Before you become a business owner and even once you are running a successful business, many people will offer you advice on what entrepreneurship is like and how a business should be operated.
But you’ll find that not all those guiding principles turn out to be true for you and your particular business. It’s important to identify and dispel common business myths and recognise what your startup really needs.
‘Protect your ideas at all costs’
Your business starts with an idea and it grows as you develop that idea. It can be bad for your business to refuse the guidance of others because you’re scared they will steal your ideas.
Trusted mentors are as important to a business owner as the idea itself. Find your go-to people, who can support what you are trying to do, and let them help you turn your ideas into achievable plans.
‘You don’t need a business plan-just an idea’
A business plan isn’t just to show investors and bank managers. They are more than faked projections for the future. They are proof that you’ve actually thought your idea through and understand the obstacles you’ll have to overcome to succeed.
Every business needs a plan that shows where your company has been and provides a framework for where it’s headed. It allows both you and your employees to stay on the same page by spelling out the details of your ideas and lets mentors know where they can be of most help.
‘You won’t get anywhere without investors’
To get ideas off the ground, many have turned to investors and venture capitalism. But beware of beliefs that are based on buzzwords. Don’t try and run with a big budget before you can walk with your startup costs. Dragon’s Den style investment might be popular, but it’s not necessarily the right step or only way to start your business.
The harm in the buzz comes from a focus on the ‘quick-fix’ for fast growth. Running a business isn’t always instant success and not every business relies on the interest of investors. Don’t let a lack of investors keep you from growing a business.
‘Spend money to make money’
Every business has start-up and upkeep costs, but this adage is used to justify big spending. It’s important to understand that you may not have major cash flow, the custom desk or the ergonomic chairs right away.
‘If you build it, they will come’
Some entrepreneurs forego marketing thinking the product will sell itself. But you need a marketing plan to cut through the noise and reach your potential buyers. Otherwise, those customers may never find you.
That marketing plan has to include an active online presence. Even local buyers turn first to Google to research your company and decide if they want to buy from you.
‘You get to do what you love’
Especially at the start, a business owner has a varied role. Many times, tasks fall to you that you don’t love like handling problems with employees or even bookkeeping. You can’t ignore these responsibilities, even when they take up more than half your time.
This is why so many business owners have moved their processes to the cloud. It makes the necessary functions of a business a little easier and leaves you more time to focus on what you love.
‘It must be nice to have control of your schedule’
Some hold that entrepreneurs must work 24/7 while others believe you have complete control of your schedule. You are a business owner all of the time which means you may have to put in extra hours and you won’t always have control of your schedule.
But you don’t have to work all the time. Learn to understand what time and attention your business needs, what you can’t control and what limits you should set for yourself to give yourself a break.
‘You are your own boss’
Being a business owner is more than control over a business and your own career. Being your own boss means you determine what’s best for the business as a whole, and that’s not always what is best for you.
So, yes, you are the boss, but when you own a business, you answer to many other people. Happy employees, amiable vendors and satisfied customers are necessary for any successful business.
Every industry, company and business owner is different, meaning hard and fast rules are few and far between.
Learn to listen, absorb and follow advice from those who have been there, but only in the context of the needs and realities of your own startup. And ignore those business myths that don’t tell the whole story.