Bad advice from successful entrepreneurs

It’s now been nearly five years since I entered the world of entrepreneurship from my background of the corporate world of freelancing and employment.

Ever since I took that step of leaving the glamorous role of Sales and Marketing Manager at Airbus, I have been taking advice from experienced business owners, mentors, business advisors, and coaches.  To add to this, I listen to successful entrepreneurs known to the world like Tony Robbins, Donald Trump and the like.

BelieveThroughout, I have heard one thing with consistency; the importance of believing in yourself, your expertise and your purpose.  I have learnt a lot over these years and have identified a number of speakers I rate, and those I think give truly valuable advice – useful for start-ups and experienced growing businesses.

Back in 2008, as a start-up, my best strategy to get my name out was via a networking group called BNI (Business Network International).  It is time consuming, strict, regimented but buying into that, made it work for most of the time I used it.  Eventually, I concluded that the organisation and many of its members where not ready to move into the world of tech or Social Media which is what my business is all about.  So, BNI had outlived its usefulness to my business.  With so many more networking groups to attend for a much lesser fees, and much bigger forward thinking businesses, the choice of what you spend your time on, now is much wider than say a few years ago.

Nevertheless, BNI was great as a stepping stone.  The one thing that experienced BNI members teach you is to stick to your main full time business when pitching, presenting and promoting.  The reason for this is that you risk muddying your message in the few seconds you have to promote.  It makes sense.  Mainly because there is only so much information others can take in when you only have 60 seconds to pitch in each week.

TROther networks appeared new ones with frustrating teething problems, others that were more casual and generally consisted of hobbies rather than real businesses.  Then you have the higher level ones with high value membership but with benefits to match such as the IOD (Institute of Directors).  Events such as workshops, conferences, motivational speeches all added to the business acumen that I was initially missing – and they still do.

I have special respect for businesses that I have watched grow, and entrepreneurs I have seen become well known for building up several businesses.  I always aim to be speaking to these guys and girls to find out more.  I love it when they share their experiences, self-doubt moments and the negativity that they have had to deal with on the way to success.  It gives me hope and from what I understand, I am not alone.

However, the one bit of crap advice many (not all) of these successful entrepreneurs give just puzzles me.  I am not talking about the Tony Robbins or the T Harv Ekers of the world, beliefisshotI am talking about a successful entrepreneur who hopes to one day be the Tony Robbins of the world.  The advice is of the type that is actually very negative.  Put simply, they state that if you run two businesses, it’s because you don’t believe in one of them.  They say you simply lack belief in it and may even go as far as saying you are not a “finisher”.  It’s a massive assumption and an incorrect one in many cases.  More importantly, it is contradicting because many of them have run more than one business at the same time and now actually boast about it.  They use this very concept to hype up their environment when they start their speeches.  So how is it that they then state you have a “belief” issue?

I do believe that when an individual starts several ideas and does not take them to completion, they are not clear on what their purpose is, or what they really want to achieve.  Usually, they are just trying to make an income from something, but have not clearly identified their skills, expertise or even passion.

cardholderHowever, I do not believe that you can only have one passion and that you should restrict yourself to one business.  I know many successful individuals whom may not be public speakers as such, but are doing very well in achieving their goals, making a substantial income and pushing several businesses forward with passion.

The main difference I feel is what the ultimate goal is in business.  If you are not clear in what you want to achieve, then you are likely to say it is simply money.  Most people that state wealth as their main goal; have not worked out their “why” for doing what they do.

BusinessandPassionI have only identified this since I have recently opened up an additional income stream which is separate from my business which has been up and running since 2008.  It was a decision based on my beliefs, passion and mostly, my purpose.  The difference between the two businesses is simply that one is a professional passion; the other is a personal passion.  Both are a part of my personality, the same personality!  As it happens, there is a Social Media link between the two.

I still go by the fact that muddying your single message is a risky way to do business especially in particular networks, but done carefully, you will find many others doing the same and doing well.  An example of doing it well is perhaps the focus on how the two businesses (product or service) are related to each other, or why they are both related to your own purpose in life and business.  I have found this to be most useful when presenting both businesses in any one scenario.  However, this can only be done in certain environments.  Ideally, you need a database of contacts for each business and be careful to not actively mix the two.  Rather, keep the focus on the one business in a single environment but subtly you can present both at any one time simply through conversation about your purpose or passion in life.

ManageMultipleBusinessesA particularly good online network for this is something like Facebook.  In Facebook, a business is represented by a Page.  The profile of the individual (and it should only be the individual, not a business) can on the other hand, manage several Pages.  So my personal profile can represent both (or more) businesses.  The same applies to many other online networking platforms and indeed some face to face networking groups.  Events and conferences are a good example, you could talk about the business most relevant to different individuals – at one event.

The mere fact that you can actually do this in several online and offline networks proves the demand for such activities.  Particularly in the current climate, many are giving it their all, but I will say, the ones doing it well are those that have genuine belief in their businesses, regardless of the fact that it may be one or multiple businesses.

I am still surprised at how many well-known entrepreneurs have the audacity to state such negativity towards multiple business holders.  Particularly when many top entrepreneurs have indeed done the same and managed to make an impact of the type they set out to, successfully.  It is a pathetic demonstration of their ego resulting in ill-advice for those looking to be a success.

What is your view?  If you are running more than one business, feel free to comment and let us know how you handle things.  What would you suggest as a good strategy for getting the word out for both?  It would also be nice to hear from others that have had great success promoting both businesses.


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