Startups get a lot of advice. The problem with advice is that it’s almost always a product of our own unique experiences. It’s like a suit that we’ve had tailored to fit us perfectly. But then, we lend it freely and quickly to others, forgetting that because it’s bespoke, no-one else looks quite as good in it as we do and as a result, there’s a whole lot of ridiculous advice being shared. With that in mind, here’s a collection of 10 of the worst and most annoying startup advice and clichés:
1. “Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Mark Zuckerberg or some other statistical anomaly did x, so you should too”
Here, we attribute foresight and expertise to decisions that were more often that not merely lucky guesses, because we evaluate an already successful person, in hindsight. Enjoy vomiting? I’d suggest you read this blog post about what makes a great entrepreneur. It’s chock-full of bad advice and hyperbole about how famous entrepreneurs “made it”.
“Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said he didn’t take a day off for seven years when he launched his first venture, MicroSolutions.”
I hope the next thing he said was, “you know, I really regret that. A lot of personal relationships suffered as did my mental health. Probably, on reflection, I didn’t need to work that hard. If I’d designed my business better from the beginning, it wouldn’t have needed me constantly for 2,555 days in a row.”
Bad advice and clichés might seem like a light-hearted topic, but it’s actually quite sinister. It leads to wasted time and effort and a whole lot of hero worship around how many hours we work, or how many sacrifices we make. It results in a lot of people putting unnecessary pressure on themselves to act a certain way, often in the naïve belief that it’s admirable and that other successful people also behave this way. It’s remembering the exceptions, but filing them away as rules.