[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, you’re a sponge, soaking up every piece of advice people give you, from mentors and bosses to friends and family. Overall, this is a good thing; it’s important to open your mind, learn new perspectives, and be open to different experiences. That’s how entrepreneurs are able to create new ideas and find alternative ways to solve problems.
Unfortunately, not all of the advice you get is going to be worth following. Some of it might even do more harm than good. The people telling you these tidbits have the best of intentions — helping you succeed as an entrepreneur — but the execution of this advice can lead to unexpected consequences and spectacularly bad results.
When you hear the following common pieces of advice, be sure to take them with a grain of salt:
1. Follow your passion.
Famed entrepreneur Mark Cuban once admitted “following your passion” to be one of the worst pieces of entrepreneurial advice he’d ever heard. Is it really such a bad thing? No. When you’re passionate about something, you’re naturally motivated to work hard at it, and even better, you enjoy working hard at it. The root of this advice is the fact that if you’re passionate about your business, you’ll have less stress and naturally work harder to achieve your goals.
Here’s the problem; you can’t start with a passion and hope to make it into a business. Your idea needs to be something that’s valuable to people, and passions can be anything. For example, you might be passionate about eating popcorn, but there isn’t much demand for a professional popcorn eater. Find a balance.
2. Work hard.
The phrase “work smarter, not harder” exists for a reason. There’s much value in hard work; it shows drive, motivation, and a willingness to make sacrifices. All of these are the good traits at the root of the advice.
The problem with this advice is its potential interpretation. Instead of seeing “hard work is important,” people see “hard work is all it takes to succeed” or “hard work is the only way to improve.” This isn’t always the case. In fact, working too hard — such as exhausting yourself by never taking breaks — can actually decrease your productivity and motivation. Not to mention, working hard for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way is akin to beating your head harder in order to penetrate a brick wall. Often, there are smarter solutions than raw man-hours; see what you can do to find them