Dragons and MBA: 5 Myths About Starting Your Own Business
Words: Jennifer L. Jacobson for TrustLeaf.com
Don't let these common myths about starting a business hold you back.
Starting a business or bringing a new product to market is no easy task, yet it’s a dream that many of us have. Whether you’re planning to start a taco truck, create an e-commerce site for hand-knitted alpaca stockings, or open a sports bar, something is holding you back. Here are five of the most common reasons you haven’t started your small business yet.
Myth 1: You Need a Dragon-Sized Pile of Cash
How much money would be “enough” to start creating your new business? Five, or maybe $10,000? One (raise pinky with evil smile) million dollars? Not only is your answer probably pessimistically high, but it’s missing the point.
You don’t need to have a pile of money saved up in your basement. Bank loans aren’t usually available this early on, but friends and family loans are. Worried about the awkwardness of asking your IRL friends and family for cash? Worried they’ll laugh at your business idea? Worried they’ll mention it at Thanksgiving? Good. That’s called motivation and accountability. Gather your thoughts, put your plan into writing, and start asking.
Myth 2: There’s Never Enough Time
This is a lie and you know it. Not only can you start your business with just five to eight hours a week on the side, but that’s ideally how you should do it. Ease yourself into your new business venture. This allows for less pressure and more flexibility in developing your ideas. It also helps you gain marketplace traction and interest before you launch. Never underestimate the power of a loyal, early following on social media even before your business is officially a reality.
Myth 3: You’re Not Business-Savvy Enough
First of all, what does that even mean? You didn’t go to business school? Neither did nine out of 10 of the successful entrepreneurs you could probably name. Many didn’t even graduate college (insert obligatory Steve Jobs reference here).
If you need to get a certification to fulfill your dream, then do some research first. If you just “want to know more,” there are lots of modern ways to learn about specific fields of interest:
Take a look, it’s in a book. From libraries to Audible, there are lots of books out there.
Find some good blogs or podcasts on the subject, subscribe, and consistently follow.
Take an online class at a site like Udemy.
Use Facebook or LinkedIn to find someone you know who is an expert at it, and buy them coffee.
Still concerned about not having an MBA? Check out The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman.
Myth 4: You’re Not a Technical Sorcerer
How many new entrepreneurs out there actually know HTML? How many small-business owners know what CSS stands for? How many of them can conjure beautiful e-commerce websites that automatically update pricing and keywords across categories with integrated checkout that connects to Quickbooks and farts unicorns and rainbows? Not many.
Tech is not a barrier to getting your business started. Nail down your business idea and get your product and service out there. Build your tech as you grow. There are lots of WordPress templates you can use and useful resources for dabbling in things like social media.
(Author’s note: My book, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business, lays out some basic ground rules to get you started.)
Myth 5: It Has to be Perfect Before You Even Start
When it comes to starting a new business, the best model for success is to launch, test, and pivot. This means being flexible and willing to capitalize on changes in the market. If you open a breakfast bar, but it’s busier at lunch, change your hours. If you open a dog walking service, but people also want grooming and training classes, modify your offerings.
Perfection is a fine goal, but no business is perfect, so don’t hold yourself to such a fine standard. Sometimes 90% is good enough. Sometimes 80% is good enough. New businesses generally don’t have large teams and years of time to “start making money”—they need to launch and test, and launch and test, time after time.
Don’t let perfection stand in your way. Mistakes are nature’s way of telling you you tried. Now get out there and be great. No one else is going to build your dream business but you.
A version of this article appeared on TrustLeaf.com.
TrustLeaf is an online service that helps self-started businesses and entrepreneurs get starter loans from friends and family, without straining their relationships. Because loaning money to friends and family for new ventures can be tough on relationships, TrustLeaf formalizes personal loan agreements, keeping money far away from affecting relationships, so entrepreneurs can get their business going and friends and family can feel more secure.
About the Author
Jennifer L. Jacobson is a strategic success advisor to startups, small businesses, and nonprofits. She is a teller of stories and an advocator of causes, driving dialogue about ideas that matter. She is also the author of 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys traveling with her husband, testing consumer electronics, puppetry, and geeking out over forgotten bits of amusement park history.