Weeding Out the Worthless: How to Spot and Dodge Bad Business Advice and Stop Expecting Free Business Consultations in the Comment Section

When making important decisions for your business, chances are you don't want to mess around – why take a risk when you can stack the odds in your favor? But with a wealth of business advice available on the internet, it's increasingly difficult to know who and what sources to trust. Taking bad advice could cost you time, money, and resources – not to mention lost opportunities. 

That is why learning how to spot bad business advice is essential. 

In our interconnected digital landscape, advice is no longer confined to closed-door meetings with professionals or elaborate business seminars. It's now possible to tap into a seemingly infinite pool of insights with just a few clicks or taps. This democratization of knowledge has advantages, providing access to a wide range of perspectives that can spur creativity and innovation. But, like a double-edged sword, it also brings with it the risk of encountering ill-informed or misleading guidance.

Unfortunately, plenty of bad fish is in the vast ocean of online advice. These seem appealing, promising easy solutions to complicated problems or shortcuts to success. But their advice may be outdated, irrelevant, or even harmful to your business. As an enthusiastic entrepreneur/business owner/freelancer, you need to stay alert. Being able to distinguish between valuable pearls of wisdom and worthless pebbles can make a significant difference to the future trajectory of your business.

And most importantly, we'll explore why expecting free business consultations in the comment section might not be the wisest move! 

What Qualifies as Bad Business Advice? 

Bad business advice can come in many forms. It could be outdated advice, recommendations from an unreliable expert, or bad advice given by a well-meaning friend – all of which can lead to damaging results. Generally, bad business advice falls into one of three categories: 

Outdated Strategies: Ideas that were effective in the past but do not necessarily translate to success in today's market or your business

Outdated strategies are advice that used to work in the past but do not necessarily translate well in our current tech-driven world. These can be tactics like the “Spray and Pray” approach for email campaigns or outdated marketing techniques like cold calls. Outdated strategies often fail to consider recent technological developments and customer preferences, leading to a failed campaign or process.

I try to avoid getting too much into social media marketing trends on this blog, as they can often become outdated quickly. And when the time comes when any of the tools I use become outdated, I always make sure to do my research and find the latest solutions for the problem at hand.

Below are a few examples of strategies that were once highly effective but have become less impactful in today's ever-changing business landscape. It is worth noting that while some of these strategies may seem outdated in one industry, they may still hold relevance in another.

  1. Mass Mailing Campaigns: In the past, businesses would blast out hundreds of generic emails, hoping to connect with a potential customer. Today, consumers expect personalized communication that speaks to their specific needs.
  2. Yellow Pages Advertising: Yellow Pages were once the primary method for consumers to find local businesses. Now, online search engines and digital marketing have primarily replaced this strategy.
  3. Hard Selling: This aggressive, “in-your-face” sales technique is less effective in an era where consumers value authenticity and relationship-building with brands.
  4. Print Media Advertising: Investing heavily in print media (like newspapers or magazines) for advertising can often yield lesser returns than digital marketing strategies in our increasingly online world.
  5. Telemarketing: Cold calling was a common sales strategy, but with the advent of caller identifications and spam filters, its effectiveness has decreased significantly. 
  6. One-size-fits-all Marketing: The days of generic, one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns are gone. Customization and personalization are the keys to successful modern marketing.
  7. Just Post On Social Media and Hope to Go Viral (Spray and Pray): Simply posting on social media isn't enough to create engagement and build relationships. To get results, you must be active, engaging, and consistent with your content. 
ELIZABETH ALARCON - BLOG POST QUOTES - Weeding Out the Worthless How to Spot and Dodge BAD Business Advice and Stop Expecting Free Business Consultations in the Comment Section - Benjamin Franklin
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” – Benjamin Franklin

Unreliable Experts: People who are unqualified or unprofessional, giving inaccurate or misleading advice. 

Another form of bad business advice comes from unreliable “experts.” I have the word “experts” in quotations because that word irks the eff out of me.

These “experts” might have some knowledge of the subject but lack professional experience or qualifications to support their advice. Not to mention, internet trolls spread false information without any facts or evidence (thanks, ChatGPT). It can be difficult to distinguish between reliable experts and those who pretend to know it all – so always make sure to do your research before following any advice.

In business, unreliable experts are akin to wolves in sheep's clothing. They present an air of authority, touting impressive-sounding titles and credentials. Sometimes, they may even possess knowledge in a given subject, making them sound authentic. But beneath the veneer, they lack the hands-on experience, professional qualifications, or track record of success to support their advice truly.

ELIZABETH ALARCON - PINTEREST QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
I would have a million and one follow up questions for this.
ELIZABETH ALARCON - PINTEREST ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
You should have seen the look on my face when I read this. Where to begin?

Firstly, let's look at where these unreliable experts are typically found. They tend to thrive in online spaces, particularly on social media platforms and forums, where they can reach a large audience with minimal accountability. They may also be found in networking events, presenting themselves as mentors or business coaches.

So how can they harm your business? Unreliable experts can offer advice that is not only ineffective but could also be potentially harmful to your business. This could range from recommending outdated strategies, endorsing illegal activities, or suggesting risky investments. Their advice tends to lack context or fails to account for your business's unique attributes and requirements.

But here's the good news: you can learn to spot them. Be wary of those who promise quick, guaranteed results or rely heavily on buzzwords and jargon. Always verify their credentials, and don't hesitate to seek a second opinion. Remember, as a business owner or entrepreneur, you must exercise diligence and proceed cautiously when navigating the sea of business advice. After all, your business's success depends on your choices.

What is the best defense against these unreliable experts? Continuous learning, sound judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism. Together, these can go a long way in ensuring you only accept advice that moves your business forward.

ELIZABETH ALARCON - LEADERBOARD AD - The Pros and Cons of Building Your Website from Scratch And When To Hire A Professional Web Designer
The Pros and Cons of Building Your Website from Scratch And When To Hire A Professional Web Designer

Navigating the Landscape of Misinformation in the Workplace: A Quick Sidenote

You might encounter similar challenges when seeking business guidance in your current work environment, particularly if your role involves engaging with external stakeholders like clients or suppliers. Be wary of colleagues who give advice that sounds too good to be true or would be difficult to implement without sacrificing your team's resources and professional integrity. Your best defense is always to do your own research, ask questions, and take a critical approach to any advice you receive.

Ultimately, the key to success is learning to separate the wheat from the chaff – the reliable information from the useless noise. The more informed you become about your industry, the better equipped you are to make sound decisions for yourself. Trust only those who have demonstrated their knowledge and expertise in the field, and stay mindful of potential misinformation or bad advice.

Bad business advice in the workplace can adversely affect individuals and teams. 

  • Erosion of Trust: When you receive and implement bad advice, it can damage the trust between you and the advisor. You might start doubting their credibility and decisions, negatively impacting your professional relationship.
  • Wasted Time and Resources: Bad business advice can waste time and resources. You might invest in strategies that do not yield the desired results, leading to lost opportunities.
  • Decreased Morale: If the advice leads to failure, it can decrease your morale and make you hesitant to take on new challenges or show initiative. 
  • Career Impact: Repeatedly following bad advice can harm your reputation and career progression. If you're seen as someone who can't discern good advice from bad, it may limit your future opportunities.
  • Negative Influence on Decisions: Bad advice can cloud your judgment, leading you to make poor decisions that affect your team and company. 

Bad Advice From Well-Meaning Friends And Colleagues Who Offer Good Intentions But Misguided Opinions And Have Little Knowledge Of The Subject


Finally, bad business advice can come from well-meaning friends, family members, or colleagues. They might not be qualified to give reliable advice, but they mean well.

If you are unsure about a piece of advice, don't be afraid to ask for more information or seek additional resources. Most importantly, never be shy to say “no” if something doesn't feel right – even if it comes from someone close to you. 

Let's consider an example. Imagine you're looking to expand your business into a new market. Your well-meaning friend, an experienced plumber who has never ventured beyond local operations, suggests that you “just go for it, without further analysis or any strategic plan.” While this advice is offered with the best intentions, it lacks the depth of understanding required for successful market expansion. 

Or take another scenario where a colleague, whose expertise lies in software engineering, advises you to “invest heavily in tech upgrades” for your retail business without considering your customer demographics, current market trends, or budget. His advice, though well-intended, overlooks critical factors necessary for making an informed decision. 

In these instances, seeking advice from more knowledgeable sources, such as business consultants, market research firms, or industry peers who have successfully navigated similar situations, is crucial. Remember, it's ok to say “no” or “let me think about it” before deciding. Your business will thank you for it!

ELIZABETH ALARCON - WOOCOMMERCE VS SHOPIFY QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
This one made me sad on so many levels. Their friend didn't have their best interest at heart.
ELIZABETH ALARCON - WOOCOMMERCE VS SHOPIFY DIAGNOSE FIRST IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
This lovely person attempted to diagnose the issue, but you can tell the author is beyond frazzled.
This type of advice isn't always malicious - often, it's just someone giving you their opinion without any evidence to back it up. The problem is that poor research on your part can lead to disastrous decisions for your business. 

The Limitations of Relying on the Comments Section: Why Quality Business Advice Comes at a Price

I get it – you’re looking for an easy answer, and why wouldn't you? Don't get me wrong – plenty of helpful comment sections on various blog sites and forums offer invaluable insights from experienced professionals. Still, these should be seen as suggestions rather than gospel. Plus, you risk getting misguided advice from someone who may not have your best interests at heart, or who may be misinformed. 

As for me, I won't and don't talk about anything I don't know, like the back of my hand. But for whatever reason, people won't stop giving their unfiltered opinions about things they know nothing about! If you expect to get quality business consultations for free in the comment section, you are in for a rude awakening.

When writing this blog post (actually the reason I wanted to write it), I have seen individuals ask for advice in the comments section about how to launch their business, market it, or make it successful – without any attempt from their side.

What's worse is the improper way of asking questions, with little (if any) explanation of the current situation. Vague descriptions only lead to vague answers, and this does nothing to help you make progress.

After showing no appreciation for the advice from those who took the time to research and offer a thoughtful response, I have also seen some users become argumentative when they disagree with the advice given. If they don't get the response they want, they will assume the advice is wrong and start a debate.

The bottom line: it's important to recognize that asking for advice in a comment section isn't the same as getting quality business consultation from an experienced professional – so don't expect it to be! 

Instead of shooting blind arrows in the dark, invest in a professional advisor who can provide reliable advice.

ELIZABETH ALARCON - WOOCOMMERCE VS SHOPIFY KNEE JERK RESPONSE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
I had to include a knee jerk reaction here. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Benefits of Hiring a Business Consultant/Agency Over Relying On Free Business Advice in the Comments Section

When it comes to your business, quality advice is worth paying for. A professional consultant or agency can bring an added level of expertise and experience to the table, as well as a deeper understanding of market trends and customer needs.

Consider the following benefits of hiring a business consultant/agency: 

  1. Expertise and Knowledge: A business consultant has years of experience and extensive knowledge in your industry. They have worked with various businesses, assessing similar problems and successfully implementing strategies. In contrast, commenters with little to no experience in your field may offer advice that lacks depth and understanding.
  2. Customized Solutions: Business consultants provide personalized strategies and solutions tailored to your business's unique needs and objectives. However, commenters typically offer generic advice that may not align with your business model or goals.
  3. Accountability and Follow-through: Consultants are accountable for the advice they give and often work with you to implement the suggested strategies, ensuring they deliver results. Conversely, commenters are not accountable for their advice and may not be available for follow-up questions or assistance.
  4. Access to Resources and Networks: Consultants have access to a wide range of resources, tools, and professional networks that can benefit your business. Commenters, on the other hand, may not have such resources at their disposal.
  5. Confidentiality and Professionalism: Business consultants uphold strict confidentiality agreements, ensuring your business information is secure. In contrast, discussing business strategies or problems in public forums could expose sensitive information.
  6. Time-saving: Engaging a business consultant can save you a lot of time you might otherwise spend sifting through various opinions and advice in the comments section.
  7. Risk Management: Business consultants can help you mitigate risks by foreseeing potential pitfalls and advising on how to avoid them. In comparison, lay commenters might not foresee the potential risks associated with their advice.
  8. Continuous Learning and Improvement: Consultants can also help educate and train your team, leading to long-term improvement. Conversely, commenters offer one-time advice without any commitment to your business's ongoing growth or improvement.
  9. Return on Investment: Although it costs money to hire a business consultant, you are likely to see a return on investment as they can help increase revenue and efficiency in your organization. Commenters may not provide the same long-term value or tangible results.
Nope this isn't me promoting my services as I am not accepting any clients at the time of writing this po​st, but rather just highlighting some of the key benefits that you can expect from hiring a professional business consultant. 

No one can predict the future with 100% certainty, but by taking advantage of all available resources and making informed decisions, you can increase your chances of success. 

Conclusion

It's essential to navigate the sea of business advice on the internet with cautious discernment. Not all advice is created equal, and it's crucial to remember that advice given freely in a comments section may not be as valuable or reliable as the expert advice provided by a professional business consultant. This is not to discredit the potential good intentions, but rather to highlight the importance of context, expertise, and accountability when it comes to implementing business strategies.

I encourage you to embrace the abundance of information available to you, but do so with a critical eye. Understand your unique business needs and consult with professionals who can provide customized, informed advice that will truly benefit your business. 

Your business deserves more than just a shot in the dark – it deserves guidance illuminated by experience, expertise, and proven success.

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ELIZABETH ALARCON - PINTEREST - Weeding Out the Worthless How to Spot and Dodge BAD Business Advice and Stop Expecting Free Business Consultations in the Comment Section


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