You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

4 Assumptions Keeping Your Startup Grounded Transitioning from startup to profitable business is painstaking and arduous. Many entrepreneurs have assumptions about the process that can make it endless.

By Weston Bergmann

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

America is in the midst of an entrepreneurial renaissance. Incubators are popping up everywhere, investors are coming out of the woodwork. America, pat yourself on the back! Life-long corporate employees are quitting their jobs to strike out on their own. People are starting businesses with the potential to bring countless benefits that no one can predict, assuming of course, the startup survives the transition to a thriving business. The process is not what it looks like.

A quick metaphor. A yoga instructor recently told me something interesting. People watch the teacher do a pose, then try the pose themselves, and almost never succeed, no matter how hard they work. "You can't learn yoga by watching,'' he told me. "Seeing somebody do it won't tell you the process for doing it. Learn the step-by-step, the small adjustments and avoidable mistakes everyone makes, and next thing you know you're standing on your head.''

Related: Survive the Small-to-Big Transition

The same is true for startups. Watching and reading about prolific entrepreneurs is worthwhile but, paradoxically, can lead to four mistaken assumptions that make it hard for startups to just start.

1. A Startup Isn't a Business. A startup is the search for the business model, while a business is the implementation of a known model. There is a huge difference. When you're just starting, practically everything about your startup - pricing, distribution, target market, revenue streams - is all guesswork. Your launch is the first of many tests that will answer the big questions about your startup. The tests yield data that will lead you to tweak your model until it works smoothly and sustainably.

Once you have proven that you know how to deliver your product to people who love it, and you have a replicable mechanism for growth, you've reached the crucial stage of product/market fit. Then write all the business plans all you want. If you follow this methodology your product will evolve from your original vision to mirror the market's needs, not yours.

2. Don't pitch investors before your pitch is irresistable. If all you have is an idea, a "business plan," your best friend and maybe a wireframe or prototype, you have too little to interest a sophisticated investor. Gamblers sink money into pre-traction startups, investors don't.

Raise money from friends and family if you must, don't raise it at all if you can get by, but don't pitch investors before you are ready. Launch early with a smaller version of your product. Build that product with people motivated by equity. Drip it to them slowly so you don't give it up all-at-once to someone who could turn out an incorrect fit. Tweak the offering until it fits. Then you're investable. Sell your story to angel investors who can help you scale the small, but proven, feature-set.

Related: 10 Questions to Answer Before Pitching Investors

3. Walk the walk, then talk the talk. Pop quiz! Which of the following will make your startup a real business?

a. Attending every single networking event in a 20-mile radius.

b. Adding so many stickers to your laptop that a bullet proof coating forms.

c. Referring to yourself as a "ninja'' on LinkedIn.

d. Living out every possible stereotype you see on HBO's "Silicon Valley."

Yeah, none of the above will make your startup thrive but actually building a startup does. Systematically test your ideas in a real marketplace with real customers. Anything more than a simple first offering will make it too difficult to just start.

4. "Striving for perfection" is not launching. Launch early. Launch fast. Accept that bugs and imperfections will happen. You will not always know immediately how to fix them. Stop organizing focus groups. Burn your surveys. Just launch already. You will learn more about running a startup in the first two weeks after launch than most MBA program teach in two years.

Don't be scared of the ramifications.. Every startup begins with too few customers. Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself to the early few because their feedback, even negative, is the map to becoming a real business.

Related: Biggest Startup Mistakes to Avoid

Weston Bergmann is the lead investor in BetaBlox, an equity-based business incubator for startup entrepreneurs in Kansas City. He’s acquired part of roughly 70 startups in the last two years.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business Solutions

Handle In-House Projects More Efficiently with MS Project Pro — Just $24 Through April 16

It's designed to help teams stay on task with features like management templates, timesheets, generators, and more.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business News

Here's One Thing Americans Would Take a Pay Cut For — Besides Remote Work

An Empower survey found a high percentage of respondents would take a pay cut for better retirement benefits and remote work options.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.