Work whenever you want, make millions, and retire on the beach sipping exotic cocktails.
This is the allure of starting a small business — the ability to be your own boss and live on easy street. And for a handful of lucky entrepreneurs, it does work out that way.
The reality for most small business owners is very different. In fact, roughly 90 percent of all startups ultimately fail. One explanation for this high failure rate is that many entrepreneurs are attracted to business for the wrong reasons. They fall victim to common myths, and grossly underestimate the difficulty involved with launching a startup.
Let’s take a look.
4 Common Misconceptions About Starting a Small Business
How many of the following entrepreneurial myths have you fallen for in the past?
1. Good Ideas Sell Themselves
Myth: If you put your million-dollar idea into the ether, the sales will start rolling in.
Yet, the Internet is full of brilliant innovations that you’ve never heard of (and never will). This is because having a great idea isn’t enough. You’ve got to aggressively market your products and services — no matter how appealing you think they are.
Moreover, you’ve got to test, improve and rejigger your formula constantly in order to move the needle.
2. You Need a Blockbuster Product
Myth: Your product must be ready for prime time on Day 1.
Many entrepreneurs spend months (if not years) developing their ideas in secret. They want to launch with the finished version of their idealized product. But if you don’t have a ready market, you’re likely wasting valuable time and money.
A better approach is to develop a simple prototype that’s attractive and functional enough to secure your first customers. Once you have a minimum viable product and a few sales, you can use that money to improve the overall design with additional bells and whistles.
3. Be First — or Go Home
Myth: Whoever is first to market takes home all the spoils.
Having a first-mover advantage is great. You’re offering something that no one else has, but being first to market isn’t necessary. As long as you fill a niche or offer something unique, you can thrive in even the most competitive business environments.
For example, the pizza business is pretty saturated. But if you can deliver your pies faster or prepare them for a fraction of the cost, there’s plenty of room for growth. Even the most established companies in the world aren’t immune to new competition. Just ask Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster and Tower Records.
4. Success Is Measured in Dollars
Myth: Making tons of cash is the ultimate goal.
Profitability is great, but it’s not always about money. In fact, you might end up becoming even more successful if you direct your focus toward social benefits such as:
- Raising awareness of important causes
- Protecting the environment
- Mentoring those who come after you
This concept goes by many different names. Becoming a responsible “corporate citizen” is a proven strategy for sustainable growth, whether you measure success in dollars, carbon savings or goodwill.
5 Hidden Truths About Starting a Small Business
There’s another reason why the startup failure rate is so high. Many would-be entrepreneurs stay on the sidelines out of fear.
They’d likely succeed if they tried, but these prospective business owners are often unaware of the hidden truths of entrepreneurship. As a result, they grossly overestimate the difficulty involved.
Are any of these truths preventing you from launching a startup?
1. You Don’t Need a Lot of Money to Get Started
A lot of prospective entrepreneurs think you need bank loans or venture capital to get off the ground. Yet, it’s possible to launch a successful business on a lean, shoestring budget.
This is especially true if:
- You focus on developing that minimum viable product (discussed above)
- You invest only in the tools you need (and avoid the ones you don’t)
2. You Can Keep Your Day Job
Starting a small business isn’t easy. You’ll have to invest long hours, especially during the early stages. That said, you don’t need to quit your full-time job to make your new venture work.
In fact, many successful entrepreneurs start by working evenings, weekends, and the occasional lunch break. Once the sales start coming in, they scale back to working part-time. They quit their day jobs once the business becomes truly sustainable.
3. You Need Only 1 Customer (for Now)
Most entrepreneurs want their startups to enjoy mass appeal — being all things to all people. If you’re able to accomplish this, more power to you.
To succeed, you only need that first customer. With just one sale, you know your product has a ready market. Thereafter, it’s simply a matter of promoting your idea to other customers within the same niche.
In other words, if you can sell a widget once, you can sell it a million times. So, direct your focus to winning that first sale.
4. There’s No Right Time to Start
Are you putting off your startup until the timing is perfect? Maybe you’re waiting for the kids to go to college. Or perhaps you’re delaying until you get that raise.
In truth, there is no right time. Life will always be hectic and complicated. So start now. The sooner you begin, the more money you’ll make — and your future self will be thankful you took initiative today.
5. You Don’t Need Special Training
Don’t know how to code? Not a great writer? Clueless about business fundamentals?
Not to worry.
For starters, there’s a huge market of freelancers who can help you with every skill under the sun — from graphic design to copywriting to web development. Sites such Guru.com and Upwork.com let you easily (and affordably) outsource your needs on a case-by-case basis.
Second, there’s often an “app for that” — no matter what you’re trying to accomplish:
- CMS platforms such as Wordpress and Drupal make it easy to set up a professional website in a matter of minutes, even if you don’t know a single line of code.
- Drag-and-drop shopping carts enable you to begin selling your products and services online without any technical skills whatsoever.
- Payment integration allows you to sync the moving components of your business into a unified system.
- Your books are automatically updated — without the need of an accountant.
- Your sales funnel is always up to date — without constantly editing your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
One Final Truth About Starting a Small Business
At times, it may feel like it’s you against the world. Just know that you’re not alone.
At BluePay, we are here to help you get your new venture off the ground. We have an entire department dedicated to servicing the payment processing needs of small business owners.