Myths are the cobweb that traps entrepreneurs. Some of the entrepreneurs think of a startup as a way to attain financial freedom. Many aspire for flexible working hours and creating a cool work culture as per their philosophy. Also, it is quite common for entrepreneurs to aim for a dream start and get into minting profit from the first quarter itself.
Misled by misconceptions, many founders are on a hunt for co-founders and investors based on what they read and see in news and magazines.
Being an entrepreneur myself, I would say “Life as an entrepreneur is not as swanky as it may seem from the outside”.
Dreams are about an ideal situation – Reality is very different! My first-hand experience has debunked a few of my misconceptions. The most basic of all are myths surrounding the registration of a private limited company. It is best to burst some legal myths gives them the right to be called an entrepreneur. But, that is just the first legal step. Starting up takes more than that! Starting a new business invites a roller-coaster ride that involves emotional, physical and even spiritual fatigue. Start by breaking the myths one after the other which demands resilience, courage, and faith in oneself and calculated risk-taking.
Take the first step and move beyond the obvious misconceptions associated with startups!
Here are the five great startup myths debunked thru experience.
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Myth 1 – Entrepreneurs have to be Jack of all trades
The only constant in an entrepreneurs’ life is the state of learning. They thrive on pushing their boundaries to keep on improving and creating. But, does this mean that founders need to learn and know everything? Do they need to be a Jack of all trades? Learning is pervasive, so does this require entrepreneurs to learn everything from coding to marketing?
The answer is – No! They do not need to know it all, but should always be open to learning. The ‘will to learn’ is more important than the ‘knowing’ part. So, even if the founders are underqualified, they thrive on their ability to learn and grasp new things swiftly by altering their mindset. Consider how being new and relatively naïve can be an asset in the world that is constantly evolving!
Being a successful entrepreneur needs innovation which comes from openness to learning. They do not need to start by knowing everything – because it’s not what you know that counts but how fast you can adapt, learn and improvise.
Myth 2 – Startup is the route to your freedom!
Let go of the idea of experiencing the freedom to choose and utilize your time. This is far from possible as you venture out for a new business. Perhaps, entrepreneurs will see themselves working more to the extent of overtime during the initial years of starting up. They may get the flexibility to decide when and where to work from. But that too shall diminish when business demands that they stay available and work in sync with the team.
Startups will indeed demand more hours than a normal day job. For employees to stay motivated, the founders to have to be present around them, showing an equal amount of commitment.
Financial freedom, too, is a distant dream as founders rely on the company’s success to turn their fortunes. On the contrary, they stand responsible for all the overheads including salary payments and operational expenses. Chances of getting the money for oneself may look bleak during the initial days of starting a business. Starting up is, therefore, more than what it is perceived with plenty of other things no one told you about startups.
Myth 3 – CEO’s personality matters
Think about Groupon and recollect if Andrew Mason’s personality mattered for the brand. Or even you can consider the hassles that American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch and Lululemon avoided by not putting up the CEOs personalities in front. Let’s face it; customers are not concerned about the CEO who keeps quiet.
Moreover, investors too prefer a CEO who is smart enough to handle the business and rest, stays out of the picture. It is not the CEO’s job to be a media darling. That’s not something that matters to drive sales and grow revenue. Most of the startup founders think of getting the limelight to draw recognition to the firm. This may help to gain some limited traction but it won’t last long if the product/services do not match up to the users’ expectations.
Myth 4 – Startups need a big budget
No! This is the biggest myth to debunk since a million-dollar or venture capital isn’t the startup perquisite. As Hootsuite’s co-founder Ryan Holmes advocates, go for bootstrap when in doubt. One of the best ways to start a business is by using personal resources. Instead of convincing investors about the idea, convince yourself and start investing yourself in it. There are a plethora of opportunities and possibilities beyond bootstrapping.
There are incubators and accelerator programs make way for funding for startups. These are exclusively designed to assist young business. Entrepreneurs may not need to go big when starting a new business and may instead prefer opting for crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter, etc.
Bootstrap startups may use crowdfunding platforms for raising capital thru family, friends, and individual investors via social media. And there are other options for short term finances like loans and grants. A smart entrepreneur is easily convinced that a startup is not a billion buck business.
There is no way to extensively replace good old’ marketing with mere social media. Consider how everyone is on social media, including the competitors. Now that everyone is chattering on social media, finding a unique, distinctive voice for yourself could be a problem.
And this is why startups, to get people’s attention, will need to market itself well. And this marketing should go beyond the social media walls and timelines to reach its right audience. It will require activities around PR, digital advertisements and billboards and also influential marketing. Test everything well to find out the best possible medium to communicate with your prospective users. But, as a startup, never try replacing the core marketing with social media to catch up with the trends.
While I have tried my best to present the reality, some entrepreneurs might have their versions of truth out there. But bursting the myths surrounding startups is the best way to get started and set the right expectations, to begin with.