The Loch Ness Monster. Unicorns. Bigfoot. The Garage Entrepreneur. We’ve all heard of these mythical creatures. Sometimes they serve to explain the unexplainable. At other times, these figures are used to inspire and motivate. As an entrepreneur, when you hear common startup stories shared, you might want to ask yourself: Is what I’m hearing a myth, or reality? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Let’s look at seven common startup myths:
A great product is all you need.
Some people believe “if you build it, they will come.” While that may have been the case for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, in reality, your customers won’t just appear. You need to be able to successfully market and sell your product, while competing with a number of other products that already exist in the marketplace.
If you are venture-backed, you’ll succeed.
While venture capital is considered to be the holy grail of funding for some companies, it’s not the only option available – and it is by no means a guarantee. Many entrepreneurs actually have better success by funding their business through angel investors, loans and even bootstrapping. Remember, it’s not always the amount of funds you have, it’s what you do with those resources that will drive your business forward.
Passion for your business is all you really need.
Of course passion is necessary as an entrepreneur. You need to be passionate about your product or service – and even more so about the problem you aim to solve. If you aren’t driven, your business won’t get very far. However, passion alone won’t cut it. If you are too in love with your idea, you might overlook its weaknesses or fail to see areas of your business that could be improved.
Entrepreneurship is easy.
For many people, the word “entrepreneur” conjures up the image of someone sitting out by their pool, working on their laptop and having a cool drink. Unfortunately, the reality is far less glamorous. It’s more likely that entrepreneur is working long hours, hardly ever sees the sun and that drink is actually their eighth cup of coffee. Though entrepreneurs may appear to have flexibility, they generally work long hours, well past the traditional concept of the 9 to 5 work day. Chances are good they are operating on a shoe-string budget, not drawing a great salary (or sometimes any salary) and are solely responsible for the success or failure of their business. Being an entrepreneur is not freedom from employment; instead, it is a non-stop job.
Your first idea is your best one.
You’ve got this amazing idea, right? Why would you ever change it? To be honest, sometimes you have to, because your idea just isn’t finding the audience you expected. An alternative is to pivot. For instance, YouTube started out as a video dating site, but when it failed to gain followers, they changed its focus to video sharing.
If you are building something technical, you have to be in Silicon Valley.
While Silicon Valley has been home to many prosperous tech companies, you no longer have to be based in California to be successful. Thanks to advances in technology, innovation can happen anywhere in the United States.
You don’t need to have business acumen if your partner does.
Would you jump in a canoe without a life vest just because your fellow rower knows how to swim? No. So why would you jump into business without knowing anything about it? There is a saying that two heads are better than one, and in business, this is particularly true. Before you start any business, make sure you at least know the basics.
Be aware that sometimes these startup myths appear in the guise of friendly advice. While you can certainly consider the guidance others share, don’t feel compelled to follow all anecdotal “words of wisdom” from well-intentioned advisors. You could gain a false sense of confidence or head down a path that leads someplace you don’t want to be.
For more useful tips on getting your venture started the right way, check out JumpStart’s helpful Entrepreneur Toolkit. And don’t forget to sign up for JumpStart for Entrepreneurs, our monthly newsletter giving you more helpful advice along with local success stories and lists of local funding/networking opportunities.