The Single Best Piece of Business Advice I've Received in my Career


Being in business means making countless decisions. On a nonstop basis, you are confronted with questions like, “How are we going to make the product better?” and “Why are we doing it this way?” Perhaps you’ve laid awake wondering, “Are people going to ‘get it’?” or “Can it scale?” It can be daunting, but also empowering to make these choices. Ultimately, they will be the determining factors of how successful your business will become.

In moments when I am confronted with a tough decision, I refer back to a piece of advice that a very, very successful business person once gave me. Simply:

Don’t ignore your gut.

When my mentor gave me this advice, she elaborated by saying, “All of the mistakes I’ve made in my career were times when I ignored that little voice inside.” In a world where we are inundated with outside opinions, our intuition is something we come by honestly.  Sometimes, all the data in the world could not change how we feel about something. And I'm here to tell you that's OK! 

The art of this practice, therefore, is tuning into that inner voice and trusting ourselves to go with our gut. Find a method that helps you get in touch with your intuition. Start a journal, meditate for a few minutes each day, or talk it out with a person who is close to you. Even jotting an idea on a Post-It note can help make an idea more concrete. Be prepared to defend your point and share your reasoning, because saying “It’s a strong feeling that I have,” typically won’t win over your client or manager, particularly the data-driven type. You may have to get creative, but if you feel passionately enough about it, the rest will follow.

Sometimes, the reward will be instant. You will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders, even when you know that there will be more hard work ahead. Other times, your opinion will be challenged. Take comfort in the fact that you are engaged in an honest pursuit. The reward may come later, and you will be defending a choice made in earnest. Eventually the truth, as they say, will set you free.

Sara Soergel