What’s the worst and best business advice you ever received as an entrepreneur? This was one of the questions I was asked by the Philadelphia Business Journal last month. They were interested in my response particularly as a minority owned business owner.
Here is the expanded version of the responses I shared with the Philadelphia Business Journal (PBJ) of the best and worst advice I received throughout my entrepreneurial journey.
(PBJ – Philadelphia Business Journal): As an ethnic-minority owner, what was the inspiration that led to your entrepreneurial venture?
(Yoon): I was born in Korea and immigrated to the US in 1975. From a young age I always knew the United States as being the land of opportunities. So, it seemed only natural to pursue entrepreneurial ventures to create and leverage those opportunities.
My parents sacrificed so much to get my two older brothers and me to America. They paid a high price, so we could have better opportunities. I felt choosing the employee route was limited, so I chose the limitless opportunities of entrepreneurship. It was a good choice for me. I ended up starting and selling three businesses.
As far as starting my current business as a business coach,
“what inspired me was
seeing a need and wanting
to do something about it.”
I met so many small business owners who for many years remained stuck in a cycle of struggle to grow their businesses. I felt they paid far too great a price and made sacrifices they didn’t needed to make had they known where to get help.
(PBJ): What was the hardest lesson that you learned while establishing your business and what advice would you give to other minorities that wish to pursue an entrepreneurial path?
(Yoon): The hardest lesson I learned while establishing my business is to
“Stop focusing on results.
Focus on getting better at
executing the plan that will produce
the desired outcome result.”
It might sound contrarian when I say stop focusing on results, especially because people regard it as a good thing to be results oriented. But, I believe the results will come if we stay focused on consistent execution and consistent improvement.
The reason why this was such a hard lesson I think is because we live in a world where we are constantly marketed “overnight results” and “instant gratification”.
You can all fall into the trap of expecting immediate results the first time you try to implement a new idea to grow your business. But, I’ve learned time and time again that’s not how it works.
As in sports, winning games comes as a result from your dedication to constantly honing your skills and getting better on your technique as a player.
(PBJ): What was the best business advice that you ever received and who gave you that advice?
(Yoon): As a new entrepreneur in the early 90’s I listened to a lot of Zig Ziglar on cassette tapes back then. He gave some great advice that I have had to keep reminding myself over the years.
“Success is not measured by what you
do compared to what others do, it is
measured by what you do with the
ability God gave you. “
Comparison can be a dangerous trap because no matter what level of sales you achieve there will always be another business who is at the next level.
I’ve also learned to recognize that the word ability is not limited to only talent and potential. The season of life you are in also dictates your ability compared to someone else who is in a different season of life. As a mother of three kids at home I have to recognize that I don’t have the same ability to dedicate twelve hours a day to my business as someone else would whose kids are grown and out of the home.
Seeing other people’s success stories in your industry should serve as inspiration for what is possible. Aspiration encourages. Comparison only discourages.
(PBJ): What is the worst business advice that you ever received?
(Yoon): There are a number of motivational speakers out there who like to preach the message that if you want to be successful you have to eat, breathe and be completely obsessed 24/7 with achieving your goals.
As a type A personality that was the worst advice for me because when I buy into that thinking I essentially become a workaholic ignoring other priorities like my health and my family. Plus, I miss opportunities to be a blessing to people outside of my business.
I am not advocating treating your business as a hobby. Achieving big business goals does require hard work. Looking back, there were years though where I worked way too hard which only left me feeling depleted and defeated.
Working too hard stems from going about things the hard way. So, I’ve learned how to work smarter. But, it also stems from holding on to the core belief that one has to be that workaholic in order to build a big business. This was an especially hard lesson for me as this work-a-holism mindset seems to be ingrained in the Korean culture.
In my early years as an entrepreneur I used to believe you have to be completely consumed with your business in order to achieve great success. I no longer believe that. Work-a-holism only leads to burn out. When you have balance in your life, you’re also more creative in your business. It is possible to build a thriving life and business you love.
Answering these questions thoughtfully turned out to be a great exercise for me to go through. It made me stop, reflect and re-focus on my core values, my mission and advice I want to never stop giving to myself.
I invite you to answer these same questions for yourself and share the golden lessons you have learned in your entrepreneurial journey.
QUESTION: What about you? What was the best (or worst) business advice you ever received? Please share your comments below.
© Copyright 2016