Recently, I conducted informal research to discover why some people are wary of starting a business. I asked complete strangers to candidly divulge what they thought about entrepreneurship. As you know, there are plenty of crazy things people say to entrepreneurs. But the following assumptions are often fueled by a measure of perceived legitimacy.
Yet no matter how many times you’ve heard them, these five myths are misleading at best:
1. Some entrepreneurs are just luckier than others.
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” (Thomas Jefferson) But hard work is not enough; you must venture to intentionally work smarter. The mere fact that you have a vision for your life and your business suggests that you are capable of aligning the resources, processes and action to make it a reality. What you do with what you have – is up to you, and you alone.
In observation and application, luck is symptomatic of root issues: the recognition of opportunities and or the potential to make them if they do not exist. Sure, you may not have similar talents, skills or resources that make another person successful, but the reality is you were created with unique gifts and talents that are purposefully your own.
Leverage your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses through the acquisition and application of knowledge. Then you’ll find that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” (Seneca)
2. If you build it they will come.
To an extent this adage is true. But building a product or service is merely the first step. In business, “if you build it—then market it—they will come.” But consider this: “they will come” does not equate to conversion.
Building something that no one knows about can be likened to the philosophical question:”If a tree were to fall on an uninhabited island, would there be any sound?” The answer is no. “Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.”
The same thing could be said regarding the absence of people aware of your products and services. What good is it to build something that no one knows about? This is why marketing is essential: it get’s the word out about what you’ve built. The more purposeful and targeted you become in communicating the value of a product or service (i.e. marketing) the likelihood increases that you will attract ideal customers.
Once you make an audience aware, it’s time to qualify them. Marketing only gets people into the filter. Next, you must ensure that those leads actually want what you’re selling. When you’re marketing to a targeted audience the propensity for conversion is much higher.
So how do you market to a qualified audience? Start with marketing research: customer insights, understand your buyers’ persona (i.e. how and why they make the decision to buy the products, services or solutions that you market), engage with current customers to find out where they play (i.e. where they spend their time) and how to engage them. Don’t just expect people to come because you’ve built something wonderful. Get the word out!
3. Entrepreneurship is all puppies and rainbows.
Just because you are passionate about something, doesn’t mean that it won’t require hard work, self-discipline, dedication, perseverance, resilience and relentlessness to carry it out.
In fact, as Thomas Edison suggests, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Even your passion, what you were born to do, will require work. You will face a number of business challenges. You will encounter huge learning experiences. You will struggle. But this is what makes success so insanely sweet.
So, if by chance you desire puppies and rainbows to fill every waking hour, don’t do anything significant with your life. Remain the same. But if you dare to pursue greatness, entrepreneurship is awesome and the world awaits your genius with bated-breath.
4. Everyone has to love my idea to validate it.
No! Your target audience needs to love your idea to validate it.
Take the proper steps to ensure that the people who matter (i.e. your future customers) support and reinforce your assumptions? Start with customer validation as evidence to back up your theory – business model. The more relevant and qualified feedback you gather, the more this feedback comes from your target market and the more you’re able to integrate these insights into your products and services, the better.
Grandma doesn’t like it? Your friends think you’re not firing on all cylinders? So what! If they are not your target audience, their inputs aren’t highly relevant. At best, they are providing tertiary data to explore once you’ve gathered qualified data from those that your ideas will serve.
Break the bad data habit, learn to love your ideas and validate them correctly. You cannot be all things to all people; it’s an exercise in futility.
5. It costs too much money to start a business.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a trust fund to start a business. In fact, the barriers to startup entry have never been lower. There are plenty of cheap businesses you can start in your spare time, side businesses you can start on your own and creative ways to gain access to capital. But those that have started successful businesses know this one thing to be true: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” (Jim Rohn)
What other entrepreneurship myths should be debunked? Let me know in the comments section below.
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