If you’ve even been considering starting a business, you’ve probably already heard advice from so many different quarters your head is spinning.

Mom has an opinion. Your sister has an opinion. Strangers on the internet with webinars have an opinion.

Welcome to the Masterclass in Avoiding Bad Business Advice. Sit down. Let’s talk about those strangers with webinars.

As a liker of Facebook pages, you get shown a lot of ads. And since you’re interested in entrepreneurship, Facebook’s algorithm is going to serve up a big fat chunk of business and marketing webinars. Mmm, tasty.

At the end of the show, there’s always a pitch.

I have nothing against sales webinars. I plan to use them to sell a marketing course I’m putting out this winter/spring/when I have five minutes to myself again. (More on that post-launch.) I watch them myself to get an idea of what other people are doing, and I’ve even purchased a course through one before (which I’m quite satisfied with).

But there’s good reason to be skeptical of many of them. So how do you tell the difference between Business Gospel and Business Bunk?

The first 10 minutes of the training are the Me Show.

Ohhhhh my god, shut UP, dude. I don’t care about your stupid boat! One of the big red flags that business advice is a pile of flaming garbage is 10 or more torturous minutes describing the presenter’s fabulous lifestyle.

This all boils down to “I am very rich and you too can be very rich if you give me your money!”

It’s also what the less generous of us call a fucking lie. Absolutely anyone can look like they have money. And just because a person is rich does not mean they have The Business Secret of Secrets. You know who else is rich? Kevin O’Leary. Donald Trump. Neither of these dudes are very good at operating businesses.

If a “business guru” spends more time giving you an account of their impressive possessions than business tips, shut it down. You’re not going to learn anything there.

They use a lot of tricky math.

This one is hard to spot when you’re first starting out because you don’t know enough about what the math should look like.

Here’s an example of what I mean: I watched a webinar once about generating client leads without costs. Essentially it boiled down to selling the customer a low-price item, like an ebook, after they signed up for your email list. The idea was, if the ebook was $20, and your advertising cost was $7 per person for a sign up, every ebook sold would pay for about 3 new email subscribers.

Still with me? The weird part came when the presenter said “Now imagine your sales page for the ebook converts at 30%.” For the uninitiated, that means 30% of everyone who visits the page buys a copy of the $20 book.

Now, at this point in my ad-buying, selling information product-ing life, the record scratched. Because a really, really effective sales page converts at about 10-15%. His estimate – and what he encouraged people to expect in a series of imaginary sales projections based on that estimate – was fully twice what the top 1% of sales pages can do.

Always, always check any “let’s assume your X does Y” against industry averages. Because some of those assumptions can be downright dangerous, magical thinking.

They have overblown promises.

There’s always a huge disclaimer on business training telling you results are not typical and they’re not responsible for your potential failure to launch. Fair enough.

The reason business advisors need to cover their legal ass like this is because, well, lots of them imply that if you just purchase their course or follow their system you’ll be rich and popular like them.

Now, every business advisor in the world will tell you what the strategies they present did for their business, that’s normal. Here’s what you need to watch for:

  • Throwing around the word “millions” throughout the training
  • Talking about low effort versus high return
  • Putting a lot of emphasis on how “easy” their system is

Those flags? They are the reddest. Pivot and walk in the other direction, girl.

Their materials look like a third-grader made them.

Anyone who is bragging about their millions and has a Powerpoint straight out of 1992 is, at the very least, not aware of the value of looking professional. This is bad news for what they have to say. (And extremely distracting. RIGHT ALIGN THE PICTURES OF YOUR BOAT, BRA.)

There are hundreds of people on Fiverr who can make a slide deck that doesn’t look like a bag of butts. Why would you take advice from someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know? (What they don’t know is how to design things that look nice.)

Golden rule: It doesn’t have to be stunningly beautiful, but it shouldn’t be so terrible your eyes bleed.

Keep this in your back pocket.

There are plenty of business advisors and course creators out there with really valuable webinars, training, and podcasts! I’ve certainly watched some webinars where I didn’t buy the product but got real value.

The caveat here is: any material a business advisor (even me!) produces is at least partly a sales tool. But if they’re trying too hard to impress you with a flashy lifestyle, crazy money promises and made-up math – it’s probably more sales tool than value.

Stay tuned for my webinar! Just kidding.