Often times, subscribing to the myths about starting a business can mess it up before you even start. A huge gap between expectations and reality can ensure that your latest and greatest business idea never realizes its full potential.
You know all of those keys to success you’ve been holding onto. Well, here’s a look at five you can give back. Trust me. They don’t open any doors. But here’s a look at five debunked myths that will.
Myth #1: Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is only potential power. Once you have access to information, what will you do with it? As leadership advisor Robin Sharma has said, “For the power to be manifested, it must be applied.”
Napoleon Hill, in his critically acclaimed book, “Think and Grow Rich” (with over 70 million copies sold worldwide) suggests, “Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.”
Given everything you know about business so far, how have you executed on it and to what end?
Myth #2: If You Build It, They Will Come
“My idea is so good, I don’t need to market it … My widget sells itself!”
Experienced and proven entrepreneurs have determined—that’s a lie.
Think of your favorite movie, or a summer blockbuster hit. What you may not know is what they spent after they built that masterful, edge of your seat thriller.
“Marketing makes up a huge chunk of modern movie budgets — $35.9 million on average,” according to reports. “When calculating a marketing budget, the rule of thumb is to spend 50 percent of … the production costs (Source: Vogel). So if a movie costs $100 million to make, you’ll need an additional $50 million to sell it.”
There’s no way around it. Your goal is to land a handful of deals that validate your value proposition and sales road map. This will require marketing and a plan. KISSMetrics contributor, Michael Epstein explains, “The expectation of your business going viral, or even a slight reliance on that happening, is simply not a marketing plan.”
Myth #3: Do What You Love
It’s a popular adage; and I agree — to an extent. Why to an extent? Because attached to that thing you love, unbeknownst to many, are things that you will not love to do. This is why finding your passion is only a part of the equation.
Running a business is not a 24/7 love fest. You’ll need to measure your love with purpose, process and progress. Ultimately, your “why” is personal to you, but it’s not without the commonalities of business ownership.
So, either you’ll a) do what you love or b) create a business that enables you to do what you love. Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank investor and TV personality, took the latter approach and “decided not to turn passion into a career, but to build a career that let him to pursue his passion.” O’Leary explained to Business Insider Australia how once piece of timely advice from his step-father changed his life:
After I finished high school my step-dad George sat me down for the “Talk About My Future,” and asked me “What do you want to do with your life?”
I told him that I was going to be a photographer.
That’s when he told me “To be or not to be?” isn’t the question.
The question is: “What are you willing to do in order to be what you want to be?” It’s not enough to say you want to be a photographer, or an actress, or a writer. You have to want to do all the necessary difficult things that are required to support that goal.
Myth 4: You Need Industry Experience
While it doesn’t hurt to know your trade, a lack of experience is not a non-starter. Andrew Carnegie, a self-made steel tycoon, turned the steel industry on its head. Initially, Carnegie knew nothing of the steel business.
Real estate mogule Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group, had no experience in real estate prior to launching her venture approximately 20 years ago. In 2001, she sold her company for $66 million (New York Magazine).
As Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, has said: “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
Myth #5: Failure is Bad
In the corporate world failure is gawked upon as if it were the eighth deadliest sin. Enter any boardroom and you’ll hear the echoes of “Thou shalt not fail” lingering. But when you take on more risk, you’re exposed to a higher probability of failure. Yet, it’s how you react to failure that will determine your fate.
Do you get back up when you face setbacks? Will you make the hard choices? Can you see past this one moment of truth that whispers, “You’re crazy for doing this!”?
The experience of failing can knock the wind out of you, but it is often a course correcting moment. Let’s face it: speed is useful, only if you’re going in the right direction.
Truth be told, we adapt and grow in business. The very nature of business is iterative. The entrepreneur you were at year one is not the same at year five. Hopefully, along the way, you’ll become a better (and wiser) version of your former startup self.