7 Deadly Misconceptions About Entrepreneurship and Starting a Business
Don't fall for these seven cardinal sins when launching a start-up.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Starting a business can be one of the most exciting and rewarding things you'll ever do. The process has its challenges, but it's important not to let misconceptions about them stop you from trying. In this article, we'll go over seven common misconceptions about starting a business.
Misconception 1: You don't need a business plan.
There are a lot of misconceptions about starting a business. One of the most common is that you don't need to write a formal business plan. It's easy to understand why this would be so — after all, who has time for more paperwork when you're trying to keep things going as efficiently as possible? The problem with skipping the planning stage is that it can lead to wasted time, money and a poorer product or service than what you could have created.
An example of this is advertising: many start-ups spend thousands on ads without thinking through their audience, budgeting, or messaging strategy. Writing out a marketing plan before investing in any ad buys would help prevent these issues from arising and save you some cash along the way.
The reality is that there are several different kinds of plans — business plans (which detail your company's overarching goals) and financial plans (which provide projections for revenues and costs) are examples — but they all have one thing in common: they help you visualize where your company is headed over time.
Related: 7 Common Misconceptions Young People Have About Entrepreneurship
Misconception 2: You can entirely rely on your financing.
Learning the basics of running a business before seeking financing is essential. While it might sound great to have all that money at your disposal, you could end up in debt before you even start.
There are two common financial mistakes made by people who don't have a lot of experience running a company. The first is relying too much on financing and not having enough personal money invested in the business. This leads to an over-reliance on loans, which can be difficult if the company goes under or runs into trouble. The second mistake is spending too much money on things that aren't helping your business succeed — like a fancy office space or expensive furniture.
Misconception 3: You'll have to choose between work and having a personal life.
You will not have time to handle every single detail. After all, you are now the head of your own company. That means you'll have to balance running your business with everything else. You will not be able to handle everything by yourself. It's okay if you need help from someone else. It's expected.
You can delegate tasks that don't require special knowledge or training, such as answering phone calls or taking out the trash at the reception. Still, there are some things only you can do because they involve special skills and experience that only come from doing them before.
For example, setting up marketing campaigns requires understanding how different channels work together for maximum effectiveness; updating website content requires knowing what keywords people search for when looking for information on a particular topic; creating invoices requires basic knowledge about accounting software programs like QuickBooks Pro.
Related: Having A Work-Life Balance is Nonsense. To Reach Your Goals, Follow Another Approach
Misconception 4: Everyone on your team will work as you do.
When you are starting a business, there will be times when things get complicated. The longer you have been in business, the more complex the challenges can become. This is just part of the journey; everyone has their own way of dealing with these feelings.
In my experience, though, I have found that rarely anyone will tell me when it's time to stop and go home. And chances are you'll keep working if you haven't set boundaries. No one else should be expected to work as you do. After all, this is your company. You should temper your expectations of yourself with what you expect from an employee — and then act accordingly. If you fail to do this, your expectations will be unrealistic, and ultimately, nobody will want to work with you.
Related: Good Leaders Treat Their Employees Like CEOs. Here's 4 Ways They Do It.
Misconception 5: You must compare yourself to other companies.
You're new in your space. It's important to capitalize on what makes you unique and slowly carve a market share for your product or service. At this stage, comparisons are unproductive and could lead to jealousy or negativity. Instead of comparing yourself to other companies, focus on your goals and how you can achieve them in the most effective way possible. You can learn from others, but don't try copying their success — it's not likely that someone else's approach will work exactly as well for you as it did for them in their industry.
Misconception 6: There's no room for error.
As a founder, it's easy to mount a full load of responsibility on your shoulders. So much more becomes personal when you're an entrepreneur. But remember, everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. If you're not making any mistakes, you're either not trying hard enough or have lost your ability to think creatively and independently — and that's a problem.
Mistakes are part of the process. They tell you what works and what doesn't. They teach valuable lessons about yourself, your product, service, customers and competition — all invaluable information for any entrepreneur building their business.
Misconception 7: Taking a risk is too risky when first starting.
Not making decisions based on risk can mean missing out on significant opportunities. Fear is why many people don't try to start their own business in the first place — or even leave their current job for a new chance. When you can overcome your fears and take calculated risks that match up with your values and goals as an individual or company, you can do more than survive; you might thrive.
When fear enters your mind, remind yourself that it is often a sign that there's something more prominent on the horizon if you choose to overcome it — and if there isn't something bigger on the horizon for you right now, then find it. There are many opportunities out there waiting for those ready to take them on.
Related: Here's What Science Says You Should Do to Achieve Greater Success