I love what I do. I get to look at creative businesses all day long and dream about what they are doing, could be doing and maybe even should be doing. I use the sum of all of my experience to see around blind corners, create new ideas and hone the best of what already exists. And, like all artists, sometimes I am just dead wrong. I rely (heavily) on people I trust to tell me when I am going down a road that does not smell right to them.
Everyone should have people in their lives that unquestioningly support everything they do. These people give us the confidence to put it all out there in the first place. Often, they see in us what we do not in ourselves. However, if they can not be counted on to call you on the carpet now and again, these are not the people you should be taking business advice from, no matter how well qualified they might be to give it to you.
Likewise, you should also avoid listening to those that will put cold water on every idea/initiative you have. We have all had experience with someone who likes to find the weakness of your plan as evidence of why it will not work. Pointing out a problem is easy, solutions not so much. Never allow someone to tell you their opinion on what “the problem” is, if they do not also have a suggestion on how to fix it.
The key is to find those who are willing to go down the path with you, but can smell when something is off (and are not afraid to tell you so). My only caveat is to make sure these are your peers – people who have had real, lasting success in what you are looking to them to advise you on. Don’t ask your accountant for marketing advice just because you like his newsletter, your web designer for PR advice just because you like her work (or her blog), or your lawyer for thoughts on strategy if you like the term sheet she wrote.
You have to constantly put your ideas out there to discover the gem. By definition, this means you are going to come up with some lulus along the way. Art is uncertain and risky. Without permission to be wrong, you will likely wind up safe, stale, and broke. However, if you are willing to put the ideas out there in the first place and surround yourself with those that will help you best filter them, the lulus will get their fifteen minutes and then fade away to make room for those that deserve a lifetime.