Business Owners: Who Are We Listening To?

If you are a business owner, you most likely receive a lot of unsolicited advice and unwelcome comments.  You may also receive advice that you pay for.  Who do you listen to and who do you ignore?  I listen to all of them.

Here's why:  The unsolicited advice and the unwelcome comments keep me motivated.  Not too long ago I ran into a guy who went into business a few years after I began Outfluence.  He took on a lot of debt and constructed an impressive facility for his business.  He got off to a great start.  The visuals were excellent.  But now the doors were closed and litigation was looming.  As we spoke, he asked me how my venture was doing.  I told him we were still "climbing the mountain."  He laughed and commented about how long we had "been at it."  I chose not to incur outside debt in my venture but instead chose to invest time and personal funds to gradually improve my product and slowly position my company.  I was still climbing while he had been derailed by debt. 

Another person told me that his friends told him that my business would not succeed because I didn't have the ability to make it work.  Now, how many times have you heard stories of successful people of whom similar comments were made?  Oh, he'll never be able to do it; or, she's too weak to withstand the pressure.  I chose to listen to successful people who were encouraging me to keep going, people who were leading me to resources that would support me, people who were where I wanted to be.  Why would I listen to someone who was going south when I wanted to go north? 

I have written before about my friend who counseled me that it sometimes takes 10 years for a business to reach maturity.  I am in a business that requires others to make a commitment to change.  Change does not occur quickly.  It took us six years to reach maturity in our business.  Most businesses fail in the first three years.  Had Ilistened to the naysayers, I may have ended my business journey too soon. 

Remember that clear vision you had for your business in the early days?  Chances are your vision has been changed by circumstances, or opportunity, or market conditions, or knowledge gained over time.  Listen to the marketplace, listen to your customers, listen to your heart, and persist.  Never quit.  Be open to change. 

Listen to everyone but listen most intently to people who are where you want to go.