Business Survival Series: Misconceptions About Starting a Business
Starting a business can be a mystifying process. It involves overcoming complex and seemingly never-ending challenges that can be frustrating to navigate and sometimes will not lead to a quick return. As such, when considering whether to begin such a difficult undertaking, it is immensely important to clarify some of the ideas surrounding starting a business.
In this article, we will explore the three biggest misconceptions about starting a business and set out what you can really expect when following the path of an entrepreneur.
Misconception 1: ‘I’ll be my own boss and have more freedom’
One of the most prominent misconceptions is that an entrepreneur will become their own boss and thus be free from the constraints of having to answer to others. However, as put by Domenic Aversa in Corporate Undertaker, ‘being an entrepreneur is not about freedom; it is anything but’.
Often people trade in their traditional corporate job for that of an entrepreneur thinking they are leaving behind the days of having a boss, but instead find that they have traded their one boss for hundreds more. Starting a business means you are now accountable to every single person within your company’s sphere including the customers, the suppliers, the creditors and your employees. This wide-ranging accountability brings a significant amount of pressure, all of which will often lie solely on your shoulders, meaning you may experience more pressure as an entrepreneur than you did as an employee at another company. The pressure and accountability of starting your own business will in turn likely limit your chances of obtaining more freedom.
Misconception 2: ‘I can just follow a simple formula’
Put most simply, there is no simple formula for a successful business. If there was, 100% of businesses would succeed. There is no simple formula because any potential formula will be completely dependent on the market in which the business operates, the customers it serves and the scale at which it operates. Further, any potential formula will never be entirely set in stone since the economy can change quickly.
Any good entrepreneur will instead learn to become comfortable within the unavoidable uncertainty of business and embrace having to make constant adjustments to plans and projections.
Adaptability over a rigid plan will ultimately be the key to success.
Misconception 3: ‘If I work hard enough, I will succeed’
There is no doubt that starting a business takes a lot of hard work, and indeed if you are not willing to put in that work, your business will likely not get very far. But unfortunately, simple hard work is not always enough.
Transforming an idea into a viable or even thriving business requires a range of factors. You will need to have decent business acumen to navigate tough situations and achieve good outcomes. You will also generally require a passion for your business that fuels the hard work, sweat and tears that goes into starting a business. You will fundamentally require cash to enable plans to be executed and growth to occur. Finally, you will need a degree of luck to create opportunities and open doors. These are just a few of the necessary factors required to start a business, and thus unfortunately, the reality is that hard work will not always be enough to ensure success.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to continue to work hard, but ensure you are focusing your efforts on the things that are going to give you the best results. Try to be a well-rounded entrepreneur and be understanding of the fact that success is not always guaranteed. If it doesn’t succeed, don’t be too hard on yourself.
So, is it worth starting a business at all?
With the above in mind, the question is whether starting a business is worth it. There is no doubt that being an entrepreneur requires sacrifices and an incredible amount of hard work, but it is often still worth taking the leap.
A study conducted by the Journal of Business Venturing found that even though entrepreneurs face extreme working conditions, they generally have superior wellbeing outcomes than wage employees. Furthermore, entrepreneurs report engaging more meaningfully with their work and feel as though they have more autonomy. This indicates that for most people starting a business, the highs make the lows worthwhile.
Starting a business can also be an exciting new opportunity. Domenic Aversa outlines why we should fight for the vibrancy of new business:
‘The very idea of creating something new, building a team, and sharing your service or product with the community is exciting. It’s a new life force. When done properly, it can build and grow and be part of many different communities. In some instances, it can exist for decades. Just knowing that you can create a living entity that shares your beliefs, values, and ideas with so many different people for so long is very exciting – even exhilarating.’
With these factors in mind, there is certainly cause to start a business. Ultimately, you should be aware of and prepared for the realities of starting a business, but don’t let the unknown stop you from following a worthwhile and fulfilling path.
Take a sensible risk, apply yourself and if it fails act prudently.