CJ Cornell identified 7 pieces of commonly offered but lousy advice for entrepreneurs in “Great, Lousy Advice for Entrepreneurs.” Here is my take.
CJ Cornell Deconstructs 7 Pieces of Lousy Advice For Entrepreneurs
These “secrets” or “rules” for success sound so powerful that they’re immortalized in motivational posters and animated gifs. They get repeated by mentors, investors and other gurus as unquestioned, timeless wisdom.
Usually this entrepreneurial wisdom is about starting a company, or about the key qualities it takes to be a great entrepreneur: Timeless gems of wisdom, uttered by bona fide successes.
It’s all great advice, with one exception: If you’re a struggling entrepreneur working in the trenches, this wisdom doesn’t apply to you. It’s bad advice.
CJ Cornell in “Great, Lousy Advice for Entrepreneurs.”
1. Only Take Smart Money
My take: Don’t take money from investors with conflicting values or goals.
2. Hire only “A Players” Great leadership isn’t about buying expensive diamonds from Tiffany’s. Great leadership is about finding diamonds-in-the-rough, and helping them shine.
My take: I agree, but good enough on skills / expertise for folks willing to learn, but again be careful to avoid values conflicts.
3. Titles Don’t Matter. Next time someone you know says “titles don’t matter” – ask them to give up their title or trade it with yours.
I agree: Titles matter but I see entrepreneurs failing to use them as part of a recruitment or compensation package. In particular the title of co-founder.
4. Learn to Say No: Say “yes” more often. Just don’t say “yes” to every single thing coming your way. Learn to prioritize.
Also, say Yes to things that are outside your top priorities. It may sound unfocused and distracting, but saying “yes” expands your network, and helps others in your network. Otherwise, you end up being that selfish jerk who is only out for their own interests.
5. Stop Caring About What Other People Think “Other People” often have the power to open doors for you, connect you to critical knowledge, resources and people. “Other People” might invest in your company; they have the ability to otherwise help you fulfill your goals. You should care what they think.
I agree but I think it’s more about comparing your failures to other’s highlight reels or the reflexive need to say “I am crushing it.” I do think empathy and consideration for others is an under-appreciated superpower, especially for sales.
6. Follow your Passion: Often entrepreneurship reveals a passion you didn’t know you had.
You have enough passion to sustain your willingness to develop expertise, but it can be passion for helping a particular kind of customer or solving a particular need or working with a particular technology. I think you have to give yourself several degrees of freedom to explore and work around constraints but greed won’t sustain your ability to master all of the critical elements of getting a startup off the ground, you are better served to well a product that is already successful if you are in a hurry to make a fortune.
7. Never Give Up! Giving up means intelligently avoiding a truly losing battle, where the options and likelihood of success have really dwindled. The hard part is knowing the difference between a bad idea that’s just not working and a good idea that just hasn’t gone all the way yet. Sometimes you don’t know if you are giving up on the wrong idea to make room for the right idea – the one that you really don’t want to give-up on. A successful entrepreneur is indeed persistent – but a successful entrepreneur knows the difference between persistence and futility.
I agree with this more nuanced view. It’s harder to encapsulate in a three word slogan but is certainly the result of several large helpings of the fruit of experience.
All quotes from CJ Cornell’s “Great, Lousy Advice for Entrepreneurs.”
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