This post is focusing on the FOUR biggest myths we tell ourselves when we start out in business that can stop us making progress and allow why-am-I-bothering doubts to creep in. Are any of these holding you back?
Myth 1: ‘I need capital to start’
This might have been true 10 or 20 years ago, but advances in digital technology mean that businesses can now be set up and start selling in a matter of hours, with zero investment or overheads required, and run literally from a smartphone. If you can spare £100 or so to pay for website hosting or get a logo designed, great. But in reality you can do the majority of what you need for little or no investment, so a lack of capital should never put you off starting out.
In fact I’d challenge anybody setting up in business, even those with access to a bit of spare cash to invest upfront, to try and figure out first what they can do on a shoestring. Not only will it make you more careful when you do start investing in growing your business or upscaling operations, but it might prevent you making costly mistakes going into a line of work you find you don’t enjoy, or there isn’t the audience for.
Think of starting out as market research in action – you are testing the waters, establishing demand, building a following. All of these things can be done without capital!
Even if you have plans for a bricks and mortar business – a cafe, for example – you can still try and find a way to test-run it first, maybe as a pop-up at events like festivals, or a trail stand at a local foodie market, with minimal set up costs and no overheads.
Ask yourself – what can you do today that doesn’t require any outlay, but would help move your business forward, even just a small step?
Myth 2: ‘I must be an expert’
This ones a bit different. Yes, you actually do need to be an expert – but not in what you might think. You don’t need to be an expert in web design, or wordpress, financial management, or sales. As long as you are an expert in your niche AND one step ahead of your market, you can solve their problems and sell to them successfully. You simply need to ensure you are clear on your strengths and weaknesses and tailor your support team accordingly.
Are you clear on your area of expertise? Make sure you take time to identify both your strengths and weaknesses.
Myth 3: ‘I need a unique idea / to invent a widget’
Someone wise (not me!) once said ‘there is no such thing as a new idea’. And it’s very true! So many successful businesses out there are all basically doing a very similar thing. They just have slight degrees of separation that make them stand apart – they have tweaked their delivery, or the brand values, or how they connect with consumers.
Just because someone else is already out there doing that thing you do, doesn’t mean there isn’t room to join them. If anything, it proves there’s a demand for it! So don’t be put off when you google ‘nursery interiors stylist’ and discover there are 101 Instagrammers already out there styling up a storm creating fabulous nurseries left right and centre – instead concentrate on what you have that sets you apart, and focus on that.
Maybe in your biz you would source only sustainable, eco-friendly materials. Or you might specialise in designs for twin’s rooms. Or you show parents how to use Ikea hacks to create bespoke, inventive pieces of furniture on a budget. Whatever it is, you will have a unique selling point (USP) – concentrate on finding and maximising that, not the fact that there is competition out there already. What is your USP?
Myth 4: ‘I have to write a business plan’
Nope, you don’t. Simple as that. You might want a plan – but that’s different to needing one. You don’t need one before you can start. No customer or client ever said ‘yeah sure, I’d like to buy that…but wait, can I just see your business plan first?!’.
Needing a business plan is an outdated idea from when the main route to starting a business was getting a loan from the bank. These days business plans are most commonly used when businesses want to report to stakeholders, or attract major investment. Startup business plans are often best sketched out on the back of a napkin/envelope – and then got on with! They will change SO much as you progress away (believe me) that having a plan that it takes ages to write and refine is pretty pointless, as your plans need to flexible as possible.
I am an advocate instead of setting SMART goals and really clear, tangible milestones that act as markers of your progress along the way, so you can keep a track of where you are up to easily and adapt your approach as required. It’s just a more modern take on a traditional business plan.
Are you clear on your goals? Make sure you are, and that you write them down – that’s the only bit of planning that I would say is always essential!!
So my advice is to stop worrying, get yourself out of analysis paralysis by overthinking everything, and just START – and see where it takes you. What’s the worst that could happen?!
I’d love to hear what you think – which of these myths have stopped you before? Are there any other worries that hold you back?