Welcome to the age of the fake entrepreneur.
From Instagram to Facebook, it’s impossible to go online today without being bombarded with some version of the #Hustle or #GirlBoss mentality.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with welcoming a new era of entrepreneurship, but some of these so-called gurus have it all wrong.
Today, more than half of all Americans either own a small business or work for one. That means small business is big business, and it’s no easy feat to get your “hustle” off the ground.
With so many “influencers” and other startup owners claiming overnight success, the next generation of small business owners needs to learn what’s reality and what’s bogus.
Anyone can be an entrepreneur.
It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something that takes hard work and the ability to learn as you go.
The reality is most new small businesses fail, and you need to be willing to live with that reality. However, it’s not as bleak as many people make it out to be.
About a third of all small businesses started today will still be in business after 10 years. Those aren’t bad odds.
Are you ready to hit the ground running with your small business?
While you shouldn’t fall for the online guru’s get-rich-quick scheme, you also shouldn’t fall for any of these common small business misconceptions below.
Let’s shed some much-needed truth on the reality of owning a small business today.
1. You have to “hustle” to succeed.
This is both true and false.
You’ll need to work hard to get your business off the ground, and that’s no secret. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ditching your 9-5 for your own business will lead to a mini-vacation.
There truly are no real days off in entrepreneurship. You’ll quickly learn you have to be “on” at all hours of the day.
That being said, our emerging culture of always “hustling” is toxic and downright false.
You’ll work long hours. You’ll have fires to put out. Yet, that doesn’t mean you need to run yourself ragged to be successful.
Burn out is a real threat, especially to new business owners. If you don’t take time to care for yourself and rest, you’re not going to make it.
2. You don’t need health insurance.
Health insurance is a big problem for most self-employed people.
Before the Affordable Care Act, it was expensive and complicated to find insurance coverage if you didn’t have a traditional employer. Today, it’s easy thanks to platforms like Healthmarkets and new federal programs.
Not having health insurance means risking your health, your financial future, and your business.
You can’t anticipate how your health will hold up in the next few years. Accidents happen, and they can be catastrophic to your finances.
Taking the time to find the right health insurance for you and any future employees will save you a world of trouble.
3. Being first is best.
Another misconception is that the first company to market is the one that wins.
There are so many examples we can examine in our lives today that show this isn’t true.
For instance, take a TV and movie streaming. While many would argue since Netflix “invented” online streaming subscriptions, it’s the best. However, we’ve seen many competitors like Hulu and Prime Video dominate the market.
Having an innovative product is great, however, improving an existing product can sometimes be more effective.
The first one to market has the added burden of needing to develop and perfect the product, whereas those other players don’t need to develop anything from scratch.
Essentially, don’t think you need to be first if you’re going to succeed. The iPod wasn’t the first mp3 player, but it sure was the most popular.
4. Automation is bad.
We hear this line of thought all of the time. “Automation is bad,” they say. “It’s taking our jobs!” But is it really?
For most small business owners, automation is a must. It’s a way to handle those smaller tasks that used to be drains on energy and resources.
Automating things like email marketing, social media posts, and even income statements is simply a way to focus your time on things that matter most.
There are only so many hours in the day. Don’t think you have to do it all.
Yes, you should take a “human” approach with your customers, but don’t think computer automation has nothing to offer.
Artificial intelligence is changing everything from financial accounting to customer service. There’s no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a human can outperform the computer, especially with some decision-making processes.
Automation was developed with a human-touch in mind. It’s not about replacing jobs or making your business some robotic entity. It’s an effective way to keep up with the demanding day-to-day schedule of owning a small business.
5. You don’t need a business plan.
Business plans aren’t just for fun. They’re an essential part of any healthy business.
Many new small business owners make the mistake of thinking business plans belong to big businesses, and that they don’t need to waste their time thinking through the minuscule details. This is bad news.
Yes, the business landscape changes rapidly. Yes, it’s true your first business plan will likely need to be revised once (or a few times). However, it’s more important to have one now than ever.
You need to know your goals, your objectives, your audience. These things matter in a fast-paced economy.
Luckily, you don’t need to invest in a comprehensive novel-sized plan to get started. Just make sure you flesh things out enough to know what you’re doing.
Where are you in your small business journey? Staring your own entrepreneurial venture is exciting.
This is a new world of opportunity, and it’s just waiting for you to grab on for the ride. But don’t make any of these first-timer mistakes above.
They might not seem big right now, but they’ll cost you later on.
Your health and your plans matter. Make sure they come first. The “exciting” stuff will always be there waiting. Now that you know what you need to do, go out there and get that ball rolling.