Today, I want to offer some advice to all my start up and micro-business owner fans on what advice not to take from silver tongued experts and gurus.
I’m on the train. I’ve been at my publishers in London checking on new cover designs for the third edition of ‘Stripping for Freedom’ and before that I attended an entrepreneurship conference. Unfortunately, I’m with my co-author, the hopeless Tony Robinson OBE. This accounts for the unusual over garments I’ve put on for the train journey. These include a sou’wester, a plastic mac, gloves and plenty of loo paper covering my shoes.
Regular readers will be pleased to know that I’m all French today. Namely, I’m dressed by Jean-Paul Gaultier and accessorised by Louis Vuitton. I’m shod, red soled, by Christian Louboutin plus I’ve a few random dabs of Chanel – pour la bonne chance.
The first reason I’m now covered up is Robinson will at some time try to open the Dairy Stix for his coffee and later, he will open his badly shaken bottle of Diet Coke. The second reason is that when he gets bored of watching YouTube videos of himself he will want to play his favourite ‘Buzzy Bee’ game with me. This involves him telling me to say to him ‘Buzzy bee, buzzy bee, have you any honey?’ He’ll then take a few mouthfuls of Diet Coke, holding the liquid in his mouth. I’ll say ‘Buzzy bee, buzzy bee, have you any honey?’ He’ll then spray Diet Coke all over me.
Now, back to my advice on what advice not to take from the many so-called small business experts and entrepreneurship gurus you may encounter at events:
1. Ignore anything that you cannot immediately see how you could make it work for your business. There is lots of advice, purported to be useful for ‘SMEs’, 99% of all businesses, which is clearly nonsense and straight from corporate gibberland. The advice doesn’t work for the 70% of all businesses that have no employees at all and 96% of all businesses with less than 10 employees where the owner just wants to earn a decent living and does all the important work themselves.
2. Ignore anything that sounds expensive. Serious entrepreneurs with serious businesses seem to make serious investments in all sorts of things that could leave you seriously overstretched. Most start-ups and micro biz owners risk their own money in their business but have no intention of building a major corporate entity, taking on major bank loans with guarantees and/or sharing their business with outside investors.
3. Ignore anything where the speaker is not telling you ‘how’ to do something but rather is advising you to pay someone just like them to give you some good advice. It seems to me that some of the entrepreneurs speaking at events actually make their money from advising businesses or from their celebrity and investing in others’ businesses. There seems little evidence that they know how to start and run their own micro-business.
Google the speaker’s name before you attend the conference. If they aren’t credible at knowing what it’s like to be doing what you do then skive off to Harvey Nicks – it’ll be a much better use of your time.
Finally, remember the Golden Soculitherz Rule, which I understand has been adopted by those crazy #Enterprise Rockers @EnterpriseRocks: ‘If you’re starting and running a micro-biz only take advice from someone who has started and run a micro-biz or is employed by someone who has started and run a micro-biz’