I was recently chatting to a friend who is starting an online lead generation business. As always, I get excited whenever someone wants to take control over their own destiny, regardless of the business model. He was asking advice about a particular aspect of his business, and about halfway through responding to his email, I realised that he was asking for advice, and I was giving my opinion. That might seem like a small difference, but it really isn’t.
Tess and I once heard that you should never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with, and that really resonated with us, and we’ve been very cautious about who we’ve taken advice from ever since. I guess it’s the old “never take marriage advice from an unmarried marriage counselor” principle. It’s not always that straightforward however.
For example, you might meet someone who is really successful in business, and it might seem perfectly natural to ask their advice. Look behind the curtains though, and you might find that he has worked 16 hours a day, 6 days a week for the last 30 years, and has been through three divorces and his kids no longer speak to him. Why does his personal life matter? Well, if the only way he knows how to be successful in business results in personal carnage, then that is the only way to approach business that he can teach you.
Tess and I have always had our relationship and time as our main priorities, so it means that when we take advice from other business owners, we need to make sure that their method of doing business will result in meeting our personal goals, not just big numbers on a profit and loss statement. We will certainly take advice from others who have clearly been successful, but we won’t necessarily just take it on-board without question.
The biggest problem we’ve found with this approach, is that you can’t always find the perfect mentors, who have had the exact same goals that we have, and have successfully accomplished them. The key is to seek advice, but don’t just apply it without question just because the guy that gave it to you owns a Lamborghini.
I ended up deleting what I was going to write in that email to my friend, and simply explaining to him that while I could give him my opinion, he would be better off seeking advice from someone who has seen some success with the same business model that he was using. I’m happy to give my opinion on other business models other than our own, but not give advice.