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There are many myths about starting and running your own business and it’s difficult to separate the truth from the fiction. Ranging from money to marketing strategies, these myths create unrealistic expectations that might be preventing your success.
Rather than falling victim to them, I have listed 20 common myths about starting and running your own business. From this list, you will gain a more realistic picture of business ownership and start building your business.
1. You need a lot of money.
When starting your own business, you need the minimum amount of money to get your product/service to market. Many companies have bootstrapped their way to success.
One example is MailChimp. Ben Chestnut, Mark Armstrong & Dan Kurzius built the online marketing platform slowly by anticipating customers’ needs and before taking on venture capital investment.
Another example is Wayfair. In 2002, Steve Conine and Niraj Shah founded Wayfair on a shoestring budget in a spare bedroom of Steve’s house. Initially, Wayfair consisted of multiple websites selling a variety of home furnishings. In 2011, Steve and Niraj moved all their websites into one mega destination for home decor.
You can think big but start small. By starting small, you can test your product/service and make necessary changes without risking a lot of money.
2. Relevant business experience and/or a business degree is required.
You might believe that before starting your own business, you need business experience or a business degree. Education and experience are useful, but the best strategy is learning through the process.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
Becoming a successful business owner is about your ability to learn from your mistakes and adapt to change. Your dedication and commitment outweigh your educational credentials.
3. Your idea must be original.
Your idea doesn’t have to be unique to make an impact in the marketplace. Most successful businesses started by improving upon existing products or ideas.
While a student at the University of Michigan, Brain Taylor was looking for a way to add variety to his favorite snack, popcorn. He experimented with natural seasonings and ingredients and shared his creations with friends in the dorm. Upon Taylor’s graduation in 1999, he created a popcorn seasonings company, Kernel Seasons, which is now America’s #1 brand of popcorn seasoning. He created a company improving upon the world’s oldest snack.
A University of Maryland football player, Kevin Plant was tired of the sweaty shirt he wore underneath his jersey. In 1996, Plank designed an athletic undershirt that stayed dry and founded his company Under Armour.
You don’t need complicated product ideas to ensure business success. It is more important that your idea is good rather than original.
4. A detailed business plan is needed.
Because some think business plans should be detailed, they get caught in analysis paralysis and don’t even start their own business. A business plan doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated.
Your plan should include your goals, target audience, and how your sales and marketing strategies will support your business goals.
View your business plan as a living document that you can revise as you become more knowledgeable about your business. As your business grows and changes over time, your business plan should change with it.
5. Only young people can start a new business
There is no age limit when it comes to starting a new business. The following are some
entrepreneurs who started later in life:
+ John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola at the of age 55.
+ Vera Wang was 40 years old when she opened her first fashion boutique in New York.
+ Chip Wilson was 42 years old when he started Lululemon.
+ Julia Child published her first cookbook at the age of 49.
The bottom line is that your age shouldn’t stop you from starting your own business.
6. High risks are part of being in business.
There are risks to starting your business, but that doesn’t mean you put yourself in high-risk situations all the time. Successful business owners are not a result of sheer chance; instead, analysis and smart decisions guide business decisions. Prudent business owners take calculated risks rather than high risks.
It is about balancing risk and reward. You can’t take too many risks that will cause your business to fail.
7. You can’t start your business while having a full-time job.
To reduce the risk of starting your own business, you can keep your full-time job to have income security and benefits. Until your business can pay you a salary, keep your employment to fund your business.
While selling fax machines door-to-door full-time, Sara Blakely launched a side business with Spanx. After 2 years of moonlighting, Blakely quit her job when she knew that Spanx would be successful.
While working full-time as an accountant, Phil Knight started Nike as a side business.
Part-time jobs are also great if you need more time to dedicate to growing your business.
8. Wait for the perfect time.
The reality is that there will never be a perfect time to start your business. Rather than waiting for better economic conditions, spend your time and energy on starting your business.
In 1932, Ole Kirk Christiansen started his toy company, LEGO, at the height of the Great Depression.
During the recession of 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky started Airbnb to pay for their rent.
Joe Colombes created a store chain called Pronto Markets now called Trader Joe’s, during the sluggish economy of the late 1950s. The company operates nearly 300 stores across the US.
These were horrible times to start a business, but it didn’t stop their success and creativity. The timing will never be right — that’s why you need to start right now.
9. You can work fewer hours.
Starting and running a business is not a way to work fewer hours, in fact, it is the opposite. The reality is that you will work more hours than an employee, especially, in the first few years of building your business.
When running your own business, time isn’t in abundance as you will be providing most of the labor in the start-up phase. It is not only about the hours spent working on expanding the business, but also business owners take on more responsibility and accountability—which leads us to the next business myth.
10. You are your own boss.
When making the switch from employee to business owner, you’re switching from answering to one boss to answering to everyone. You will have to answer to your clients/customers as well as investors and employees.
Starting and running a business means you will have more responsibility and accountability. You make the final decisions, but it also means you are accountable for all those decisions. The ultimate responsibility for everything in your business, whether you manage them directly or not, shifts to you.
11. Starting a business is the best way to get rich quickly.
Starting your own business can be a path to good financial security but it doesn’t come overnight. In fact, a successful business is a result of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.
Becoming a business owner is much more than making money. Business is about creating sustainability and learning along the journey. The profits are the rewards for your persistence and dedication to growing the business. For some, the business is part of the legacy to their families or to give back to their community.
12. You will enjoy every part of running your business.
You may love the product/service you provide but it’s unlikely that you will enjoy every part of running a business. In the beginning, you’re probably taking on a lot of those tasks such as bookkeeping and payroll.
There is accounting and payroll software that will help to free up your time to focus on the parts of your business that only you can do. Alternatively, you can outsource some areas of your business if you can comfortably handle the expenses.
13. You need to hire staff to start your own business.
In the beginning, your priority is to keep your business small and manageable to keep costs low. Doing the work yourself will allow you time to learn and experience every role in your business. As a result, you will be able to make better decisions when you get to the stage of hiring staff.
When you can afford it, you can hire employees. Perhaps a part-time employee, or a contractor, is a place to start.
14. An expensive website is needed.
A professional website is a fundamental tool that every company needs but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Your website can be simple, as it will introduce your company, explain your product or service, and present your unique selling point.
Building and maintaining a website is easier and less expensive than you think. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy or creative, there are website builder platforms you can use to create cost-effective and high-quality business websites.
15. You need a nice office to impress customers/clients.
Office space is not a required expense as working from home has become more commonplace since the pandemic. With platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, you can hold virtual client meetings. For in-person meetings, you could simply rent meeting space when needed.
16. You must always be available for clients/customers.
Running your own company is hard work but burnout won’t help you succeed. By setting realistic expectations with clients/customers about your availability, you will create work/life balance to maintain your energy levels. After all, there’s no point in running your own business if it makes you miserable.
17. Never take a vacation or your business will fail.
Your business will not fail just because you took a few days off to recharge. Never taking time off work will set yourself and your business for burnout.
Plan your vacation during slow periods and notify your clients, vendors, and suppliers in advance. It might be impossible to unplug from work, but you should set boundaries around checking on your emails, and employees and only take care of urgent matters.
18. Now you can write off everything.
While it’s true that business owners can write off more than employees, there is a risk in taking this too far. Your deductions should be limited to those things that only relate to operating your business. If you can’t document and cite a connection between the write-off and the operation of your business, you could trigger audits or fines. Keeping good records is critical.
19. Customers will come to you automatically.
Your product or service isn’t enough to generate customers and growth. Since customers have an endless array of choices, you will need to actively promote yourself to your target audience as often as possible. You must sell your unique selling point to your current and prospective customers.
20. Spamming social media users is a great marketing strategy.
Overloading your followers with excessive posts will only cause them to unfollow you. You will need to grab their attention by creating value and not spamming them with thousands of ads every day.
Rather than creating promotional posts, think of ways of adding more value by posting behind-the-scenes videos or educational posts that will build stronger connections with your target audience.
Starting and running your own business is both exciting and challenging. So, if you do have a dream of starting your own business and are believing in any of the myths I have described, stop procrastinating and just try.