Only take advice from people who are qualified to give it

The other day, I was telling someone about a couple of ideas I had for my business. I was excited to share my thoughts with them as they are someone I admire and respect.

But with every idea I mentioned, they responded with a criticism about why it wouldn’t work. After listing a small handful of ideas I had been working on, I gave up. And after our conversation, I felt more than a little down about things. I found myself feeling frustrated and even a little depressed at my entire business!

Then I had a couple of realizations that changed everything:

  • I remembered that it’s my business, not theirs. And what’s more, my business has never been stronger. I’m in demand; I’m fully booked; and I’m working with clients I love. I had no reason to feel down about my overall business just because of their negativity.
  • I thought about who was giving the criticism: I admire them but not as business owners. They don’t own a business. They aren’t writers. They don’t work in the same target market as I do. In other words, their criticisms weren’t rooted in any kind of accurate assessment of the market.
  • I recalled the amount of work I had done to come up with the ideas I had developed. When presenting them to my friend, they were already well-developed ideas I had thought and about researched. But the person providing the feedback was somehow able to dampen my enthusiasm with some well-meaning feedback. However, their feedback was off-the-cuff negative opinions without the amount of thought and research I had put into the ideas already.
  • I also thought about this person’s level of investment in my business — zero. It didn’t matter how much work I put into implementation and it didn’t matter whether I succeeded or failed, it would make no financial difference to them.

As I read my realizations above, I have to laugh and wonder “how did I ever let that person get me down?” But the problem is: They weren’t just some random stranger off the street; they are a friend whose opinion I respect in many other areas of my life. So I heard their feedback on my business with the same weight and authority that I hear feedback on other areas in my life. I took their advice too personally and it got me down for a while. I had to intentionally bounce back from it.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time this has happened. I can recall several times throughout the life of my business where I have received business advice from completely unqualified people — people who have never owned a business and could never break free from the comfortable chains of employment. And their advice has almost unequivocally been useless: It was advice that would be neither practical nor profitable; it has been advice that is almost always risk averse. But it was always well-meaning advice from people I respect so it forces me to pause and think.

But it shouldn’t. I need a filter that automatically and instantly filters out any advice from unqualified people.

If you own a business, there’s a good chance that you’re in a similar situation. Maybe you have friends or family who you respect and admire and who are not shy about giving you their opinion. But just because you respect and admire them doesn’t mean they are qualified to give you business advice. Business can be hard even on the best of days. Guard yourself against the well-meaning of advice of people who aren’t afraid of giving you their completely unqualified advice.