The Best Business Sense: Go with your gut and defend it!

doubt_diceBeing a business owner certainly has its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve been able to anticipate and prepare for most of these like the instability of income, unpredictable work hours and the emotional investment in the business. What I didn’t necessarily anticipate was the amount of unsolicited advice I would receive. I rationalize that this stems from the fact that I’m finally in a position of control and therefore people want to help me make the best decisions possible. While this sounds like a great thing, it becomes a problem for so many business owners when the swirling confusion of mixed advice makes it hard for us to clearly see the best path for our business – which can only be decided by each of us alone.

With almost two years under my belt of dodging and deciphering other people’s opinions about my business strategy, I’ve developed a short list of what I call “Simple Business Truths.” Maybe this is my own version of unsolicited business advice that I risk imposing on others, or maybe it’s the master list us business owners should keep near and dear to our hearts in moments of confusion. Regardless, I find the following to be harmless and helpful advice because it advocates that you ultimately go with your gut and forget what anyone else says. And if you ask me…that’s the best business advice you can (or maybe don’t) ask for!

Simple Business Truths:

1. So long as you can rationally defend your decisions, stick with your gut.

Since becoming a business owner I feel like I’ve become much more in tune to my intuition and have really started to rely upon it. I can’t say I’ve never second-guessed myself, especially in the beginning; however, I’ve now had enough examples to know that I should always go with my gut. My rule of thumb for gauging my intuition is to make sure I can also rationally defend why I feel the way I do. Ever since I was a child, I never liked hearing “because I said so” as a sole reason for why something had to be a certain way – and I don’t allow myself to use this as my backbone for decision making now. So long as you can rationally defend your reasons, stick with them!

2. People who try and tell you what to do are likely just as confused themselves.

Entrepreneurs tend to gather in chats and discussion groups like it’s an AA meeting. This provides a platform for sharing their “must-do’s” and all-knowing advice with fellow entrepreneurs. Whether they mean well or mean to intimidate, entrepreneurs taking other entrepreneurs’ advice can be toxic. Or as I often describe it – it’s the blind leading the blind. Let’s be honest, none of us can ever say with certainty that we know what we’re doing! It’s the road of the unknown for a reason. I caution fellow entrepreneurs on how much advice they take from others. This is a very individual journey and no two business models are the same. The variances between your business and someone else’s can make sharing advice as risky as sharing prescription meds.

3. Don’t fall for the next big trend – this too shall pass.

The entrepreneurial journey is already filled with enough hills and valleys; I don’t see the point in adding even more variables by early adopting the latest and most radical business trends before I can observe them in action for a little while. The entrepreneurs who do, often sacrifice the overall strategy and growth plan specific to their business all for the chance to say “I was first.”  If this is what drives your business decisions, you’ll soon enough be able to say you were first to fail or fold as well. The benefits of most trends are fleeting at best. And if they are worth implementing, they’ll stick around long enough for you to do so. Don’t willingly be the guinea pig!

4. Even a friend’s “best advice” could be unintentional sabotage.

Once you’re an entrepreneur, friends and family want to shower you with well wishes and their best business advice. But just like Grandma’s loving attempt at knitting you a Christmas sweater, even the thoughtful ones can be deceptively dangerous. You can always nod and agree, but before you run and implement such advice take a moment to qualify the person and where their expertise lies.

5. Remember – you built the business, you get first and final say!

When I first transitioned into the life of an entrepreneur, it was quite the mental shift. For a long time I still felt like an employee to someone else and would seek out advice from anyone who would provide it. I absorbed it like a sponge! I’ve since learned better and now remind myself that one of the biggest benefits I have as a business owner is first and final say in what decisions are made. Don’t hand this over to anyone else!

If you could add your own 6th “truth” to this list, what would it be? Comment and share some of the best or worst business advice you’ve ever received!

6 thoughts on “The Best Business Sense: Go with your gut and defend it!

  1. Your very first item is the best!!! Its hard to sometimes realize that your gut was given to you for a reason and when you ignore its message, you pay the consequence. It is a hard lesson to learn, but I find it rewarding when you are in tune with your goals, your passion, your mission, your vision, your focus! Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Misty! I still sometimes forget that my gut feelings aren’t meant to be a confusing voice, but a reliable internal compass for many of my decisions. It shouldn’t be the only basis for decision making, but it’s a great place to start.

  2. Stephanie, great insight as usual!

    I haven’t had quite the amount of unsolicited advise my first year, but I’ve sought out advise from other entrepreneurs such as yourself and have found the majority of that advise helpful, the rest I take with a grain of salt. (I must just choose the right folks to speak with! ..HA) And I couldn’t agree more on how no two business models are the same. I’ve experienced working for fledgling businesses who have followed peer strategy business consulting when the business model we were in was nothing like any of the so-called ‘peers’. It’s crazy for a business in a non-sales environment to try to provide a business strategy for a commission or project based business.

    My gut instincts usually provide for me, even though I haven’t always listened! This is a great reminder to go with it. Thanks for the common sense blog!

    1. Thank you for commenting, Maureen! I definitely agree that the key to all advice is to take it with a grain of salt. People can only offer advice based upon their own experiences and opinions, so it will never be fully “custom fit” for our exact needs. But it can be very helpful to get our wheels turning in the right direction.

  3. I think people too often underestimate the power of the “gut feeling” saying there’s no calculation or logic behind it. But truth be told, there’s no logic behind some of our passions. And yet, many of us have gone off and pursued those ‘gut feelings’ as business ventures. Yes, one’s ‘gut feelings’ shouldn’t be making all the decisions and definitely not solo, but the inkling is a good place to start.

    1. I agree that it’s a fine balance between making decisions with your gut and making decisions with your head. It’s convenient when they both agree, but that’s not always the case. I believe the more we listen to our gut feelings the more accurate and “honed in” they become.

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