Worst Business Advice #2 - 

Rigidity and Chauvinism…quite possibly 2 of the worst on this list of 20 from fundera.com:

- “Stick To Your Business Plan From Day One”

“Some of the worst advice we received at Quovo came from people who insisted that we had to create an ironclad, comprehensive business plan from which we couldn’t waver. While it makes conceptual sense to have a plan – and drafting a plan can help you think critically about your business – the reality is that an overwrought business plan easily becomes busy work. After all, there’s approximately a zero percent chance that your plan on day one is still totally accurate on day 180.

Time and adaptability are both precious when you’re founding a company – and over-committing to the business plan can easily turn into busy work and detract from time and energy you could spend building your actual business, learning from experience and actively iterating in the field.”

– Lowell Putnam, CEO & Co-Founder of Quovo.

Ugh. This is the same kind of crappy advice as “choose your marketing avenues and stick to them”. “Rigid” is not a word that is a hallmark of great business, because just like your marketing plan, your business plan should remain malleable. If you work your original business plan to a “T”, but notice that things aren’t working out, it’s not only ok to ditch it, it is VITAL that you do so. Don’t be flighty – changing things on a whim every few months, but try it for a couple of years and then reevaluate. Remember that it typically takes a rough 2 years of slow or no business before most businesses become successful (making you a full-time paycheck), so put in that experimental 2 years of consistent work and then reevaluate as needed

- “You Need a Male Partner to Make It”

“Someone once told me as a woman—especially a woman of color—in tech, that I could only land investments for my company if I had a man as my business partner. It couldn’t be further from the truth! I was able to gain 6 figure investments for my company. It was difficult, but my perseverance has become an inspiration to many female founders.

I most certainly would have appreciated advice along the lines of, ‘You know what, no one has done what you are aiming to do and it will be difficult to trail blaze, but if you are successful, you will become an inspiration to many women.’”

– Tamar Huggins, serial entrepreneur and leader in tech education.  

HOLY MOSES!! Did someone ACTUALLY say that to a woman in this day and age? Was the guy who said this 90 yrs old?? Look…I get it. He probably wasn’t TRYING to be a male chauvinistic pig, but he certainly didn’t try very hard. And I can see how having a male partner might help make other chauvinists feel better about working with them, but those idiots are – luckily – few and far between nowadays. So, unless you’re going to be doing business somewhere in the middle east where they treat their women like property, you’ll probably do just fine as a woman in business. I will, however, make some suggestions if you are a woman in business, as I am:

  1. Stand your ground. Don’t allow yourself to become intimidated. When you first start off and your confidence is a little shaky, the trick is to not let it show. I have "BSed" my way through meetings more times than I can count. Not lying – just in the way I present myself. Inside I may feel like a failure, but I’ll never let anyone see that. I just keep telling myself “You have what they need – now act like it!” Maybe it’s because I was never coddled as a child – a strict military father, a nurse as a mother, a businesswoman as a stepmom and an alcoholic as a stepfather – if nothing else I’ve learned that life isn’t easy, you get out of it what you put into it, and if you fall and get hurt, you pick yourself right back up and get going. There’s no time for pity parties.
  2. If you feel like you might cry in a tense situation or because of “that time of the month” – which has happened to me and probably will with you – it’s ok to cry, but men often confuse crying with weakness…which is silly to a woman because you and I know that, for a woman, tears can mean almost any kind of emotion – sadness, happiness, frustration, shock, anger….literally any kind of emotion can spark tears. So – when you feel them coming on, ask for a bathroom break, go have a few minutes of crying, fix your face, visine your eyes (keep it in your purse), think of what you want to say and how you want to say it – practice it in the mirror, then come out ready to take them on!
  3. Demand to be taken seriously. I’ve been in meetings before where a man sees my frustration or insistence on my good ideas as “cute” and starts to smirk which makes me 10x angrier. The best way I’ve found to handle this is to stop talking and say something like “I’m sorry, I’ve been talking so much I haven’t given you a chance. You look like you have something to say.” Hint: he usually doesn’t because he’s so focused on how amusing you are in your frustration. This will, in turn, cause him to be flustered – he might try to talk but will become tangled in his own words and sound like an idiot, or he might simply say “no” and wipe that dumb smirk off his face, OR he might actually have some good ideas. In any case, shining the light on him, takes his focus off your “cuteness” long enough for you to command proper attention again.

Next week we will dive into a couple of pieces of advice regarding the help you need…or maybe don’t need!