“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”– Thomas Edison
So you are ready to start your own business? You’ve brainstormed your business idea, spoken to friends and family about your plans and are ready to leave your full time job to work for yourself and start realising your dreams. So, having read numerous books, blogs and articles on entrepreneurship you are standing on the ledge about to plunge into the unknown.
Wait! Just a few seconds. Familiarise yourself with some of the misconceptions of starting and successfully running your own business.
Related: Beyond the business plan: Implementing your start-up strategy
Demystifying the myths
Misconception 1: You need to be niche
You have to reinvent the wheel. You have to be another Facebook or Apple. You have to bring an incredible, never-before-seen differentiation point, product or service to the market that will outwit and outsmart your competitors all of the time.
No! You don’t. The sad reality is that a ‘niche’ does not guarantee success, and it won't save your business from failure either. Your business should be built if you have a valuable product or service at a reasonable price that potential customers want to buy.
Period! Don’t reinvent the wheel. Some of the most successful businesses have a similar product/service than their competitors. They just do things a little bit better, offer a little bit more and satisfy a few more customers.
Misconception 2: You need to have unlimited confidence
Should you enjoy being at the center of attention? Should you be an extrovert or social butterfly? Should you like speaking in front of people? The answer is no to all these questions.
It's natural to doubt yourself when it comes to promoting your business, new products or services or ‘sell yourself’ as an expert. Starting a new business is about getting out there and doing it anyway, even if the fear, worry, and doubts outweigh your confidence.
Misconception 3: You will become an instant success
Unfortunately a lot of prospective young entrepreneurs think they will become an overnight success. I’ve got news for you! These young entrepreneurs are inspired to start their own business by witnessing individuals that are currently successful.
They study the success story instead of the origin of that success story, which often includes massive struggle, long hours, tears, anger and a roller coaster of emotions prior to the breakthrough. Truth is, it takes at least 7 to 10 years to become an overnight success.
Misconception 4: You make your own hours
No you don’t! If that is your point of view, then rather stay in your 9 to 5 job. Your boss makes the hours but at least you know what hours you are expected to work. I've lost count of the number of times people have told me how great it must be for me to run my own business because, as the owner, I get to make my own hours.
What they don't realise is that since it is my own business, it's incredibly difficult to ever turn it off – something I am personally trying to work on. During the first 2 years of starting my own business, I worked on average 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, get ready to answer emails at 1 am in the morning, to meet clients at 6 am in the morning, field a Skype call at 7 pm at night or taking a call from a prospective client during a rugby game at 5 pm on a Saturday afternoon.
Related: Business Plan Template
Misconception 5: You are rich, sexy, unstoppable and taking over the world
Entrepreneurship is not sexy! Entrepreneurs don’t get rich instantly nor are they unstoppable. And most certainly, they don’t take over the world. In starting your own business you will meet a client, make your own coffee, do all the administrative work and knock on doors for business. Wearing all the caps and transforming yourself by taking on various roles is part and parcel of the challenge.
In most cases you won’t be able to pay yourself for years. If you want a guaranteed salary, stick to your day job! Don’t focus on taking over the world – rather focus on improving the industry bit by bit or making a small mark in the lives of a few people (customers).
Misconception 6: Starting a business comes with complete freedom
The biggest lie is that running your own company allows you to set your own hours and gives you total freedom. If you want to start your own business for freedom, think again.
The freedom that comes with starting a business is the opportunity to get your business idea implemented and the joy of watching your business take shape and solve real problems people have with time. Of course you have the freedom to change direction as you deem fit but most your time will be taken up by meetings, appointments, events and everything else required to successfully run a new business.
Misconception 7: You need lots of money to get started
In the current age of abundance of free business resources, you can start a business with little or no money. You don’t need the help of an investor. There are hundreds of free resources, tips and blog posts about bootstrapping your business that you can access. Funding in any case is no guarantee for success.
Misconception 8: You will attract lots of customers from day 1
No you won’t. Most start-up businesses I work with only make their first sales after 6 months of starting the business. Plan for the worse but expect the very best. Most businesses fail because they’ve made plans based on exponential growth right from the beginning.
You shouldn’t expect customers to flock to your business, even if you think you have the greatest idea in the world. Never stop marketing and make sure you have enough money to continue marketing; just in case some customers find it difficult to find you