Most entrepreneurs talk about how great is to start your own business, and that’s why so many people decides to start a business and then they find it is not what they thought starting a business should be. I’ve started 3 business and invested in another 7 startups, and I love to start new ventures, but the reality is that starting your own business is harder than the average people think it is.
Through the years, I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, and I’d like to write what I think are the top 5 myths about starting a business:
A Good Idea Is The Key to Success
Wrong! Most entrepreneurs (including myself) are passionate people that when starting a business are devoted to their idea. But there exist thousands of good ideas, and what makes the difference is the execution of the project based on that idea. In fact, most successful business are not based on a great idea, but covers what a good company should cover: they solve a problem, in a way that really helps people, and their management team has executed a good plan to achieve their main goals. For instance, Facebook was not the first Social Network, and as an idea, it was not better than any previous social network. And Twitter wasn’t the first “Twitter”, Google wasn’t the first search engine for the web, the iPad wasn’t the first tablet (not to mention that the iPhone wasn’t the first tactile smartphone), etc.
So don’t you think that a good idea will make you rich, but also don’t be afraid to start a business (if you wan’t to start that business) if you have a mediocre idea or an idea that initially isn’t something very innovative. It’s better to focus on how to turn that idea into an usable product, and how to market that product in order to get the consumer’s attention.
And if you’re still considering that a good idea is key to success, you should watch to some of the strongest sectors nowadays: eCommerce. The idea behind an eCommerce is pretty simple and is not innovative at all: put a products catalog online and try to sell those products. You can innovate on how to show those products, in how to market your users, etc. But in the end, you will be starting a business very similar to thousands of other online business. And that’s not bad, in fact if there exist similar business already in the market, it means that you are covering an actual business, and you need to focus on executing the idea better than the competitors.
You Will Be Your Own Boss
This is one of the biggest fallacies of building a business. I’ve worked for big companies, in a University, in Institutes, for small companies… but I have never had so many bosses as when I have started my own business:
When you start your own company, your first “bosses” are your customers, as you need to cover their expectations and you need their money to run your business. You shouldn’t develop your product as you think it should be, but as your customers say it should be. A key to any company is to be user/customer centric, so if you don’t consider that your customers are, in some way, your bosses, you’d probably fail.
And your employees would also become your bosses, as you need an awesome team and if you have completed an awesome team, it’s hard to find a good replacement to anyone of your team. And you can continue adding ‘bosses’: your investors, core partners, key providers, etc. You will receive pressures from a lot of people, and probably you’ll miss to have a boss that let you focus on your tasks and main goals.
You Will Do What You Like Most
Really? As you may become ‘your own boss’, you will start managing people, and maybe management is not what you want to do. I’ve always been happy as a developer, and I really miss the time when I could spend several days coding awesome features or improving processes. But nowadays I have to manage teams, I have to talk to customers and potential customers and sometimes I have to give bad news, or even to fire people.
It’s not what I thought it was when I started my own company, but I don’t complain about it. In fact I’m really happy to learn to manage all these new thing I have to manage, I develop new skills, I love to try to understand what our customers want and need, and I’ve learn a lot about a lot of things, which makes me think that if I had to start my business again, I’d do a lot of things in a different ways, and also wouldn’t do a lot of things that I did in the past or wouldn’t worry about things that I can see now were not relevant in some moments. So I’m happy to be doing what I do now, but I also know that I’m not the average people, I’ve always been a ‘full-stack worker’ in whatever task I’ve done (development and marketing, mainly), and I like to learn new things and get in front of new challenges. And a lot of people prefer to stay in the comfort zone, and continue doing what they do best.
So if you start a business thinking that you’ll be doing what you like most, think about it, and question if it’s better for you to find a job where you can continue doing whatever you want to do, or if you are ready to start a business and become a CWO (Chief Whatever Officer), which means that in the beginnings you’ll be doing whatever is important to your company and you have no employee qualified to do, and when the company grows, you’ll be managing people and loosing to code awesome features or make beautiful designs for your app or whatever you love to do.
You Will Have Time For Yourself
The first time I heard a person that he hated his job because he worked so many hours and he wanted to start a company in order to have enough time for himself, I couldn’t avoid to laugh. I’m always looking to have more time for doing sports, and for relaxing a little bit, but the reality of an entrepreneur is that you are always looking ways to improve or to optimize critical processes for your company, so it’s harder for you to have time for yourself, compared to being an employee.
In fact, I think that if you start a business and you really start to have more time for yourself, something is wrong (or you had a really horrible job) because it’s hard for me to understand that if you’re more committed to your work, you can dedicate fewer hours to it.
You Will Become Rich
In fact if you calculate the odds, I think it’s even easier to become rich with the lottery than starting a business. Every week, a lot of people from around the globe win million dollars gambling, but only a few entrepreneurs per year makes several million dollars selling their companies.
In fact, to start your own business, you’ll need to invest your money. Probably, you won’t have a salary during the first months, and maybe you’ll convince your family to invest in your company. If your company fails (and that’s most probable), you’ll loose a lot of money (what you and your family invested), and you’ll be loosing the opportunity to earn more money in any other company. So when you start a company, it’s normal that you want to make money selling the company, but you also have to think if you want to be managing a company that won’t make you rich (but maybe can pay the bills).