4 min read
Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
I started my business, Headbands of Hope, as a student. Having no business experience, I relied on outside advice to start and answered all my questions. During this time, I have received some of the best advice I have brought with me since then. Much of the success we have had today is due to the incredible people who have lent their voices and expertise to help build my vision.
Related: Why Even Smart Advice Is Wrong At Least Half The Time
But with so many people talking to you, there is bound to be bad advice. I didn’t know it at the time, but here are four tips that I’m glad I didn’t listen to:
1. Start with financing.
A business professor told me to start talking to investors and get the funds to start my business. Instead, I did everything I could to be as economical as possible and use my own money to grow organically. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t jump at the thought of giving up on equity so early, especially when I didn’t need it.
I started with minimal inventory and growing up, I was able to buy more.
There are a ton of companies where funding is a necessity at first, but take a good look at your idea to decide if yours is one of them.
2. Find a partner.
I found my idea for myself through a summer internship. One piece of advice I received was to find a partner I trusted to support me in the business. Many large companies are run by partnerships, but I don’t think this is a necessity for a successful business. If anything, I really enjoyed being 100% in control and building my idea exactly the way I envisioned it.
Having a business partner can be great for productivity, but if he isn’t there, don’t force him.
3. Have an exit strategy.
Before I even made my first sale, I was asked what my exit strategy was. I haven’t even started, and I’m supposed to know how I’m going to end? I had goals and dreams for the company and where I wanted it to go in the future, but I had no answer if or when I wanted to sell it.
Related: 8 LikendisLikeship Stars Share Their Secret Sauce To Success
One of the biggest mistakes I see made by entrepreneurs is to use the potential sale of a business as the main motivator. If the heart rate of your business is withdrawing money, your decisions are based on that and not on your values or your customers.
Focus on creating the best business possible. If you end up selling your business on the go, this should only be the icing on the cake of your career.
4. Don’t dream too big.
I remember sitting in another office of a business professor and talking to him about my idea for a socially responsible business that offers blindfolds for children with cancer. He asked me what was my dream for the company. I told him that I wanted to be the leader in headbands and possibly donate headbands to every children’s hospital in the United States (which we just finished a month ago).
The teacher told me that I should think smaller and more realistic. He suggested that I think of Headbands of Hope as LIVESTRONG bracelets – a fashion from one to two years with only one style of headband, then call it a day.
Today we have over 100 articles and release new designs every month. We are in over 300 stores in the United States and Canada and have a thriving e-commerce site.
I understand that he wanted me to simplify my idea and be more “realistic”. But I try to keep my reality close to my dreams instead of separating them.
As an entrepreneur, almost everyone feels compelled to tell you how to run your business. It doesn’t matter if this is your first business and you start with a blank slate (like I did) or you are a serial entrepreneur, it is important to be open to ideas, but also to develop a filter for advice that should be dropped.
Related: 4 Pieces of Bad Startup Tips You Should Ignore