Have you ever shrieked (out loud) when you’ve read or heard someone giving potentially business-destroying advice?
Maybe you imagine kicking that person in the shin until they take it back?
No? Just me?
I’ve had a bunch of those “Noooooooooooooo…don’t tell people that” moments lately.
The more I tune into Periscope and online courses and the more I read other peoples’ blog posts, the more crazy bad business advice I see and hear.
A marketing “guru” saying that if you know your target market and their language, writing a sales email should take about 15 minutes. (Yeah…if you want to wind up scarfing mint chocolate chip ice cream by the gallon due to your failed launch, go ahead.)
A social media “expert” saying that you don’t need to blog (or have your own website) if you’re on social media. (MySpace. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.)
A well-known creative entrepreneur saying that if you only have 20 minutes to write a blog post, write and publish your next blog post in the next 20 minutes. (If you want to train your blog readers to stop paying attention to your blog posts, sure, publish crap.)
Sometimes, I read a blog post and my first thought is, “Whaaaaaat? That’s terrible advice.” And, then I realize that it’s not bad advice but it’s just not something that works for my business.
We need to be able to filter out advice that just won’t work for us. Having lots of treasure maps that lead to the same destination makes this world a wonderful place.
But, it can be really hard to tell that an “expert” is giving you bad advice, especially when they say it works for them.
(Side note: I’m using an awful lot of sarcastic quote marks in this blog post, but it’s either that or gag while typing out some of these words like “guru.”)
The magical thing about the internet is also the downfall: anyone can say anything.
Someone who is one week from closing their virtual business doors can tell you that they’re making six figures and that you only need to spend 20 minutes writing your blog posts.
And, you believe them and wonder what the heck is wrong with you when it takes you three hours to outline, write, edit, take pictures for and publish a blog post.
Or, worse…you start publishing blog posts after working on them for only 20 minutes. (Yep…that made bile rise in my throat.)
Part of the problem is that some people shouldn’t teach what they’re teaching.
If you don’t have any comments on your last five blog posts, you probably shouldn’t give blogging advice. (Can I get a #sorrynotsorry cause GAH?)
What happened to saying, “you should probably go to so-and-so for that?”
What happened to admitting that we’re not experts at everything?!?!
What happened to saying, “I don’t know,” when asked a question that you can’t answer instead of stammering over an answer that’s going to hurt someone else if they follow your advice.
I don’t know and I’m not sure are powerful tools when teaching. No one expects you to have all the answers. You’re not Hermione Granger. (Unless you are…and in that case, will you be my friend pa-lease?)
About a week ago, someone asked me for help with her Etsy shop on Periscope.
My reply went a little something like:
Oh man, I wish I could be more helpful but I haven’t sold on Etsy in years. And, to succeed on Etsy, you really need to learn about what works well on Etsy, so you should go to Danielle from The Merriweather Council. She’s amazing at selling on Etsy and I believe she has one-on-one consultations.
I’m not about to give someone advice on something I know very little about.
When I see people doing this, it creeps me out worse than the time I was lying in bed with my husband and a slug dropped onto the bed from the ceiling. (True story.)
The worst part is that sometimes these people seem credible at first glance.
If you want to teach online or at conferences, cover topics that you feel really comfortable with and refer people to someone else for the rest.
And, teach to people who are a few (or many) steps below you.
You have to be careful who you’re listening to, who you’re learning from.
This is your business, your livelihood. The thing that determines whether you spend your life counting down the minutes until five o’clock when you can drink a bottle (or two) of sauvignon blanc or spend every day immersed in your creative work.
Publishing a book doesn’t make someone an expert. Having a website doesn’t make someone an expert. Making six figures doesn’t make someone an expert.
There are entrepreneurs who pretty much scammed people out of money and aren’t in business anymore, but while they were in business, their claim to fame was making six figures. #notimpressed
I love you guys. Virtual hugs all around!
I don’t want you to make business decisions based on crummy, unfounded advice.
Here’s how you can protect yourself:
1. Stay away from people who give you the heebie-jeebies.
When something seems off, our bodies produce cortisol which makes you feel more uneasy. Pay attention when the hairs on your neck prick up. Don’t brush off those ‘something ain’t right’ feelings.
Example: My neck hairs start their uh-oh pings every time I come across sales pages with flashing buttons and too-good-to-be-true claims.
I always encourage my B-Belle family to learn from other people for a myriad of reasons including: 1) hearing something in a different way can click on your light bulb, making it easier for you to apply a concept to your business 2) it never hurts to hear something more than once 3) my way for doing something might not work for you but someone else’s might be exactly what you need.
I believe you shouldn’t put all your business eggs in my basket. Learn from others, but make sure they deserve your trust.
2. Check out what others are saying.
Look at what people are saying about that “expert” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You might not see very many negative comments but, if no one is raving about that person, there’s something wrong.
People who rock at what they do have raving, loyal followers.
Read reviews before purchasing a course. Are most of them positive? Let’s be real. There’s probably always going to be one or two unhappy customers who live in their mom’s basement eating hot pockets all day but you want to pay attention to the majority.
3. Pay attention to highlighter yellow flags.
When an “expert” gives advice that goes against what most others say, it might seem sexy and exciting. But, there’s a reason that most successful people disagree.
I’m not saying that unique ideas are bad but going against business advice that actually works could cost you thousands or millions of dollars.
4. Stick with people who care.
It’s pretty obvious when someone cares about YOU as opposed to your Kate Spade wallet. It’s never about what they say. It’s all about what they do.
5. Ask questions.
This is one of the best ways to hip check the phonies.
When you hop on her Periscope or tune into her webinar, ask a couple of questions about the topic. Ask her to expand on something.
Often the fakers rehearse and regurgitate what the real experts say, but they often stumble over hard-hitting questions.
If someone is teaching a course on blogging and she doesn’t have comments on her posts, ask her about it in a classy way. For instance, you might say, “Are comments important? How do you get readers to engage in the comments on your blog posts?”
If she can’t give a good answer, move on to someone else.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying you should go after these people with pitchforks. Just leave once you realize she’s not the right fit.
6. Once you find one trustworthy teacher, check out her recommendations.
Any good teacher will point you towards many others.
You still need to do your own research, but it’s a great place to start.
With that said, here are five other awesome ladies I think you should check out for help improving your business:
7. Try out a bit of their advice before jumping in headfirst.
Before taking all of someone’s advice, test drive one of her tips. See how it goes for your business. Maybe try one or two more little things. Does it work for you? Or, does it backfire like a 1950’s Chevrolet.
If you can tell that person’s advice works, take off your floaties and dive into the deep end with her. Buy her course. Follow her path. But, keep in mind, that even for people who you trust, there are going to be things she teaches or does that won’t work for your business.
We’re all different and following someone else’s blueprint from a to z isn’t going to get you to the pot of gold. Instead, if something doesn’t resonate, check out someone else’s perspective on that topic.
Do you have any tips on figuring out who’s the real deal and who’s faker than Britney Spears singing acapella? Leave them in the comments below.
And, if you’ve learned from someone you really trust, tell us who that person was in the comments below. I’m all about spreading the wealth (and lifelong learning myself!).
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