We all look for business advice.
Nothing wrong with that.
And, there’s a whole lot of business advice that is very well-meaning (and a significant minority that is predatory, but more on that in a sec.)
The problem isn’t usually in the quality of the advice.
It’s that trying to use business advice to build a business you love, and that loves you back, is like trying to use a banana to build a house. It’s just not fit for purpose.
What you need instead is a clear understanding of your self.
Cue booing from all the people who currently think I’m about to go off into a mindset/personal development ramble. Calm down, that’s not what this is about.
Here’s what I mean by that — and it has nothing to do with empowerment, alignment, or all those other coachy words people like to throw around in lieu of actual learning and development.
If you can figure out HOW YOU do things, everything else becomes a piece of piss.
There’s two really important words in that sentence:
How — as in, the system by which you act. People get all hung up on systems, thinking that they’re this external thing, but the truth is, a system is just what you do. You already have a system, because you’re already doing things. You don’t need to develop a system, you need to understand the one you’ve got.
You — business is personal. At least it is the way we do it. My business is my livelihood, it’s the means by which I put food in my children’s mouths, it is an expression of my potential, creativity, and joy in the world.
And yours should be too. If it’s anything less, then honestly, what’s the point? This is too hard, and too consuming to be worth doing for anything other than self-actualization and joy. And that means that it has to be personal.
And that’s why business advice doesn’t work. It’s inherently generalized.
All people know is what works for THEM. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I know what works for me in my business, and that’s a good thing.
But the problem is that people who sell business advice say that their results are the only ones that matter. The narrative runs that there is ONE way to do something, and it is THEIR way, and if you want to be successful, you have to work in their way.
And this is sooooooo seductive.
The certainty. The confidence. The thought of being able to put down the billion and one decisions you have to make every second as a business owner and just have someone tell you what to do … it is the most alluring thing in the world.
And don’t get me wrong, we all need support. We all need an outside perspective to help us mitigate our blind spots and biases. We all need to learn how to do tactical things. I can promise you that a “business advice” article on how to set up ConvertKit for your business is probably really damn useful.
But if you don’t have the foundation to know what YOU need, then everything’s a crapshoot. It’s just spaghetti thrown at the wall. You use apps because someone else tells you they’re good, you buy someone’s course or system because they promise they can fix XYZ problem (that you might not even really have), and you fall prey to unscrupulous marketers and coaches with big FB ads budgets and zero scruples about taking your money for something they KNOW will almost certainly not work for you.
And here’s where it gets toxic…
Because on top of all of that, we have this really ugly narrative that gets perpetuated that says if whatever somebody is selling doesn’t work for you, then it’s your fault.
You didn’t stick out the learning curve.
You didn’t read the manual closely enough.
You didn’t want it badly enough.
You didn’t commit.
It’s definitely not the case that someone was selling you a banana when what you really needed was a hammer.
This is the same dynamic we’ve seen in all sorts of unsavoury industries forever, from literal snake-oil salesmen through to the diet industry right through to that beloved staple of the online business coaching world, the webinar funnel.
And it’s predicated on a fundamental belief about business-building that is just straight-up wrong, and has got people absolutely tied up in knots: the assumption that you are not enough.
That you’re somehow “an asset” in the business, or something that “needs to be managed” or controlled, a faulty human mess that just needs to get their goddamn shit together, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and get shit done! All in the service of a 4-hour workweek, of course. #balance
Here’s the truth, and the one and only thing I hope you’ll take away from all this:
Business starts and ends with you. You're the one at the center. It always stems with you. And if you hate your business, your business will never grow. It just can’t.
Which is why the two most toxic words in business are “just do”.
Just do this course.
Just do this method of email marketing.
Just do this system, even though it might be completely wrong for you and mess everything up.
Just do it!
Stop thinking! Stop complaining when it doesn’t work for you!
Stop needing to get your needs met, stop thinking that you deserve to stand at the centre of your business, and just get in line!
This is, deep down, how most people approach business. And it’s dressed up as a whole lot of things. But ultimately, it’s an attack on your self, and it’s based on this approach in which you’re taught to build your business based on a void, a problem, or a myth.
That does not work.
Let’s talk about why.
Business advice is not evil. It’s just not fit for purpose when it comes to building a business that works for you.
Why? Because it’s inherently generalized. People figure out what works for them, assume that because it works for them, it will work for everyone, and then sell it based on that assumption.
Where things get really nasty is when you bring in the psychological manipulation of “If my system didn’t work for you, it’s YOUR fault.” It is, quite literally, snake oil.
The stakes on this couldn’t be higher. Because your business is, ultimately, an expression of your SELF, your livelihood, and your life. And to threaten that with “just do” advice is an incredibly dangerous act.
As part of all this, we’re taught to build our businesses based on a void, a problem, or a myth. This works just about as well as you’d expect.