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What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get advice from people who have done what you want to do? Those who have faced the challenges, made sacrifices, took the hits and made it work. Those who have stood their ground and when the dust settled, are on top. We asked four of our previously interviewed entrepreneurs this question:

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

Bill Grodnik, CEO
I would say that the best piece of business advice I’ve ever received was really to, I know I have done this in the past. I’ve detoured off the path. But really stick to what you know. Even if you only know it a little bit, stick with your core expertise. Every time I’ve tried to veer off, or I see other people veer off what they know, you don’t realize the hurdles in front of you. You just have no idea where the path is going to lead you. Whereas, at least if you have some familiarity with the product or the business model you’re working with, a lot less hurdles. I would say I was given that advice. I wish I had been given it younger. I was given it kind of at a later stage in my adult life, but it makes a lot of sense.
Aaron Harris, CEO Tutorspree.com:
It’s actually pretty easy. This is the motto of Y Combinator actually. It’s simply make something people want. That was sort of the central piece of advice that was hammered into our heads day after day, whenever we went in for help, which is think about all the companies out there and all the people who have ideas, and they have no idea if anyone actually wants them. Right? They’re just like, “Oh, I’m going to do this thing, and maybe someone will by it.” Well at the end of the day, people aren’t going to buy your product unless they actually want your product. You can create demand. There are things that you can do, but it’s not like you can invent demand. Right? You can unlock it. So everything that we do, we think of through the lens of, well, do people actually want this thing we’re about to do. That starts with just the idea of the business itself. Do people actually need a better way to find tutors? When it’s all the way to every single feature that we build on the site and every tweak me make. Well, do people actually want this, or have we just decided it would be cool? Because cool looks good, but cool doesn’t build a business.
Stella Fayman, Founding Member Fee Fighters:
I think probably the best piece of advice would just be to do things that you feel like you’re not ready to do. I’ve learned pretty quickly that, as a young woman, people already have ideas about what I’m going to say or how I’m going to act. Anybody shouldn’t act, especially in business, based on that, but they should act and do things that really challenge them and get people to take them seriously. Not just seriously, but take them for who they are and the ideas that they represent. I think that it’s a really important lesson, and it’s I think a big reason why you don’t see . . . like I’m kind of an anomaly. I don’t know a ton of people who just join a startup really early stage after college. So I don’t meet a lot of people like me for that reason. Where people tell you that when you’re young, you need experience, you need corporate background, you need something on your resume. I think I’ve done pretty well without any of that. So, that would be my advice.
John Stippick, President/CEO Super Star Learning:
Get people that are smarter than you, for starters, and don’t be afraid of that, to build a team of folks that are experts in areas that you are not. For example, we’re a small company, but I do have a COO, somebody that really understands the mechanics of our business entity, that truly understands the accounting side of our business to a much deeper level. I’m more of the idea guy, who’s responsible for fulfilling the vision. What I knew I needed was someone that could manage the business side of the business. So, one of the first things I would say, for any entrepreneur, is find that person. The second thing that I would do, and I’ve learned this repeatedly through many businesses I’ve started, is network with someone that can help you with your PR. If you’re up to something that’s great, make sure that you’re getting the word out. There’s nothing like having a professional that could create a few press releases for you, to start help building the buzz, and you want to build the buzz straight out of the gate.

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