The Small Business Administration estimates there are 31.7 million small businesses in the United States.
Each year, people start tens of thousands of new companies. However, nearly as many companies fail each year.
Businesses fail for different reasons. One common reason small businesses fail is that the expectations of small business owners don’t reflect reality.
Whether starting a business or growing an existing business, you must become an expert in separating truth from fiction. In fact, your ability to ignore misconceptions will help you focus on what’s most important to build a successful business brand.
Here are the eight most common misconceptions about owning a business and what you can do to overcome them.
Misconception #1: You can set your own hours
Many people start their own business thinking they’ll have more freedom to choose what hours they work. While this is somewhat true, you also still have to work within certain parameters for most industries.
For example, if you offer a dog walking service, most of your clients will need their dogs walked while they are at work during the day. Offering evening dog walking wouldn’t work well.
You are reliant on your clients and their schedules. A night owl may create products in the wee hours but will still need to set up displays when most people pass by.
You can choose to work full or part-time, but if you want your business to thrive, you may need to add more hours or additional employees to cover demand. You can only set your own hours within parameters that work to bring you success.
Misconception #2: Office supplies are cheap
You may use far more printer ink, paper, and stamps than you ever expected. Of course, some businesses are almost fully digital, but you may still need to mail an invoice to clients or send out a marketing mailer.
Even if you infrequently print items, you may run into costly issues you never expected. For example, you might be surprised by how often ink cartridges dry up. Take time to research any problem you run into, so you can save money over the long haul and learn from your mistakes.
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Misconception #3: You can ditch the boss
Doesn’t it sound wonderful? You might dream of the day you have no one else to answer to and are in charge of yourself.
Unfortunately, reality often doesn’t match your dreams.
You’ll have customers who you must appease, or they will take their business elsewhere. You’ll also be in the role of the boss, which can be a difficult position when employees aren’t pulling their own weight.
Someone has to lead. Now, it will be you.
Misconception #4: Take as many vacations as you want
Americans are workaholics. You may be fed up with how hard it is to take paid time off at your current job. However, entrepreneurs often find it even more difficult to get away and leave the stress of work behind. There’s far more at stake if your business fails while you’re away.
Forbes looked at several studies on business owners and vacation time and found most workers have canceled or postponed vacation time, and another 26% never take two weeks off at a time.
The results can be catastrophic to your health.
It would be best if you learned to unplug while away. Find someone you trust implicitly to run your business and let them be the capable leader you know them to be while you enjoy some rest. You’ll come back to your business more refreshed and ready to embrace creative solutions.
Misconception #5: You’ll make more money
You probably will more than replace your income by running your own successful company—with time.
It’s doubtful you’ll make a profit in the initial months of your business opening its doors. It takes quite a while to see a profit. You’ll also have to reinvest some of your revenue into marketing if you want to continue growing.
Make sure you have enough savings to see you through the early stages of a new business. When things go well, set some aside for leaner times. Be a good financial manager, and you will eventually make more money than you expected.
Misconception #6: Solopreneurs have less stress
You may think you can go solo without help. Such an approach may work at first, but you’ll still need to hire contractors to do things you can’t do. Perhaps you need a new logo design for your company, or you aren’t sure how to market your new business digitally. Maybe you need help putting together a business plan for your business.
Nearly every successful business owner got help along the way as they built their business.
As your company grows, you’ll find things you can delegate to a worker and free up more time to seek revenue streams or find new customers. Adding employees into the mix naturally brings more stress to your life.
Your best approach is to hire only when necessary, seek help when needed, and learn techniques to cope with the stresses any business owner experiences.
Misconception #7: You’ll love your work
You may love the actual service you provide, but it’s unlikely you’ll adore every aspect of running a small business. For example, if you love painting and open a small gallery, you’ll find a lot of the work requires organizing and sales.
One way to ensure you continue to feel the same passion as when you started your business is to farm out the things you aren’t good at, such as bookkeeping or sales. Still, you’ll need to keep an eye on your workers or contractors and ensure they’re doing things that reflect positively on your brand.
Misconception #8: You can’t learn business skills
Some people think successful business owners have a set of unique personality characteristics. With more than 31.7 million small businesses in the United States alone, you’ll find a wide range of skills and attitudes.
You absolutely can shore up your weaknesses and learn new strengths.
Take classes through your local community college or via online classrooms. Join your local chamber of commerce to interact with other business owners and learn from their experiences. Seek a mentor who has navigated running a company and can offer advice.
Embrace the journey
Running a small business isn’t an easy task. You’ll have days where you want to quit. Perhaps you had a few of the listed misconceptions about owning a business.
Knowing what to expect and how to navigate potential issues helps you find success even during hard times.
Learn to ask for help when you need it and embrace the journey.
Even challenges should be looked at as learning opportunities to help you improve your service and come out stronger. Throw out all your preconceived notions and enjoy the journey toward success as an entrepreneur.
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