You’ve done your homework and in theory you ticked all boxes along the way. You came up with a ground-breaking product or service, trashed your bank saving or persuaded family and friends to part with some cash or cleverly got a bank loan, either way, you made your product reality. Then you did a brilliant marketing job with adverts launches and shouted pretty much left, right and centre about it. You applied to lots of business and industry-relevant awards etc. In other terms, you just launched your business. Hurrah! You thought the money will start pouring. But they don’t. Huh…You are thinking ‘What has just happened?!’. You thought just because you came up with this great product, everybody is going to love it, but they don’t. You thought because it was your dream, everybody would buy into your passion and enthusiasm. But they don’t. So, what really happened?!
Chances are that you have fallen into the trap of glorified business start up stories. In this blog post, I have decided to demystify the most common 5 and there are many more.
- ‘I am my own boss’ – Well, you are not, I hate to break it to you. You are most likely to be very flexible with your own time and to have escaped the 9-5 rat race or 12h working day. You might have said goodbye to 100 miles daily commute (like me) but you are likely to have entered a different bossy world. You probably got rid of 1 boss, but now you have 10 or more, all at once. The one where your customers are your top bosses and alongside you’ll get your suppliers, logistics companies, trade show organisers etc., all of whom will dictate your day-to-day routine. Because it is them who will send you orders, deliver your orders on time, agree on discount when you purchase consumables or book your precious trade show stand and so on, you get me now.
- ‘Everybody is my client’ – Wrong! We are all different, we have different hobbies and interests, we live our lives differently, decorate our houses differently, we watch different TV programmes, read different books and magazines etc., and so is your ideal client. You have to spend the time to figure out who is he/she and in order to do so you have to do a simple exercise. It’s pretty similar to when you were back to school and dreamt about your ideal boyfriend/girlfriend. The difference is that now this is your ideal customer. Write a simple list of questions: what age is he/she?; how does he/she look like?; likes/dislikes; what does he/she earn?; job preferences; where does he/she shop? does he/she have disposable income?/holiday destinations etc. etc. Once you have answered those questions, you can start actively searching for your customer and then sell what you have in the bag.
- ‘They will come’ – Once you have found your perfect client you may think ‘I have my product or service, they are coming and I can roll for some years now’ – Wrong again. This is just the beginning, your first step. You may fly for one or two years, but inevitably the things will stall. Why?! Because the marketplace has this insane need to look for the next big thing, to offer the most exciting new product or service to its customers. This need is almost overwhelming for any newbie in business. So, you can’t rely on what you have. You have to evolve constantly and you have to market your product or service, every single day as even the ones who come may not come back.
- ‘The first 2-3 years are the hardest’ – Whatever your time frame to success was – just triple it! While it is true that once you go beyond the two years things would improve and might take off. Unfortunately, they may not take off big time. You may have been really confident of doing something different but the path to world domination may not be quick or may never happen. It is true that some rare gems exist and some innovative products fly even in mature industries. There are some relatively young industries like technology, for example where the overnight success is possible but majority of start-ups simply take a slow and long path to establish themselves on the market place. The reality is, it is probably much longer and slower than you ever imagined! Throw in the mix a global economic crisis and your theoretical assumptions may have hit a very rocky road along the way.
- ‘Doing it for the love of it’ – You have to get real really quickly. You are likely to spend about 30% of your time (if you’re lucky) doing what you wanted to do in the first place: designing, writing, baking, making or generally the stuff you love and which gave you the idea in the first place. The rest of the time you will be wearing so many hats, that are impossible to list in a short sentence. You will be doing admin, selling, marketing, following trends, competitors, book keeping, accounting, chasing payment and answering loads and loads of emails! Get real – the fun stuff always comes second I hate to tell you…unless you have rich parents financing your ‘love’…but then we would call that a hobby, not a business.
So, these are the 5 common misconceptions about starting your own business. It is good to know what to expect and be prepared as then it is less likely that reality will brutally crash your dreams. Hope this read helps you.
Take a deep breath. It is a rollercoaster ride, but is wonderful.