Myths are harmless for most people. They can believe them without any real negative effects. But when a business owner believes a myth, it can cause business failure or stagnation.
I’ll use myself as an example. As a CPA who had assisted many business owners before starting my own business, I thought I knew exactly what was required to open and run a business. I could not have been more wrong!
This brings us to the number one myth that new business owners fool themselves with when they first start out:
Myth: I know what it takes to run a business because I have studied other business owners and have done my research.
The truth: The responsibilities, pressures, and demands of running a business can only be understood by those who have actually started and owned a business. Much like getting married, becoming a parent, or learning to drive a car; there is no single course, book, or experience that will prepare you for the experience of being a business owner. Expect to be challenged and pushed to your limits almost daily.
Unfortunately, this is only one of the many myths stopping business owners from growing the businesses of their dreams. Every day I speak to business owners who are struggling with the hard truths that must be learned to be successful. Here are some of the most common and destructive myths:
Myth: All I need to succeed is a good idea.
The truth: Every business owner thinks they can offer their customers something better than their competition. But there are few truly original ideas. Even Apple's Steve Jobs didn't invent something new when he introduced the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. He saw an opportunity to create a new product by improving or combining existing technologies in a way that the market would love.
Myth: Offer a great product, and customers will beat a path to your door.
The truth: Steve Jobs didn't use the "Field of Dreams" method to market his products. Apple is a master of marketing and sales. Every business owner must understand one thing–every business is a marketing business first! Every business owner must become an expert at sales and marketing.
Myth: Success depends on hard work.
The truth: Yes, you will work hard, harder than you may have ever worked before. Trust me; 40-hour weeks are going to become things of the past. But working hard isn't enough. You have to work on the right things. Start by setting goals and deciding how to reach them.
Myth: I can be my own boss.
The truth: You may be in charge, but you aren't the boss. My name is on the door, but I have hundreds of bosses. Every client is your boss. Even your employees are your bosses sometimes. You might get to decide who you work with, but whatever work you do accept must be delivered in a quality way. That delivery of a quality product or service that the market is willing to pay for is your new boss!
And you can't do it alone if you want to grow. Accordingly, hiring quality employees is essential. It is your responsibility to find the right people, train them well, and give them the tools they require in order to produce the quality products or services the market expects.
Myth: I can set my own salary.
The truth: Most business owners were successful and making good money before they became owners. In fact, it took me almost 12 years to get back to the same level of income I was making at my last job! With a new business, most of the early profits must be re-invested in order for the business to grow. Sure, many business owners make a very comfortable living, but only after they have met a need that the market pays them well for. (Yes, I am repeating myself. It's that important!)
Myth: I will make a profit quickly.
The truth: You will learn that in business, everything takes twice as long and costs three times as much as you expect. Expect the unexpected and plan for it. Always have two or three times the funds you think you will need to start the business, open a new store, or launch a new product.
Myth: I can take more time away from work.
The truth: A new business is like a newborn baby. It needs constant attention. The most successful business owners work many long hours and are always striving to improve their businesses. To be successful you must achieve this single-minded focus on making your business a success.
Myth: I can't compete with the national chains.
The truth: The national chains can't compete with you! You are closer to the customers than the managers of these large chains. You can spot market trends much sooner, and because you don't have the large infrastructure that they have, you can respond much more quickly. Plus, you can build a very good business from the small niches the big chains don't want.
Finally, perhaps the most dangerous myth that almost all new business owners (and even many experienced business owners) fall prey to:
Myth: I know all I need to know about running my business.
The truth: The biggest problem is not what you don't know. Rather, the biggest problem is that you don't know what you don't know. A successful business owner never stops learning. They concentrate on improving all of their business skills. They read books, hire coaches, go to conferences and seminars, and learn from what other business owners are doing right and wrong.
What myths do you believe?
How are they holding you back?