by Mary Smith, Associate Consultant at IA Business Advisors
You have just left school and are starting a new job, or you’re starting your first business and stepping out into the world as an entrepreneur. One of the first experiences you had is people who give you unsolicited advice. Not all advice should (or should) be taken to heart. Advice that is given unsolicited and unpaid can be misleading. Most people have no intention of misleading us. You might honestly think that they are giving great advice and that their intentions are usually in the right place. Searching through this bombardment of advice can be difficult, but it becomes easier when a trusted mentor or industry influencer is used as a sounding board.
There are several reasons why advice should be carefully analyzed before it is applied to your life, team, or business. One of them is that the implementation of free advice and the negative situation it creates is the opposite of what you want it to be. We don’t want to give the impression that people cannot be trusted because there are many believable and knowledgeable people out there who are worth listening to. We only recommend fact-checking advice and information given to you with a mentor.
To make the best decisions for you and your business, you need to know what you are getting yourself into.
Free advice can come from anywhere.
Advice can come from experts (on blogs, articles, podcasts, or even someone you hire), but also from your great-uncle at a Christmas party or an eavesdropper who overheard you talking about a problem in line. While these individuals may be trained and experienced, it does not mean that they are necessarily trained and experienced in your industry or on your subject. While their intentions may be good, they do not require you to accept and follow the free advice.
Since free advice can come from anywhere, it’s important to find a mentor or influencer in your industry that you can trust. This does not mean that all of their advice will be perfect. Find someone whose opinion you can trust who can act as a sounding board for the other free advice you get. Again, not all free advice is bad. All you have to do is consider how the advice has worked in other situations and how it might work in your situation. It is best if you have someone in your industry to discuss this with you.
Free advice has no responsibility.
Most advice is usually given with the assumption that it will be easy to implement. However, advice and change in the workplace require time and patience to be effective. Accountability is important when implementing advice because what if the advice doesn’t work or you misinterpret it? If the advice came from a stranger, how can you ask more questions days, weeks, or months later? People cannot always be held accountable for free advice because it is not advice that you paid for.
If you can find a mentor or influencer in your industry who is trustworthy and who you get along with, they may be ready to serve as your accountability. After using them as a sounding board for free advice from them or others, they will be available to answer any questions you may have and brainstorm solutions to any problems you may have. They communicate with you, connect with you, allow questions, and make sure you use the advice to the best of your ability.
The best way to sift through all of the free advice you receive on a daily basis is to do your own research, verify facts, and find a trusted mentor. As a leader, it’s your job to protect your team from bad advice that could negatively affect your company. It is your job to fix problems and find solutions. This doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. In fact, you shouldn’t be doing it alone. Look for a mentor in your industry to help and support you as you grow. Mentors are necessary to any growth, but can be especially important when it comes to the intricacies of business.
Mary Smith is an Associate Consultant with IA Business Advisors and a Kolbe Certified Consultant. She and her father, Dr. Brian Smith, developed The I in Team Series to help leaders find, be, and build their positive impact. The latest title in the series is “Individual Advantages: Be the” I “in the team”.