As people want to navigate far from the “corporate jungle” towards the land of supposed “entrepreneurial utopia,” lots of misconceptions arise. Perhaps this has related to the media, the advice they have received, or what’s heard through the grapevine but frequently, these ideas can derail a person from taking the plunge in the start-up world. Or cause them to hop on the entrepreneurial group when they have no organization performing so.
Here will be the five main urban myths I have discovered about entrepreneurship.
If my solution or company is great, I’m going to be successful. Not necessarily.
For me, this is a perplexing (and frustrating) enigma in lots of ways. As someone starting a corporate-training organization, I realized I was great at what I did. I built the erroneous presumption when I was an excellent instructor with great content, I’d similarly be rewarded in the marketplace with plenty of performance and clients. My first few years as a corporate instructor disproved this fable and humbled me at the same time. Sure, I acquired lots of feedback that my workshops were amazing, and I was a great instructor, but that did not automatically translate into new clients and more work. Here certainly are a few reasons:
Providing a good service or product and determining how to promote it are very different animals. I turned out to be a good trainer and significantly less than a mediocre marketer for sure.
Relationships and connections may make a huge difference, particularly in the early stages once you haven’t built a brand yet and need you to give you a break. (Unfortunately, my contacts were few and much between.)
It’s a simple job to overestimate the demand for your services. When I projected potential revenue, I helped to pay attention to what strong my training was and tended to neglect pesky details such as the pending surge of online training (i.e., emerging competitors and shifts in your industry), insufficient access to decision-makers, and economic downturns that could impact client power to pay.
Entrepreneurship can give me back complete control over my schedule.
Well, yes and no. While founders may not need to punch a time clock, they often slave away the initial few years — logging hours that easily surpass those from their “corporate jungle” days.
Yes, many who dove into entrepreneurship are passionate about their mission and love what they do, so extended working hours may be fine for them. But avoid the myth that entrepreneurs don’t have a tight, even strict schedule to create and maintain a successful business. That isn’t the case.
While it’s true entrepreneurs don’t have a “boss” in the original sense, they’re still being held accountable every day — whether it’s to clients, potential clients, partners, and other stakeholders.
While I’ve garnered the ability to have a lot more control over my schedule recently, I still typically schedule key meetings and events around my clients availability.
Never hand out your product or service: It’ll dilute your brand.
Not always true. In the beginning, within an entrepreneurial venture, there may indeed be strategic opportunities for providing product or service pro bono. Sometimes, the value of getting facing your market to showcase your abilities or products can outweigh the opportunity cost of the missed revenue. (There are grounds why major consumer product companies use sampling as a marketing strategy — it works!) Nevertheless, any time you’re providing an item or service free of charge or at cost, you have to be cautious not to have an overall harmful impact on your bottom line.
My advice is to provide them a customized version that truly is just a “sample” to ensure that potential clients don’t devalue your service. For example, if you’re a massage therapist, provide a 15-minute sample session or if you’re an executive coach, offer a preliminary free assessment. Should you go down this sample route, make sure it’s an opportunity for people to acquire a true sense of what they’d be purchasing when they become a paying customer.
In the beginning, I have to get it done all myself.
Maybe, maybe not. If you’re beginning with limited capital, you may need to roll up your sleeves and wear many hats. However, it often becomes more cost-effective to outsource key functions in areas you aren’t specialists in. The function is important to your business success and the expenses to outsource are minimal. Like, knowing your business needs a sophisticated website, it’s risky to anoint yourself your own personal IT director if you can’t spell java, much less use it. If you wouldn’t hire you to complete the task, you probably need to hire someone else. Focus your power in areas where you have particular expertise and require your attention (i.e., defining your offerings and building relationships with clients).
The more clients, the better.
Not really. Again, it’s tempting to battle any client that shows interest in the early stages, but spreading yourself too thin can be risky. I’ve seen young entrepreneurs twist themselves into a pretzel trying to supply different services to different clients because they make an effort to appease everyone and capture as much potential business as possible. The danger is that whenever you don’t clearly define your products or services, you can lose focus and confuse the marketplace on your expertise areas.
Also, let’s face it: All clients aren’t good ones. Some are extremely high maintenance, unrealistic, unreliable, or price hagglers. You want to be selective enough to weed out clients that will be more of a challenge than they’re worth.
Another mistake entrepreneurs make dealing with too many clients too soon. By attempting to juggle too many responsibilities, you can find yourself decreasing your credibility, quality, and overall brand, which may have longer-term consequences.