5 Myths to Ignore When Creating Your Startup
Every entrepreneur has heard the terrifying warnings: “Eight out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months.” “Startup entrepreneurs have to work 80 hours a week to keep business afloat.” “You need to get venture capital to succeed.”
Actually, the process of creating a startup is much more complicated than a few scary statistics. The Small Business Administration compiled data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that almost half of new startups survive beyond four years. Of the businesses that did shut down, one-third of those were financially successful when they closed their doors.
I know from experience that creating your startup business is tough, grueling work. It’s always harder than it looks, and it takes real dedication. It’s hard to believe that years ago, my business (then called Outdoor Innovations) was built by making all our custom gear by hand.
But we kept trying, and we ignored the scary statistics. Over the years, our business model became refined. We grew more efficient, more streamlined, and we got online. Enter MyLocker.net, and now we host over 110,000 custom online shops for schools, teams and leagues, all operated out of our amazing Detroit office.
So the next time you tell someone you’re an entrepreneur and they raise their eyebrows skeptically, free to ignore these five startup myths they might recite to you.
“Your business idea has to be 100% unique.”
The unglamorous truth about entrepreneurship is that there are very few wholly original ideas in business. What makes business exciting and challenging is how you must provide your product or service in a way that differentiates you from the competition.
If you are one of twenty coffee shops in your city, your java doesn’t have to be made from a new, unheard-of coffee bean to succeed. If you offer the speediest and friendliest customer service in town, that could be just the edge you need over your competitors.
“Your product should speak for itself.”
One of the most dangerous myths about startup marketing is that posting on social media is an inexpensive replacement for actual marketing, and that it should be ‘enough’ to get your product out there.
MyLocker.net gets a ton of referral traffic from existing customers who share their custom gear to our Facebook and Twitter feeds. User-generated content is what makes social media an effective outlet, but you have to get the ball rolling by investing in those relationships with your customers.
“You need investors to really succeed.”
This is the myth that we see the most in popular media. A scrappy entrepreneur is ‘discovered’ by a kindly benefactor, and business booms. In truth, only a very small subset of startups ever has investors behind them.
Some entrepreneurs are lucky enough to have family members or friends willing to help, but most individuals pull from their own resources. Even if you do get an offer from an investor, make sure you don’t jump into business with the wrong people – an incompatible relationship could tank your company.
“Your company must always grow.”
This ever-popular myth expects startups to behave like sharks: If they stop moving, they’ll die. However, growth isn’t always the right goal for your company. Maybe your business operates better with a set number of employees. Your business’ size must be sustainable with your goals, or you can risk losing control over the entire operation.
Growth of size does not equal improvement. MyLocker.net outgrew two office locations until we found a happy balance in our current Detroit warehouse. We grew to the right size, and now we can focus on improving our business model in innovative ways that go beyond size.
“Failing means you aren’t cut out for entrepreneurship.”
Today’s entrepreneurship culture is more failure-friendly than ever before. That’s not to say failure stings any less – you still need to learn from your mistakes and come at the problem from a new angle. But according to two economists from The University of Michigan and Stanford, failed entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed their second time around.
If anything, a failed entrepreneur has more experience than a new entrepreneur does, and knowing which mistakes to avoid will help you get further each time.