6 Myths That Cause First-Time Entrepreneurs to Self-Destruct
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
What’s the major difference between entrepreneurs with a successful first year launch and those who struggle beyond expectations? Not surprisingly, it's their mindset.
Surely, a startup’s first 12 months are ripe with challenges, and every founder understands that going into the process. What many forget is the power of their personal beliefs -- and the myths they’ve bought into about entrepreneurship.
Though the phenomenon of unwittingly setting self-limitations isn’t relegated to newbie entrepreneurs, it’s common among their ranks. And it spreads like wildfire unless you make a point to douse the embers before they flare.
Whether you’re an expert in your niche, looking for answers to a problem or striving to change the world with your business, stop limiting yourself and your business’s success by believing in these common misconceptions:
1. You’re wasting money if you travel for business.
Think business travel is a luxury? If you opt not to travel, how are you going to build your business and promote your startup, especially when you’re the new entity on the block?
Traveling for business helps expand your network of potential investors, clients, employees and suppliers. Sure, your budget may be tight, but that isn’t an excuse to languish behind your office desk. A National Small Business Association report reveals that 31 percent of surveyed businesses used credit cards to finance their business last year, so it makes sense to choose a card that compensates your business with points.
Target the cheapest airfare with Google Flights, and leverage resources like Upgraded Points to maximize credit card rewards.
2. The universe is conspiring against you.
Have you ever felt like the world has it in for you? Barrier after barrier seems to crop up out of nowhere to prevent progress toward your ultimate goal. Meanwhile, your competitors apparently sail by, problem-free. Psychologists Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai call that way of thinking the headwinds/tailwinds effect, and it can convince us that we have it harder than others, when, in reality, we might be placing obstacles in our own way without even realizing it.
Awareness is key, so keep the headwinds/tailwinds effect at the forefront of your mind. Rather than make excuses, write new goals to keep yourself motivated. Accept responsibility for your failures, and identify which obstacles are within your control. This will help keep you from becoming your own worst enemy with self-sabotaging decisions.
3. You’re the boss, so you’re in it alone.
You may be the boss, but you won’t snatch the brass ring if you keep your dreams to yourself. Instead, share them with others so you don’t feel alone. Even if you don’t have cofounders or employees yet, build your tribe.
Take advantage of the resources available to you. Consider renting a great coworking office space or joining an innovation community or accelerator program, if your city offers them. If not, go online and network. Slack has more than 100 communities just for startup CEOs.
4. Without a “Shark Tank” level investor, your startup will sink.
With shows like “Shark Tank” all the rage, you might fall into the belief that the only way to get your ship afloat is with the help of some funding angels. However, 76 percent of entrepreneurs rely on their own coffers for financing. In addition, 83 percent rely on a little help, emotional and/or financial, from their friends and family.
It can be hard to find investors, particularly if you’re peddling something novel or untried. Begin searching for investment dollars closer to home before wooing top investors.
5. You have to reinvent the wheel.
Standing out as a brand means overcoming competitors in your marketplace. Maybe that means identifying a weakness where customers aren't satisfied with current offerings. Rising above the crowd might mean implementing a new technology that differentiates your company from the others. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or invent a wholly new product or service to do that.
Think about Google and Facebook. Google supplanted other search engines that came before it, improving on their flaws. Similarly, Facebook took the social media space in an exciting direction. Now, they’re both worth billions. If you have a good idea but others have beat you to it, don’t give up. Instead, do your homework to discover what’s next in that space and adapt your idea to improve upon what’s already out there.
6. Your financial plan is the only plan that really matters.
While a financial plan is imperative, avoid building your business in silos. Instead, give equal weight to other plans and strategies because everything affects your company’s finances in some way. A social media plan, for example, can have a huge impact on your business’s performance.
You know you need to market your solutions on social media, but don’t expect to toss up a few tweets or posts and call it a day. Social platforms are essential ways to communicate your messaging, and they must be part of a comprehensive marketing mix. Set goals based on your target personas and develop a system to educate and track responses. Otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to fate.
Your startup’s first year might not fly by with ease, but don’t make it tougher than it needs to be. You have more power and control than you think over whether you swim or sink.