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Wellbeing

Why I wish I stopped listening to professional advice about my business

While all the advice you are absorbing is aimed to build your business, a lot of advice is given to you based on an outsider looking in. Unfortunately, most outsiders don't know the full story of how you operate, why you make those choices and what values you have that drive your business, writes Ellen McRae.

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There have been way too many times that I have been told my approach to my business is wrong. And despite my persistent personality that wants to do the opposite of what anyone tells me to do when it comes to business I tend to listen. I especially listen to the people who have been in business a lot longer than me, to the people warning me not to make the same mistakes as them.

But since starting the McHallsons, our lifestyle blog turned influencer platform with my three best friends in Melbourne, I haven’t listened to a single expert’s direct piece of advice since.

Not a single one.

Against all of my instincts to cave into professional advice, our business has gone from strength to strength purely because we keep defying what we ‘should’ be doing on online, and in business.

I thought I would share a little insight into why saying no in business can be important, why it’s working for my little business, and why sometimes you need to turn off the noise and listen to your instincts.

Lesson Learned #1: The professional can be wrong!

Having once worked as a consultant for small businesses, I always backed my opinion. Not just for my reputation or because I wanted to be an authority, I genuinely believed I knew best. And when a client acted as if they knew better than my advice, I secretly thought they were making a big mistake by ignoring my expertise.

The shoe is now on the other foot and now I am the one not listening to the professionals. After seeking some additional marketing help with our account, basically someone to take away some of our workloads so we could focus on content creation, I was told that we should change basically everything we were doing. We were told to ditch the idea of being a group, as no one else is doing a group Instagram or anything close to it. We were also told that we should be posting three times per day and that we should change the style of our photos completely.

Basically, we have been told to stop doing everything that made us unique online.

As you may have guessed, we quickly ignored this advice. We had reached over 15k followers in just six months and had already landed a monetized brand deal doing the opposite to this advice. Our success was enough to reassure us that the professional didn’t know quite what would work for us specifically, and we were confident enough to pass on the recommendations.

I stress that not every professional, but I recommend sticking to what has worked for you and to remember that there is no cookie cutter approach to business. Especially when you have proven success to back your decisions.  

Lesson learned #2: It’s your business, not theirs

No matter how much advice you get, it’s your business and you have to run it the way that works for you. While that sounds like such a simple concept, and quite obvious, it is very easy to be persuaded into changing your business because of one person’s opinion, professional or otherwise.

I take you back to the recommendation made to us about the posting schedule. I mentioned we have been advised to post three times a day; what that means is we would need to triple our content production, something that sounds easy enough to do on paper, but harder to execute in real life.

With the McHallsons, we are managing four separate schedules, trying to coordinate four different priorities whilst staying on the same page about every little point. What comes with that is limits, and these limits mean the advice we have been given just doesn’t work for us.

And between you and me, it’s hard enough to get four thirty-somethings in the same room most days!

Whilst all the advice you are absorbing is aimed to build your business, a lot of advice is given to you based on an outsider looking in. Unfortunately, most outsiders don’t know the full story of how you operate, why you make those choices and what values you have that drive your business. At the end of the day, you run the business, and you know what will work best for you.

Lesson learned #3: You had the idea and dream for a reason

I don’t want to get too preachy and #inspirational on you, but I definitely believe you need to stick with your idea and the way you envisioned your business from the beginning. The idea has been worth pursuing for a reason, and it’s important to remember that it’s your pursuit, no anyone else’s.

When I brought my friends together to put together the business, I wanted to explore the idea of working together on what would normally be a solo project. I was tired of working solo, having done so for many years, and I wanted to share the creative process with people I could trust and could work with.

I also knew that we had something different to offer; being a group of guys and girls, we present a different to approach to how we see bloggers online. We are offering an unrepresented part of life online: the friendship group, and we love that we aren’t like everyone else.

Backing yourself is just as important as the idea itself. You have to love what you do, you have to wake up every day and be excited and motivated by it. Don’t let advice change what you love about your business, or be what demotivates you.

The cliché piece of advice

When it comes to advice, take it with a grain of salt. There are so many conflicting opinions in business over just the smallest of details, and listening to everyone on every single thing is just impossible. You will literally drive yourself crazy! Instead, focus on what has worked for you, rinse it and repeat it. And then repeat it again!

If you are ever in doubt, just remember there are people out there breaking conventions and ignoring advice, and doing quite well! And I am proud to say my little business is one of them.   

Ellen McRae

feels most herself in front of a piece of prose, deep in the chapters of a book, or when submerged in pop culture and fashion publications. However, her entrepreneurial spirit is strong, and as a business owner, she loves exploring the balance of passion and logic. Connect with her on Instagram.

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