HOW MANY TIMES have you ever been asked for your opinion on something? The number is probably countless. It is probably safe to bet that, at some point, you have been summoned to give a different type of an opinion to someone which many times, comes in the form of advice. 
Oftentimes, as any extrovert might do, I proffer my opinions to anyone who will listen. From my random musings on the latest movies at the Cineplex, to the best coffeehouses in the city, I can usually be counted on by my friends and colleagues to spout off, at will, my proverbial “two cents worth” of free speech regarding, virtually, any social subject. However, when it comes to delivering advice, especially business advice, I draw in the reigns.
Bad business advice is, quite possibly, the most damaging form of outside assistance anyone in business can give…or receive. Yet, I would imagine that we have all been on both sides of the equation. Bad business advice comes in many forms, too. Here’s a quick rundown of ways to avoid bad business advice altogether:
  • If you ask for advice from someone not qualified to give it, you will get what you asked for
  • Don’t offer advice to anyone unless you are proficient in that particular area of discussion
  • Just because someone is successful does not make them an expert in every business application
  • Whether giving or receiving advice, have substantiating evidence of the topic in question
Bad business advice can be overcome by simply not looking for it where it can’t be found, such as through unqualified sources. With that being said, if you own or even make decisions for your business, it is imperative you also seek out the proper channels to secure the information and guidance you require for making sound business assessments. Use these guidelines for putting you on the right track in finding your advice on the good side instead of the bad:
  • Seek out experts in every field of need
  • Form an advisory group to guide your business from an outsider’s perspective
  • Use the Internet, print material, and/or any other resource for gathering intel on your subject matter
  • Double-check your findings
  • Apply your advice in methods non-threatening to your business prior to a full-scale implementation
  • Just like a medical diagnosis, get a second opinion on any advice that is crucial to your success
  • Use…just to be sure!
Bad business advice should be avoided at all times, even if it’s from your dad or a close family member.  I have a close friend whose dad constantly attempts to give me business advice, even after all my years of being in business for myself. Every time I see him, I am subjected to his ideas on how to take my companies to the next level using his latest business philosophies or “cutting-edge” plans for my success.   I am as politically correct as I can be in this regard, but will always defer to the experts when requiring key guidance and leadership on an issue I am unqualified to decipher on my own.
Although seemingly quite harmless, the smallest amount of bad business advice can change the course of your success or even take your business down altogether. Unless the person delivering the advice for your business has a track record of success in the area of concern, thankfully decline the advice, or if that would make the situation awkward, just smile, nod, and remember that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You would never have a person who isn’t a fully-qualified medical provider diagnose your illness and then prescribe surgery. The same thinking should be applied to your business when you need professional advice in accounting, legal, advertising, sales & marketing, and consulting, to name a few.
Once you’ve made it in business, make sure to practice the same principles when delivering advice to others. Unless you’ve “been there” and “done that,” and now are considered an authority in the field, do your company a favor and bite your tongue. We were born with two ears and only one mouth for a reason, so take my advice and do the right thing; avoid bad business advice in general. Whether you’re giving it or receiving it, nobody wins when the advice is just plain bad.