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Says Who?

By Jessica Albon

The Fortune Teller by aussiegall on Flickr.I used to spend a lot of my time raging against bad business advice. Complaining about it to my non-business-owner friends who’d roll their eyes and wish I’d get a more relatable hobby. Obsessing over just why those “experts” were so freaking wrong and how they were leading people astray and had they No Integrity?

Nowadays, though, I’m over it. Sure, there’s more awful business advice out there than ever before. More people telling you you MUST, ABSOLUTELY DO THIS or your business will fail. Telling you if you do that you will be an outcast for ever. Just plain blathering on about things that, unless they have a magical crystal ball somewhere, they couldn’t possibly know.

But, I’ve finally come around to knowing something: I get to decide. I mean, I knew this before, and it was part of what pissed me off so much about the lousy business advice. (For instance, I know an “expert” who tells local businesses if they don’t create a page on Google, their business is doomed. Doomed! ‘Tis bullshit, of course: be on Google or don’t–that is not going to be the factor that determines the success or failure of your business.) But lately, this particular truism has really hit home and I’ve realized it’s true for *them* too.

I get to decide. You get to decide. They get to decide.

So, for the marketing expert who’s decided Twitter is a waste of time, there’s really no smart business reason for them to hang out there. For the business person who’s decided email is dead, they oughtn’t to bother with an email newsletter. And for the gal who knows in her bones that 90% of the business advice out there is bogus… Well, she probably ought to spend less time doing battle with the bogus business advice, no?

A lot is made of the Internet and how anyone can say anything they want and thus the Internet is not a Reliable Source of Data. (This is something I’ve never understood, by the way–a book is a place where an author can say anything *they* want, too, and yet people find them credible… I’m not saying they’re not, I’m just saying just because something got published doesn’t make it true.)

A lot is made of knowing the source. And that’s not exactly bad advice, but I’m not sure it goes far enough. Just because someone’s awesome, smart, and really brilliant doesn’t mean they’re never going to be wrong. And it certainly doesn’t mean that everything they say will apply to you.

I share this because though I’ve mostly let go of arguing about it, it’s been catching my attention a lot lately: people are beating their chests and declaring themselves particularly expert of late, and I wanted you to know that no matter what they say, no matter how sensible or logical it sounds, no matter how many statistics they trot out, you’re not a bad, irresponsible business owner if you feel like taking a step back, crossing your arms across your chest and saying, “Says Who?”

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