More and more people want to leave their job and work for themselves, but they have a lot of erroneous ideas about what that will be like. Let’s go over some of the myths and set them straight. This is not to dissuade you, but instead to help you make a good choice for yourself and your family with your eyes wide open.
In the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. It’s not like 30 years ago where you were limited to selling to people within your geographical area. Nowadays, you can post on social media and reach people on all sides of the globe. The range and earning potential of entrepreneurs has increased exponentially. As more people look to leave their 9-5 jobs and work for themselves, there are quite a few misconceptions about what this new journey will entail.
Today, I hope to address a few of the top myths that I hear about entrepreneurship and set the record straight.
It Costs a Lot of Money to Get Started
The first myth that I hear frequently is that it costs a lot of money to start a business. In all honestly, you can start a business with very little money. I have met several successful online entrepreneurs who don’t even own a laptop. They run everything from their smartphones.
One thing that you will need is a way to showcase your products online. Platforms like Etsy charge small commissions to put your products on their websites which allows you to get your products in front of their customers. That commission is well worth getting your products in front of millions of eye-balls.
You can also build your own website for relatively cheap through Squarespace, Shopify, or WordPress. I wasn’t super confident about building my own website, but didn’t want to pay a ton of money to have a website.
So, I ended up purchasing a course called Architect that helped to make the process much less painful. If you want more information about that you can go to bit.ly/architect2019.
A little side note on Architect, I am an affiliate for this course but only recommend it because I am a super fan of the course.
Other than where to sell your products, you will likely have to make a small investment in products or materials to get your shop going. You can easily start a small online business for fewer than 100 dollars – that’s really nothing in the scheme of things.
Of course, if you want to start a bricks and mortar business, it will cost more, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. You may have to get creative and find used equipment, but it is possible to start a business without spending tons of money.
I initially invested $1500 to start my handmade business. All other equipment purchases or upgrades were paid with money generated from my business. I now work with equipment that is worth more than my initial investment and never once had to take out a loan, so it is possible to build a business without spending a lot of money or going into a lot of debt.
You just have to be okay with not paying yourself as much in the beginning and reinvesting it into your business in an effort to help it grow.
Introverts Can’t Be Successful
Surely by now you know this one is not true. I’m the introvert of all introverts. But you could also look at the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg as an example – he may be one of the most famous introverts of all. He created one of the best communication tools for other introverts. With the advent of social media, introverts can become very successful entrepreneurs, too.
As an introvert, I am super thankful for social media and email. It means I can conduct my business without really ever having to “talk” to anyone.
I will also say that as you become more confident in your business, communicating and interacting with your niche becomes easier.
Starting a Business is Easy
That’s a big fat nope. It’s not easy if you are doing it right. In fact, all those ads that you see on Facebook telling you how easy it is to start a business annoy the living daylights out of me. By telling people it is easy, they are setting them up for failure. The newbie entrepreneur gets started in their business, finds out it is hard work, they think THEY are doing something wrong, and give up on their dream.
It’s not fair to be dishonest about the commitment that goes into starting and running a business.
You need to study the market, your competition, and your own skills and figure out how to go about it correctly. Starting a business is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but it has also been super rewarding. It requires immense dedication and self-motivation. Easy is not a word that I would ever use to describe it.
Good Products/ Services Mean Success
Even if you have great products and services, if you don’t then follow through and market so that you can get the word out, you will still not be successful. I have consulted with multiple sellers who make great products, but a lack of a marketing plan has kept them from reaching their target audience.
There is no “build it and they will come” in the business world.
You have to tell your customers that they need your product. Promoted listings, posting on social media, biweekly newsletters, there must be a marketing plan in place so that consumers know where to find you.
My Schedule is All Mine
Yea. No. That isn’t happening. Let go of the idea of balance, at least in the beginning of your business startup. The first couple of years I worked 70+ hours a week to get my shop up and going. Thankfully, things have levelled out and I work a much more realistic schedule. That doesn’t mean that I can just take off work on a whim.
Now that I am self-employed, my days are planned to a tee. It’s not like when I worked at the hospital and someone would fill in for me when I took a day off. If I’m not working, then orders don’t go out. Instead, realize that you can juggle things enough so that you won’t miss little Jonny’s recital, but you will likely have to work late to make up for it.
I Need to Do it All Myself
If you go in with this idea, you’re going to quickly get overwhelmed and then miss out on opportunities to innovate and create value – these are the main jobs of any successful entrepreneur.
I’ve talked about this before and I’m sure I will talk about it again. Big CEOs like Jeff Bezos don’t do everything in their business. They find experts to take care of what needs to get done. They hire the best person for SEO. The best person for marketing. They make sure to have the best person in place for each position so the company as a whole is performing optimally. In the handmade community, we often have a mindset that we need to do it all.
When it comes to directly interacting with customers (i.e., customer service emails, listing descriptions, designing new products, social media posts), I do those tasks because I want to be in control of how my customers interact with my brand. When it comes to tasks that don’t directly interact with customers, I look for a virtual assistant so I can focus on the tasks that are a better use of my time.
Paying a virtual assistant $15 for something that would take me several hours to complete just makes sense. Focus where you are talented and hire experts for the rest. Fiverr.com and upwork.com are great resources for this.
More Is Always Better
Many times when a someone starts a new Etsy shop they make the mistake of trying to be everything to everyone. The best advice I heard when I first started my business was, if you try to sell to everyone, you sell to no one.
Remember, niching down is imperative and this includes choosing a well-defined niche audience and distinct products and services expressly for them.
You are not Walmart, you are an expert designer like Tiffany & Co or Mercedes- Benz. Expert designers focus on one product and build trust within that expertise. This is especially true for handmade businesses. You don’t want to look like a commodity shop. You want your customers to feel like they a buying from an expert artisan in your niche. If you are a painter and a knitter, that’s great! Just be sure to separate the products into two different shops so you don’t confuse your customers.
I hope this discussion has helped you to let go of these common myths and focus on the things that are most important for every entrepreneur. That’s recognizing opportunities, identifying innovation and creating value for your audience.