The Best Piece of Business Advice These 7 Leaders Ever Received

Mentors, coaches and friends can often know what you need to hear before you do.

Some business lessons you have to learn the hard way. You know that stress can take its toll, but there’s nothing like burning the candle at both ends to make that lesson really stick. But other lessons are better spent learning from of others — be they friends, mentors, coaches or authors. Sometimes you have to hear someone else say what you really need to hear even if you’ve thought it a thousand times yourself. 

To get some inspiration, Seek Capital spoke with several business leaders to ask them: What’s the best piece of business advice you ever received? Check out their answers below and consider how you could apply it to your own business.

1. Become a Storyteller

“The greatest advice I’ve ever received was by my friend and advisor. He drilled into me the importance of storytelling,” said Brian Folmer, founder and CEO of FirstLook, which . “The majority of the most successful people ever are simply amazing at telling compelling stories that move people, and inspire them to take action. This has been really meaningful to me as I build my company. So much of being a founder is telling stories to convince people you’re doing something special. This is especially true for startups where you don’t have metrics, all you have is a vision and a voice. I’ve had some big wins early on, and so much of that can be attributed to me learning every facet of what sharing a great story looks like.”

2. Don’t Marry Your Business

“Always reach high, but never marry your product,” said Tim Denman, chief marketing and sales officer at ServGrow. “In other words, always put your own things, like family — first. Your business and product will always go up and down, best what we can do is giving our max to reach high goals and beyond. However, if and when this starts affecting our personal lives, it will also start affecting the business side, so it’s extremely important to create a healthy work-life balance.”

See: 12 Entrepreneurs Discuss the Big Risk They Took That Paid Off

3. Fire Yourself 

“The best business advice I have ever received was ‘Learn to fire yourself,’” said Jocelyn J. Kopac, CEO of “As your business grows, everyone will tell you that hiring slow, firing fast and budgeting for more than you plan is the strategy you need to follow. But it was about two years ago, when I was burned out and pulling my hair out on how best to grow, that a business coach said, ‘I give you permission, and honestly want you to start firing yourself.’ As your team and business grows you may find that you are the biggest bottle neck, and you need to get out of your own way and your team’s way to make everything run smoothly.”

4. Set the Bar High

“Always set the bar high for yourself. One of my all-time favorite quotes [from Shannon Mihaly] is ‘the only time to set the bar low is for limbo.’ As a young female founder, this piece of advice has stuck with me even when I first started this company at 19 years old,” said Claire Coder, CEO and founder of Aunt Flow, a woman-owned menstrual product company. “The overarching female mentality is that we are not enough, we don’t know enough, we don’t have enough, we are not old enough, pretty enough, savvy enough. Therefore we may not succeed because we are not enough. Wherever we are at right now is enough, and we can do it! Thus, I was told that I wouldn’t be taken seriously being a female entrepreneur at the age of 23. These things are frustrating to hear repetitively, but I continue to use my resources and strive to prove these ideas wrong by raising the bar higher and higher with each goal I accomplish.”

Also: 30 Small Business Marketing Ideas You Can Do Yourself

5. Own Your Wins — And Your Losses

“To be successful in business and for that matter, anywhere in life, the best thing you can do is to take 100% responsibility,” said Mick McKeown, CEO and owner of Pennovia Company. “If you own your wins and mistakes, people want to work with you. They will recognize your integrity and trust you more in the future than someone who sugarcoated and didn’t accept blame. This has transferred into my business. When I take responsibility for my mistakes, I find that my employees respect and trust me more than if I made them believe I was a perfect human being. It has created a very open culture in our business and I would recommend it for any business owner.”

See: The 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Should Have — Regardless of Industry

6. Run Every Business Like a Hotel

“The best piece of advice I was given said ‘that all businesses should be run like a hotel. Whatever rooms you didn’t sell last night you will never get back no matter how many rooms you sell tomorrow,'” said Jonathan Bass, CEO and founder of Whom Home. “Meaning you should never leave anything you can do today for tomorrow. This made me try and finish everything I could before I went home. Never leaving it for the next day.”

7. Your Brand Should Reflect You

“The best piece of business advice I ever received was that your company’s brand should be a reflection of yourself. People buy from people, not brands,” said Christine Nguyen, CEO and founder of Limitless Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to accessible and equitable healthcare. “The ideas that your company stands for cannot be incongruent with the ideas that you stand for personally. When marketing or raising funds, we inevitably have to reach out to our own personal networks first, so it’s important that you have an established connection with these causes or values prior to launching your company.”

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