We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

25 Entrepreneurs Share the Worst Advice They Ever Received

1 0 0
26.06.2019

If you decide to make the leap and launch a business, the people in your life -- from family and friends to investors -- will all have opinions that they will gladly share with you, sometimes whether you ask them to or not.

The fact of the matter is, you can take in all the advice in the world from the most respected sources, but if it doesn’t feel right to you, you have to trust vision and conviction enough to go your own way.

Related: Jeff Bezos Shares His Best Advice for Anyone Starting a Business

We asked 25 entrepreneurs about the worst advice they ever got, and what they learned from it.

Name: Alexis Maybank
Company: Project September
Bad advice: Right as I was coming out of college and was going to work in a predominantly male environment as the only female, people would try to be kind, but would tell me that I must dress and act a certain way in order to fit in. I felt so uncomfortable and so not like me. A few years later I broke away from that and realized you are your own brand. And the more comfortable you are, the more confident and memorable you’ll be. You’ll be the most effective if you achieve your own personal style.

Read more about Maybank: The Co-Founder of Gilt on What Her First Job at Ebay Taught Her About Running a Company

Name: Luis von Ahn
Company: Duolingo
Advice: I don’t know if it's bad universally, or if it was just bad for me. When you’re building a product, typical advice is listen to what your users are saying. I have found that is terrible advice for Duolingo. The spirit of the advice is good, but a lot of times, there is a problem that arises. If the feedback channels are such that that only a few users get to talk to you, you are only hearing the loudest ones, not all of them, and that is where it breaks down.

We have a forum on our website where people can talk about language, but they often ask about features. I have found that listening to people in the forums is a terrible idea. For example, we redesigned the website a few years ago,and people in the forum were saying how terrible it was. Hundreds of posts about how this was the worst decision we had ever made. All the while we were looking at the metrics for the new website, and they were significantly better.

If you are just listening to the people who reach out to you, than that is a biased sample of people who are a loud minority. Of course that is not always the case, but unless you know what you are doing, you should watch out for that bias.

Read more about von Ahn: Why This Founder Says the Worst Advice He Ever Got Was to Listen to His Users

Name: Julia Hartz
Company: Eventbrite
Bad advice: To be fearless. This is unattainable, because humans are innately built with fear, and it’s part of how we survive. I think it’s better to examine your fears and divide those into buckets. There are irrational fears that you should pack in a box and put on a shelf, but then there are warranted fears that you should listen closely as you think through challenges. You will encounter fight-or-flight situations where you need to act fearlessly but feeling the fear a little isn't always a bad thing.

Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Bad advice: I'm Asian. My parents told me to keep my head down, work hard and show my value through work rather than through my mouth. I think that might work well in some industries, but even in those cases, there is a benefit of speaking up and communicating.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got

Related: Mark Cuban Shares the Best Advice He Ever Got

Name: Heidi Zak
Company: ThirdLove
Bad advice: The worst advice........

© Entrepreneur