Myths about Starting a Small Business


When I set out to study and catalog the myths (lies) we have been told about starting a small business, I honestly thought that I would find ten or so. After reading 11 articles on the subject, I was shocked to find 71 topics listed. Apparently, there is a boat load of crappy information running around in this category. No wonder we are confused and discouraged about what to do!

I have trimmed the duplicates, combined a few items, and removed the myths that cater to large enterprises in order to keep the list smaller and focused on the those who are starting a small business. Keep that in mind as you read through the list. This isn’t about creating and launching Apple or Facebook or Uber. It’s about starting something small on your own that will probably change as you get into it.

Since the words that we ingest matter, I am going to state the myth and then restate the corresponding truth. Read the whole table for understanding. Then read the right-hand column by itself to affirm your ability to start your own small business.

Myth vs. Reality

Myth (Lie) Reality (Truth)
Find money Lots of people bootstrap their business.
You must be technical You can learn the technology needed.
Find a unique idea and keep secrets Talk with people you trust and you may find partners and customers. Ideas are not usually unique.
Prepare an exit strategy Focus on building a great product and serving customers.
Quit if you fail Learn from failure and start again smarter. Lots of founders fail before they succeed.
Build it and they will come A real business has marketing, sales, product development, relationships, etc.
Work 24/7 and do everything yourself Delegate. Stop working when you become unproductive. Rest to avoid burnout.
Know what you’re doing Believe there is something that needs building. You’ll figure out what it is as you go.
Create a full business plan Outline what you’re going to do and how you plan to measure it. A few pages of clarity is enough to start.
Start at the right time Start now.
Hire staff Keep overhead low. Stay lean and outsource.
Focus only on the product Plan for marketing too.
Finish the product, then market it Test your idea. Confirm that you have a product that people want.
You’ll be your own boss You answer to your customers
A business is the best road to riches Starting a business is risky. If money is your driver then learn new skills, network and stay promotable.
Take lots of risks Make careful, calculated bets
Rent office space Avoid overhead. Work from home or the coffee shop. Find Coworking spaces are popular for startups.
More features will improve your product Stay simple. Deliver benefits to customers, not features.
Do what you love and money will follow Some passions cannot be monetized.
Go for the largest market Large markets have fierce competition. Pick a niche where you can make a loud noise.
Your business must grow Growth is not the same as improvement. Seek a size that is stable and has a good margin.

Believe in yourself and your ideas. Believe in your passion to provide a great service that people want. Believe the truth… and begin!

Why do people really start a small business? Find out in the classic book The E-Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber.
Image credit: Gabriela Fab

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