Entrepreneurs are always hungry for advice and guidance from veterans who have already grown their businesses. There is no shortage of perceived wisdom regularly handed out that all entrepreneurs should take heed of. There are endless books, blog posts and articles, all offering advice to an eager audience.
However, some of these pearls of wisdom need to be challenged, as they don’t always stand up to closer scrutiny. Here, we take a look at five common pieces of advice that all entrepreneurs should ignore.
You need an expensive office in the best part of town to show customers and investors that you’re serious
This advice couldn’t be more wrong. The only one who benefits from an expensive office is the landlord of the building. You’re likely to be tied into a long-term contract with crippling terms, and as the space you’re renting is likely to be small, the cost per square foot will be astronomical.
But more importantly, no one’s impressed with an expensive office. In fact, customers might think that you’re overcharging them if they know they’re funding your vanity project. Investors might question your judgement if you’re wasting money on an extravagant office when the funds could be spent on marketing or developing your product.
You’re always far better off demonstrating restraint and renting a modest office with flexible terms that won’t break the bank.
A detailed business plan is essential to any startup
Most business plans contain plenty of impressive market analysis and pretty charts showing growth in the first three years of business. They go into enormous detail on how “with market penetration of X,” they can achieve great things.
The only problem here is that business plans aren’t based on reality. In fact, they can be extremely damaging, because they tie fledgling businesses into following a path that may not actually be the most advantageous.
Business plans lack the flexibility to allow startups to adapt to market conditions or pivot their business as necessary as they grow. Startups are far better off having a flexible and concise business plan that allows them to change their strategy, or throw the whole thing away and start again, if necessary.
Your website is the face of your business and needs to have a high level of design
Your website is indeed important and should make a positive impression, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to cost a fortune. There are thousands of excellent web templates that can be adapted and remodeled, and choosing this route is no longer an unprofessional or cheap option.
It doesn’t mean you have to use bad stock images or outdated layouts. Using a template leaves you in complete control, allowing you to make changes and update your site without the need to go back to your web designer for costly edits.
This is not about cutting corners; it’s about spending your budget wisely. Your time will be better spent making sure that your website provides clearly laid out information and has a simple, logical and well thought through navigation structure.
Build it and they will come
This phrase originates from the 1989 baseball film starring Kevin Costner, “Field of Dreams.” The film’s theme is about striving to meet your heroes, in this case by building a new stadium to tempt the baseball heroes to play in it. How it became synonymous with the notion that if you build something great, then customers will magically find it and start using it, is anyone’s guess.
This idea is a dangerous one for startups because it supports the ethos that you could ignore any sort of inbound or outbound marketing with success. The phrase implies that your business will magically market itself simply by providing a good product or service.
If only entrepreneurship were that simple! This piece of advice is definitely one to ignore.
Your product or service needs to be unique
For some reason, we’ve become hung up on the idea that startups need to offer something completely new that has never been seen before; an exciting product or service that’s going to change the world.
Why? What’s wrong with picking an existing market and becoming another successful player in it? This approach has the advantage of the knowledge that there is an existing demand for the product or service.
You do, of course, need to have a strong USP (unique selling proposition) and offer a tangible point of difference to your competitors, but you don’t need to invent a whole new sector. A more modest approach is far less likely to end in failure.