Business Owners Share the Best and Worst Advice They've Received (Part 2 of 2)

Alayna Okerlund

Last Updated: March 9th, 2021

People working on laptopPart two in our two-part series

As seen in part one of this series, business owners often get a mix of both good and bad advice, especially when they are just starting a new business venture. No two businesses are the same, so receiving business advice from another business owner may not exactly apply to every business situation. It can be a challenge to determine what business advice you should follow. A few more business owners shared the best and worst business advice they have received along with their best advice. Here's what they shared:

Deborah Sweeney, Owner of

Best Business Advice: "The best advice I received was from a non-business owner (my mom) and that was to be patient and calm. I have learned in business that there is no need for everything to happen right away. Good things come to those who wait (and work hard). My mom had this great advice as I purchased my company out of Intuit back in 2009. It has been very valuable insight because I have remained patient and worked diligently on the growth and success of the business. Year after year, we continue to grow and thrive and to develop new ideas that help our business grow and our customers thrive."

Worst Business Advice: "The worst advice I have received is to take on investors just for the sake of quick growth. Sometimes investors are self-interested. While a business can grow faster with a large investment, it may not always be the right strategy. Every business and every business situation is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to business. If the business is growing organically and, as the business owner you are thriving, there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it is best to take it steadily and not give up ownership interest in your business."

Her Advice: "I would give my younger self the advice of being calm under pressure. Think things through. Do not react too fast. There is no right answer, but reasoned answers are always better."

Blair Koch, CEO of The Alternative Board

Best Business Advice: "The best career advice I ever received was from my dad: 'Don’t get greedy... You can’t lose by taking a profit.' He shared this with me back in my 20’s after I helped take a company public. At the time, it was a bit of a conundrum for me to determine when to sell shares and how to know when the stock would be at its peak. The 'don’t get greedy' phrase helped me realize that my goal shouldn't be making the MOST profit, but rather, making the most profit while maintaining my peace of mind. I apply this business principle to this day."

Worst Business Advice: "'Working more means working better.' Putting in an obscene number of hours with no break (I worked with someone who ended up in the hospital for working too many hours) will decrease efficiency and block you creatively. Don't neglect time with family and friends in favor of your job."

Her Advice: "The most important thing when starting a business is to set objectives that are manageable and achievable. Typically, people set really big goals and then give up soon after, because they don’t know how to tackle achieving them. Break your goals down into 30, 60, or 90-day objectives. This way, they are bite size and not so overwhelming. When you complete the first 30, 60, or 90-day goals, then set the next 30, 60, or 90-day goals. Make sure to celebrate your accomplishments along the way."

Matthew Ross, COO and Co-Owner of RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard

Best Business Advice: "The best piece of advice I've ever received was from one of the investors in our company. He's a well-respected angel investor who has built and sold several companies. The overall theme of what he stressed was to focus on a specific niche. Sometimes business owners get too caught up in capturing the entire market in which they operate and, as a result, their brand or product doesn't stand out from the crowd. Instead, we've had success focusing on specific niches within industries. For example, one of our websites focuses strictly on bed-in-a-box mattresses that are sold online instead of going after the entire bedding industry as a whole."

Worst Business Advice: "I won't say who said this to me but the basic gist of our conversation was that I had to move extremely quickly in order to gain market share. Needless to say, I took his advice and I ended up over-hiring which hurt our bottom line and actually hindered our efficiency. I learned that sometimes it's best to move at a comfortable pace. If you're constantly trying to rush, you may find yourself getting out over your skis."

His Advice: "Don't be afraid to try new strategies and campaigns, but do it in a way that won't overwhelm your employees or hinder profitability. If it takes a little more time than you want, that's okay."

Jason Patel, Founder of Transizion

Best Business Advice: "The best business advice I've ever received came from my mentor, Don. He said that it's important to charge what the services are worth. It's not fair to the business to offer time and money when the exchange is unfair to you or your workers. The business is a living, breathing creation, and you need to do right by it. This attitude will go a long way because you can build better solutions for your customers."

Worst Business Advice: "Someone I know who's more of an entrepreneur du jour said that I should live my life and start taking money out of the business right away. If I had listened to him, I would have taken the blood and oxygen out of the business before we had grown. We wouldn't be where we are today if I had followed that advice."

His Advice: "If you have a new product or pricing structure, test it by talking to customers, giving them the product, and implementing good feedback. You need to iterate, adapt, and change. Just as technology and the means through which customers consume good and services change, so should your products. Your product is never perfect, so get started and test your product in the market."

Lindsey Dinneen, Owner of VidaDance Studio

Best Business Advice: "The best advice I've ever received is to never look at the competition. Focus on innovating and coming up with great new ideas to market your business and sell your product or service in ways that consistently delight and surprise your ideal customers."

Worst Business Advice: "The worst advice I've ever received is to be everything to everyone. That's a terrible way to go about growing a business. You simply can't be everything to everyone, and trying to be will cause serious headaches and unnecessary stress. Instead, zone in on your target demographic and cater your services/products specifically to them. The smaller and more defined the demographic, the better, and the easier it will be to sell to them."

Her Advice: "The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to know that you will never be ready. You will never be able to have an airtight plan that eliminates the risk and uncertainty that comes with starting your own business. The key is always to take action. Be okay with never being ready, and take daily action steps that move you closer towards achieving your personal and professional goals. One thing I remind myself of often is that being nervous means that you care."

James Heidebrecht, Owner of Policy Architects

Best Business Advice: "'Don’t be a generalist; focus on what your strengths are and learn where you are weak.' Of course, when you begin you’ll be doing everything yourself and you’ll need a general knowledge of systems so you know what others are doing. But as soon as possible, delegate what you’re not good at to someone or something else. I hired a virtual assistant within the first year who took care of admin and client follow up so I could focus on sales which is my strength."

Worst Business Advice: "'Go all in. Sometimes a side hustle is the best way to get things started, especially if you're transitioning from another career.' I know some people feel you should 'burn your bridges' but there's nothing wrong with beta testing different ideas before jumping both feet in. Don’t quit your regular job until you absolutely have to — I continued to work in broadcasting while building my business. And it is possible to do many things on a shoestring budget."

His Advice: "If I were to offer only one piece of advice to someone starting a new business it would be to niche down. Take some time and drill down on your idea, typically you can find a sweet spot that the maddened crowd has missed. This will distinguish you from your competitors. There are tons of startups out there and the key to success is to find a need and fill it. I think a lot of people approach this in a very generalized way. The thing is if you take this approach you're just one of many and you're offering nothing original to a market that may be oversaturated. Once you are up and running you can always expand your business but this will give you a head start."



Go all In. Sometimes a side hussle is the best way to get things started, especillay if you're transitioning from another career. I know some people feel you should "burn your bridges" but there's nothing wrong with beta testing different ideas before jumping both feet in. Don’t quit your regular job until you absolutely have to - I continued to work in broadcasting while building my business. AND It is possible to do many things on a shoestring budget.
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