Advice is abundant, but good advice is limited

In business, we often find ourselves at the receiving end of unsolicited advice. Everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks their opinion is the key to everyone else’s success. And, while the underlying intention of giving advice is almost always good, it’s important to approach all advice — especially from someone you don’t know — with a grain of salt. 

The thing with unsolicited advice is, people don’t know your goals or current situation, so how can they possibly give advice that’s going to be genuinely helpful and relevant? 

I’ve received a lot of advice in my life, especially while building and growing my businesses, but I’ve developed three key prerequisites to help me cut through the noise of advice and narrow down whose advice is really worth taking. 

Here are the three most important questions to ask before taking advice from anyone in business. 

1. What’s the most amount of money you’ve made in a single year?

Anyone can say that their advice is good, but they need to be ready to “show me the money,” if I’m going to take their advice and integrate it into my decisions and actions. I’m not interested in taking advice from someone who isn’t in a place I want to eventually be. Those who can demonstrate financial success are the ones I trust have put in the work, been in my shoes, and can help me handle or avoid the challenges or mistakes they’ve already made. 

2. What’s the biggest thing you’ve built?

When asking this question, it’s important to look for a qualitative answer as much as a quantitative one. On the qualitative side, make sure you understand your own definition of “big.” Does “big” mean an idea that changed the world? Does it mean something that resonates with you emotionally? Is it something you’ve heard of outside of this conversation? Assigning qualitative value can be difficult, so make sure you’re equipped to evaluate the answer when it comes.

Quantitative is a bit easier to measure because you’re looking at actual data points to define what “big” really means. I recommend looking for three key metrics in the answer you receive:

Number of employees: How many people someone employed to build their business says a lot about their approach to growth and gives you a frame of reference to evaluate size. More people usually equals more opportunities and recognition by management that they can’t run a successful and scalable business without help. 

Revenue: It all comes back around to money. A business without significant revenue is probably lacking a lot of things. Maybe it was marketed poorly, maybe it wasn’t scalable, or maybe it was missing a key component of a successful business — product-market fit. If people aren’t buying what this person is selling, you should approach their advice with a heavy amount of skepticism. 

Profit: While revenue helps us measure success from a consumer and market perspective, profit is the best way to measure how the business was run. A company can make millions of dollars in revenue and still have a nearly empty bank account if costs are not effectively managed. But, if a company is profitable, that’s probably a sign of strong management and a sign that an eventual exit will be lucrative.

3. What was your biggest exit?

Not every business owner has exited their company, so don’t let this be your end-all-be-all question when evaluating someone’s authority to offer advice. But, for those that have, knowing how much they exited with says a lot about the value of the company and, more importantly, the value that the individual brought to the company. 

When I sold Audigy for $151M, I walked away knowing that I provided an immense amount of value to the world and that the decisions I made while building that business were the right ones. I give advice to other business owners with the confidence that my learnings could get someone exactly where they want to be.

Surround yourself with people who can (and will) contribute to your growth and success in the long-term

While I believe you should be picky from whom you take advice, I’m certainly not saying that all advice is bad. Quite the contrary. I wouldn’t be where I am today without some of the advice I received along the way, and I owe that to the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with. 

You’re only as powerful as the people around you, so when you meet someone that fits all your criteria and shares your vision to change the world, stick by that person and soak up everything you can.

Are you ready to stop taking just anyone’s advice and figure out what it truly takes to accomplish your goals? Register for one of our upcoming events, and join me and my team at Cardone Ventures for all the tools you need to 10X your business.