced the “thinking” about how to develop entrepreneurial talent).
These people/organisations frequently lack “real-world relevant ideas” about how to help those who come to them successfully launch their entrepreneurial careers – and often neglect to engage those who do. In many cases, they possess degrees/qualifications from business schools, which have been variously described – by veteran entrepreneurs – as being preoccupied with teaching about “what is possible“.
Certain accomplished entrepreneurs – some of who succeeded despite having little(or no) formal education for instance – have pointed out that business schools often lack understanding of the essential roles played by the creative instincts and desires of the entrepreneur, the brute stamina s/he applies in meeting the challenge of adversity in form of repeated disappointments, market place rejection etc – AND the equivalent potential benefits those experiences afford the willing entrepreneur, towards achieving desired success(es).
” while formal schooling is an important advantage, it is not a guarantee of success – nor is its absence a fatal handicap ” – Ray Kroc
A Business Owner Is NOT Necessarily An Entrepreneur!
By the way, let me point out here very clearly that NOT every business owner will qualify to be called an Entrepreneur – in the true sense and meaning of the word. I hasten to make this point because some people would argue that the organisations I write about usually invite successful “business owners” to speak to aspiring entrepreneurs.
There are specific qualities peculiar to the person who is a true entrepreneur – the most important being related to their mental attitudes or psychological dispositions. Many so called business owners tend to lack such qualities, which is probably why they never achieve the heights that those described as entrepreneurs do.
Entrepreneurs frequently pioneer new ways of thinking and doing things – which implies that they have to challenge existing norms, and fight resistance to the changes they propose over sometimes protracted periods. As a result, they often get described by others as “unreasonable” for their seeming unwilligness to accept “what is” (i.e the status quo), and their insistence instead, on influencing action towards “what(they believe) can be“: eventually bringing about changes which, quite often, benefit others. The following quote illustrates the point being made here quite well:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man” — George Bernard Shaw
Business owners of the type I describe are often persons who start a venture based on the new “order” established by an entrepreneur who successfully introduced a new way of thinking or doing things.
So you see, the entrepreneur tends to be a leader and change agent, who never accepts the status quo and is always looking for a way(s) to improve or make things better. Other people tend to be willing to leave things as they are, and carry on as they have always done.
In my article titled Should You Quit Your Job or Start Your Business Part-time? I expressed the following opinion: “most of those who are risk averse are NOT likely to willingly expose themselves to enough of the ‘educative’ experiences that will mould them into fully fledged entrepreneurs. Such people remain in my opinion better described as business owners. “
IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION : I use the term “Business Owner” in this article, to describe – in the simplest, most basic sense, someone who runs a business of his/her own, in certain cases employing a number of people. Note that this person may or may not be employed on a normal day job. It does not equate to the much more sophisticated “Business Owner” concept described by Robert Kiyosaki in his work on Cash Flow etc.
Organisations Run By “Realists” Cannot Teach Entrepreneuring
Organisations run by people who have not experienced the excitement and thrill of successfully pursuing seemingly unachievable entrepreneurial goals, with limited resources, tend to be focussed on what they consider “reality”. That attitude ultimately stifles the budding entrepreneur’s instincts, leaving him/her seriously lacking in the ability to increase his/her chances of success, by developing – and competently applying – an essential innate “sense”:intuition.
Without hands-on experience, the teacher will likely struggle to communicate effectively a subject that is practical, to the learner. People who run the organisations I describe here need to understand that if they lack entrepreneurial experience, they are very unlikely to be able to adequately prepare the minds of startup entrepreneurs for what they are going to face. Teaching concepts written in books can be quite boring for the “learner”, if the teacher is unable to add real-life perspective using true stories, and anecdotes(plus simulations, games etc based on real-life situations).
It would be logical to expect that most of what a prospective entrepreneur will be taught are things that s/he would encounter in the process of starting/running a business. So, it follows that the person to “teach” the aspiring entrepreneur would be someone who has acquired first hand knowledge and expertise deriving from “hands-on” experience – and/or close association with “authentic” others who have had such experiences. Incidentally, the latter approach was employed by Napoleon Hill to write famous books like Think and Grow Rich, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude etc
Organisations that wish to teach or support entrepreneurs must be prepared to engage other entrepreneurs with appropriate knowledge and experience to help them – in advisory roles, or better still as leading players(teaching, coaching/mentoring etc).
In my opinion, there is no role in the process of educating aspiring entrepreneurs, for aptitude tests – absolutely none! Their use can in fact do more damage than good to those who have to take them. Many of the renowned entrepreneurs that we know today, are(or were) people who in their early childhood or later years either had problems with formal schooling, or failed to complete it for reasons such as a desire to pursue an idea for a new business. True stories of university/business school dropouts, who later returned – on invitation(having achieved phenomenal successes) – to give speeches to graduating students at institutions they never finished from, abound – and confirm the point being made. THAT should tell you something! : – )
FINAL WORDS: In searching for advice to help you make good progress in your entrepreneurial journey, you may find that you get more offers than you can cope with. To make sense of it all, you will need to do a lot of careful listening and thinking. The ideas offered in this article can help you intelligently decide WHO to listen to, or take seriously, andWHEN. You can therefore increase your chances of picking the best advice by applying them.
To your success!
1. When I Quit My Job, They Called Me Mad – And I Felt So, So Sorry for Them!
2. Should You Quit Your Job or Start Your Business Part-time?
3. Why I Do What I Do The Way I Do It
4. Practical Guiding Philosophies For Entrepreneurial Success