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The Worst Business Advice You Ever Received

Posted by Bob Warfield on March 21, 2011

I’m looking forward to the great comment thread that will no doubt ensure from this theme.  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, one of my favorite marketing bloggers, has issued a challenge to relate the worst business advice you’ve ever received.

Here was my 2 cents:

My two most successful startups began despite receiving advice that they could never work.

Ben Rosen told me not to bother trying to compete with Lotus 1-2-3 at my first startup. The end result was Borland’s Quattro Pro spreadsheet. Rosen was a Board member at Borland and we both had a good laugh about that one.

The second was when one of the world’s foremost experts on Genetic Algorithms showed up to a VC presentation I was making about a technology involving Genetic Algorithms. This Stanford PhD professor advised the VC’s that the concept couldn’t be made to work. 10 months later we had sold the company (Integrity QA Software) to Pure Atria and the product is still available today from IBM–Rational Test Factory.  To this day I wished I’d had him autograph his book on Genetic Algorithms with his advice.  Alas, I didn’t bring my copy to the meeting.

The world is full of experts who will tell you the many reasons something can’t be done. That’s what experts do.  But if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you’ll learn to follow your heart. Sometimes it easier to succeed at something that can’t be done just because nobody else is trying.

If you’ve got a good story about the worst business advice you’ve ever received, go ahead and post on John’s thread.  It’ll be great to see all the anecdotes.

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