The FOUR GREAT MYTHS of starting a business

Gig worker, freelancer, e-lancer and sole trader — it seems just about everyone has a business on the side. Yet there are a lot of persistent myths about what it means to start a real business. Business Foundations chief executive Phil Kemp looks at the four of the biggest myths that can set you up for failure.

There is more opportunity than ever before for people to start their own business, they some strange ideas persist about what running a business actually entails.

Tell someone you are planning to start up a venture and odds on, they will tell you one of the same four things — let’s call them the Four Great Myths of starting a business.

But the Four Great Myths can set you up for failure.

There you are, months into your new start-up, working harder than you ever have before and if these myths are still ringing in your ears you might feel like you have made a terrible mistake.

You haven’t.

Running a small business is one of the most rewarding — but also one of the hardest — things someone can do but step one is to stop believing the process is easy.

 

So what are the Four Great Myths of starting a business?

1.   You won’t have a boss to deal with

The problem with ditching your ‘real boss’ by quitting a job and starting a small business is that you end up with far more bosses. In fact, you gain a boss in every client you have.  Each will demand things from you, set timelines, tell you when they aren’t happy with your work and watch what you do and make judgements. You need to be on top of your game with customer service and ensure that the people that choose to buy from you get excellence, each and every time you provide them a service or product.  There are no excuses for being off your game.

What’s the solution?

Start noticing what good customer service looks like – and read up on it if you aren’t sure you have the skills. Even reading review sites about your competitors will quickly tell you what customers want and what they hate.

 

2.   You will have more time

Oh so you started a small business to get some work-life balance? Whoops. The idea is that by starting a business you gain more time for yourself than you would have when working for someone else.  That’s not really true. It is likely you will have a more flexible schedule, which can mean you can include non-business activities into your day, such as caring for children or someone else, or a yoga session or coffee with friends when you like.  At the very least, you can empty the dishwasher while making work calls. But the work still needs to get done, and as the owner that means time spent not just doing the work of the business, but on all the other stuff: invoicing, social media marketing, meeting with clients, taking phone calls from customers and suppliers and maybe also managing staff. 

What’s the solution?

Work hard when you should and take breaks when you can. You don’t have to work 9 to 5 – the invoices might be done better at 10pm when the kids are in bed or you have had time to go to the gym. Invest time in figuring out the most efficient ways to do the things you prefer not to do. It’s better to pay a bookkeeper than never send out your invoices.  

 

3.   Build it and they will come

Starting a small business isn’t as simple as creating a website and a social media account and telling the world that you are open for business.  A pipeline of customers needs to be developed willing to pay you for your service or products, and that takes time.  The world of business is now global, so just as you researched your new business on the internet and found your niche, your customers have done the same thing looking for the product or service that you want to provide. Right now, they are weighing up your offer and that of three others — possibly from a far-flung part of the world. It takes longer than you think to get the word out that your business is in the mix so budget and are buying that from someone right now.  Marketing will take more time than you think.

What’s the solution?

Market research is crucial. Understand exactly what your customers want, where they get it, how much they pay, what their drivers are and what might make them switch to you. The more effort you put in to understanding your product and market, the better off you will be.

4.   Running a business is the path to wealth

There are great rewards from running your own small business, but money isn’t always one of them.  The most successful business people start a small business to fulfil a passion for the work that they do, or to create something unique.  They provide excellent customer experiences, produce high quality work and are efficient and timely in how they do things.  They derive great personal satisfaction from owning and operating their own small business. 

But for many small business owners, if they calculated their own hourly rate, many would be better off working for someone else. 

There are, indeed, some extraordinarily wealthy business owners, and with the risk of starting a small business can come strong financial rewards.  But don’t expect to be Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch straight out of the blocks.

What’s the solution?

Avoid the trap of ‘buying yourself a job’. Sometimes people purchase a business solely for the perceived cash returns rather than because they will enjoy what they can achieve. If you don’t love what you do, you are probably better off working for someone else.

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So those are the Great Four Myths but here’s the kicker — even though they are not true, running a small business may be the best thing you have ever done. The trick is to get the right advice, at the right time, from the right people.

At Business Foundations we work with thousands of small business owners each year from early start-ups to scale-ups and those pushing into the international market. Our team is highly experienced in solving exactly the kind of problems that keep you awake at night. Give us a call or book a free appointment for a chat today.