18 Small Business Myths You Should Avoid [Expert Roundup]Written by Bernard on April 13, 2017
There are so many myths surrounding small business and entrepreneurship that it’s difficult to separate the truth from the fiction.
Often, these myths are passed down from generation to generation without much basis in truth.
That’s why we asked truly successful small business owners about the small business myths they found to be absolutely false.
These myths surround startup finance, marketing and advertisement, product creation, and much more.
Check out the 18 worst small business myths you need to avoid.
Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal
Myth: Every small business needs a mobile app.
Reality: The reality is there are very few businesses that will effectively engage their consumers on a dedicated mobile app.
There’s so much friction involved with educating your consumer-base that you actually have a mobile app, and then them taking action to download it in the store, and then actually log into it and use it .
To make matters more troublesome, add in the reality that mobile app development is so resource intensive that most small business owners will not be able to build a robust enough experience to actually drive consumer engagement.
When I mentor and fellow entrepreneurs I encourage them to focus on their web experience first and nail that before they try to build a mobile app too prematurely.
Focusing on your web experience first for a few years will guide you in your mobile app development and if you even need them overlap in the first place.
Matt Ham, President & Owner of Computer Repair Doctor
Myth: Always have an exit plan.
Reality: A serial entrepreneur may regularly go into their dealings with an exit plan, but for most small business owners this is thinking too far ahead. If you’re going into your business planning your retirement, you’re thinking about all the wrong things.
Focus on the problems in front of you like finding your customers and getting them to try your product/service. Some businesses may benefit from an exit plan on day one, but most don’t.
Myth: You’ll get to set your own schedule.
Reality: Sometimes you can do this, but most of the time your clients and vendors make your schedule. The world has a fairly set schedule, and depending on the industry that you’re in – so do your clients and vendors.
Sure, some vendors will work weekends or respond to your emails at night, but if you need to get things done be ready to embrace the 9-5 communication schedule. And the same thing goes for your clients, they all have a buying schedule.
If you’re in a retail store, be ready to be open retail hours. But even an ecommerce site has to be available to support its customer base. And when you’re company grows large enough that you can hire people to do all those 9-5 tasks for you, then your employees start needing your time.
And guess what—they usually need help between 9am – 5pm.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls
Myth: You can never take vacation or your business will fail.
Reality: For the first 5 years after I started my business I worked all the time. I was scared to go on vacation for fear all my hard work would unravel.
Then my in-laws, father, mom and stepdad all started to get sick and I wanted to be there for them. They all lived thousands of miles away so I started to work less.
After years of decline, seven family members each died about six months apart and I became executrix of many of the estates which is like having another job at times.
So I had to take very good care of myself or I would not have been helpful to anyone else. I started working out every day and planning me time on my calendar. I became more comfortable with white space in my day and stopped over scheduling myself.
And guess what? My business did not suffer; in fact it has become stronger. We moved up the food chain and have better clients. I enjoy my work more now than ever before. I am having more fun. It has truly been a case of something good coming out of something bad.
I no longer try to squeeze in more meetings or hit multiple events at night. Taking vacation and down time is important an necessary to do your best work.
Ammi Borenstein, CEO and Co-Founder of Transitions2earth
Myth: You need to focus on raising money.
Reality: My business partner and I initially financed our business with very small amounts of home equity. By keeping our expenses very conservative and tightly managing inventory we’ve been self-financed from day one.
Myth: Don’t worry about profit at first; just focus on growth.
Reality: By operating with consistent, steady growth we’ve been profitable from day one and continue to be so now. We’ve never operated the business such that expenses ever exceeded gross profit.
By doing so we’ve always had reserve funds to weather changes in the business and the economy.
Bob Shirilla, CEO of Simply Bags
Myth: Entrepreneurs are risk-takers.
Reality: Investing in an idea is not risky. Typically, entrepreneurs are data driven, determined and look at all aspects of a business decision.
According to the SBA, over 50% of small businesses survive the first five years. Entrepreneurs that fail are the extreme risk takers, the successful businesses have a well thought out strategic business plan.
Myth: Entrepreneurs are their own bosses.
Reality: Many “want to be entrepreneurs” are merely trying to get away from the demands of their boss. However, this is not a worthy foundation to start a business.
Their current boss will be replaced by demanding customers, deadlines, and meeting a weekly payroll. A business owner’s new boss will be the business itself.
Cody Clifton, Challenge Coins 4 Less
Myth: Hire all your friends and your company will succeed!
Reality: Hiring the first few employees was incredibly easy for me. I had a wide portfolio of hard working friends from college and previous places I worked that I picked from.
We also happened to all be relatively young, early in our careers, and able to jump at risky opportunities. However, when that available talent pool was exhausted, I didn’t have the structure or the culture in place to ensure the next wave of talent was as good.
So be careful with your hiring, take a lot more time, look at a lot more candidates, check a lot more references and don’t just make a hire out of desperation.
A bad hire is more painful than no hire. A mediocre hire can be the worst, because someone just doing the minimum and taking up space on the org chart and payroll is preventing a good hire from being there for years.
Maany Silva, Founder and CEO of 10BUCKSAROOM.com
Myth: You NEED to pay for advertising when you are starting out.
Reality: We have been in business for over 5 years and never paid for advertising. Sure, Yelp and Angie’s List would love to have us pay for their services, but there really is no need.
We built our brand first and market ourselves as well. We focused on customer service and used a grassroots approach to spread the word about our business.
Even after all this time—and we just sold our first franchise (YAY!)—we STILL don’t pay for advertising. Why waste your precious money in the beginning? If you really need help gaining traction, do everything you can for FREE first in regards to marketing and advertising.
There are a ton of free ways to get the word out about your business and your brand. We just started focusing on our social media presence and have a decent following. We are more concerned with our services and reputation than paying for advertising.
Lori Cheek, Founder of Cheekd
Myth: Building a business means you’ll have overnight success.
Reality: I believed so much in my idea that after our launch, I thought I was going to be a billionaire by the end of the year! Seven years into the entrepreneurial hustle, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you.
It will take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try but if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime.
No matter what, this has been the most rewarding journey of my life. My advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to be brave and follow your instincts. You can’t cheat the grind, but if you give it your all, you can trust that the payoff will be worth it.
Brian Condenanza, Fluo Shoes
Myth: You have to be born an entrepreneur to be successful.
Reality: I think this is one of the biggest myths out there. Personally, I was always interested in starting businesses, but I think that we live in an age where we can do many things in our lifetime.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t a set of skills, but knowing how to connect the dots. You could say that it’s easier than other jobs,where you must know something in particular.
For example, you can be better at marketing than most people, and so you get to create some of the advertising campaigns, and hire someone to do the more technical aspects of your business.
What I’m trying to say is that entrepreneurship is open to everyone, whether you’re creative, technical or anything in between.
Huib Maat, Founder of Pairfum
Myth: If you build it, they will come.
Reality: This was advice I heard before I start my business. I’ve found it to be untrue. While you definitely need a top product or service, that alone isn’t enough to generate customers and growth.
In order to do so, you need to develop a marketing strategy to promote your brand and get your name in front of people who are interested in what you sell. It’s your job to get in front of your customers’ eyes.
Myth: You need a lot of money to get started.
Reality: There is a lot of attention in the media given to startup companies that raise large financing rounds from angel investors and venture capital firms.
However, for the average small business this is not a realistic option. Most companies can get started with minimum upfront costs. Bootstrapping your company is the way to go in the beginning and provides you with extra incentive to generate revenue quickly.
If you do need help with funding, reach out to friends and family before considering taking out a loan.
Myth: You need to build something revolutionary.
Reality: You don’t need to change the world to have a successful business. The key is to focus on solving problems for your customers. If you can make their lives easier, then it’s very likely they will be willing to pay you. Even by making a small incremental improvement on what already exists can be a great way to create a viable business.
Bob Ellis, Founder & Owner of Bavarian Clockworks
Myth: You should be active on all social media channels.
Reality: There are only so many hours in the day, so you really need to focus your efforts in areas that provide the best ROI. Depending on your business and target customer base, it is likely better to pick a few social media sites rather than spreading yourself thin by trying to be everywhere.
Myth: It all comes down to hard work.
Reality: Working hard matters, but luck and timing also play a role. As an entrepreneur there will be things that are outside of your control. You need to be comfortable with this.
Myth: You need to have your business plan ready before you get started.
Reality: You will never be perfectly ready to launch a business. There are always things that need to be fixed or adjusted. The most important part is to get started. The more you delay, the easier it becomes to rationalize and make excuses.
The worst small business myths
These are definitely some long-standing myths that you should work to rule out of your small business.
Which of these myths above are the ones you’ve heard before? Even worse, which ones do you still believe?
Let us know in the comments below.