Operating a business is a huge undertaking as an entrepreneur. There are a tonne of moving parts to them and some of the things will fall through the cracks. And while that list of obligations is lengthy, there are certain things in that list that don’t serve a purpose. They take up a lot of your time. And what’s worse is some businesses fold because of some of these perceived notions.
The reality is some ideas around business and operating a business are flat out wrong. And believing in them is risky for you on the long term. So to help, here are some misconceptions that I’ve heard or read about in the years I’ve spent growing my writing business.
You Need A Building To Be Operating A Business
Technology these days has evolved and developed so much over the past five years I’ve been in business. Back when I first started, it was assumed a business would be in a building (or getting a building permit to build one yourself).
There was some talk about businesses operating wholly online, however my business studies never went into that extent. The idea of freelancing or operating a business entirely online was a weird concept in 2015 where I was at.
But by this point, there shouldn’t be any excuse. There has been a huge push for businesses to operate online to some extent. After all, there are plenty of reasons to do that. By that same point, you could also build your entire business online. There are so many different tools and resources available that you can make a business within your apartment.
All you need to do is find it.
You Always Need Large Funding To Be Operating A Business
Whenever I was putting together a business plan in school, there was obviously the finance section. In every venture, people put down that they were taking out a loan to fund it. Because businesses seemed like these massive undertakings in my mind, it made sense you needed a loan.
But as time went on and the more I started to work for myself, the more I realized this was a huge misconception. And my business is proof of that. I built it up mostly using free tools and resources I was looking around for. The only expense at the start was paying for my domain since an acquaintance of mine had a server he could host me on.
And that is pretty cheap.
The reality is these days it doesn’t require a lot of funding to start a business. Your idea can be as simple as turning a hobby into a money-making machine. Unless you are selling a product that requires specific and/or multiple resources, and equipment, the costs can get pretty low.
It’s to the point that Gary Vaynerchuk has stated many times before you can open up shop from selling stuff in your house or apartment you don’t use and using the proceeds for funding.
You don’t need to get a loan. In fact, it might be even better to avoid that since it can create unnecessary pressure and stress in the starting months.
Entrepreneurs Have Ample Of Free Time
No. No they do not. Spend any amount of time reading up on what an entrepreneurial life is like and you’ll get a – albeit a somewhat exaggerated – story. Ask some of the entrepreneurs who have grown large and successful businesses and you’ll hear them claiming you need to work between an 80 hour work week upwards to 95 hours a week.
Of course, a business can be operable in much less hours. I’m at a point now where I’m working under 30 hours. I could get even lower provided that I put i more work on developing passive income sources.
At the end of the day, being an entrepreneur does require you to put in a good amount of work to make things happen. Even if you’re going for the bare bone business and trying to set up passive income sources, you’ll need to work hard at the beginning.
And then you’ll have to work to maintain it as factors are constantly changing. New people enter into the industry and make new changes. You’ll need to stay on top of industry trends to stay relevant in certain circumstances.
To those who think or say that entrepreneurial work is glamorous and you get loads of free time are kidding themselves or they have worked their ass off for so long they don’t need to put in as much effort now and giving some false information.
You Need A Business Plan
This one is a weird one for me. While there are plenty of reasons to have a business plan, I would argue you don’t need a business plan in the traditional sense. My take on business plans are the ones I had to do in school. They are long, detailed, and overall pointless in having.
Yes, they do provide direction and clarity for your business, but I don’t think you need to go to great lengths to have a business plan. My reason for thinking that is similar to why some people think to-do lists don’t work.
People think to-do lists don’t work mainly because people write down every little task they’re setting out to do. And whenever something new comes up, they add it to the list and follow it up with steps to accomplish that task.
The problem with those kinds of to-do lists is your brain gets overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to do. It then shuts down and gets people to think to-do lists are useless.
A business plan works the same way.
If you spend so much time working on the details of how you think your business will go, you’re limiting your options. You get tunnel vision on your tasks and focus on those things. After all, that’s what the plan says and it should in theory work right?
The thing with business is that it’s unpredictable as well as life. We can’t map out what specific steps our business is going to take to get there. Things happen. You may procrastinate on some things or you may experience roadblocks and think of a creative workaround.
Being prepared for those things is helpful and it’s detrimental to think that you need to perform in a specific way to get those results.
As such, I think you do want to plan things out, but keep in mind that the plan is tentative and is allowed to be changed and altered. With that in mind, you don’t want to be dumping days or weeks into a business plan. Devote a few hours to your plan.
Produce First, Pay For Marketing Later
I know this doesn’t work because I have first hand experience with this. One of the biggest problems I had in my business was marketing. I know a lot about marketing but devoting time to it has been a struggle for me. Not to mention I lack the patience necessary to make it work.
I still keep things realistic though. Marketing is difficult to pull off and goes beyond making a few posts.
That said, I’ve used that logic of thinking to delay marketing for years, focusing on writing and nothing else. In some cases, little marketing can work. I get a few hundred views on Medium every day and all I do is write on the platform. I don’t actively promote that work. Medium does that for me.
But in most situations, marketing shouldn’t be at the bottom of the list. It’s a big part of your overall branding and creates a stronger connection between people. As you learn how to measure ROI on SEO and other forms of marketing, you’ll see why so many businesses treat it as essential to their ongoing success.
By putting off marketing, people won’t know who you are. Your only chance of getting out there is people stumbling upon you randomly. That certainly happens, but you can speed the process up through some advertisements here and there.
If You Work Hard Enough You’ll Succeed
From some of the previous statements made about working hours, it leaves the mentality that you need to be working hard in order to find great success. Not to mention the fact I’ve been rambling on that it’s hard work for any business to succeed.
That is absolutely true. But you don’t need to be working as hard as you would think.
While effort in anything is important, another caveat to it is where that effort is going to. One famous productivity strategy people talk about is the 80/20 rule. This rule determines that 80% of your work devotes to 20% of your results. All the same, 20% of your work gives you 80% of your results.
In other words, people might be focusing on the work that contributes very little to their wealth and success over the smaller and more crucial parts of their business.
That’s not to say you should never prioritize smaller less lucrative projects. They can grow larger over time. But your effort needs to be focused on the things that are giving you the most results.
For example, I’ve spent a good chunk of time on creating posts for my blog and Medium. That said, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with my clients. Way more than on blog writing. Why? Because my income source right now is through my clients and I make very little from Medium and my blog at the time of writing this.
It’d be foolish of me to devote my entire day to my blog and my site right now since it only covers a small percentage of my income. Still, I produce because someday it’ll shift.
Focus your efforts on the things that are giving you the most results. Don’t neglect the other stuff, but be mindful you’re not putting in more than what is necessary to make it grow.
You Need To Have Many Connections
I understand the value of having a group of people to be confiding it. This is something that I’ve been striving in my own life right now. However, the success and failure of your business isn’t dependent entirely on how large your network is.
Instead, what is really going to matter is the strength of the connections that you’ll need for your business to grow faster and further.
By all means, you can definitely make it flying solo. But it takes a lot of time and effort to see changes. I’ve been working solo for a long time and it took me four years of hustling just to move out of my parent’s house. I did it all on my own, but I can imagine the process would’ve been much faster had I reached out to people, made connections, learned new things and developed myself more by forming connections.
If I had a stronger network, things would be different. Hence why I’ve been working little by little on it now. Hiring a marketing time and forming bonds with them, reaching out to other writers more frequently and working to make genuine connections. These are things I want to do in my life as these can help my business grow.
In other words, connections are important, but you want to focus on the connections that’ll help you to grow your business. Focus on what your business needs and have connections that’ll help in those areas.
Operating A Business Is Rewarding When Done Right
Despite all of the hard work and energy poured into a business, there are some serious payoffs and it’s a rewarding experience. I’ve learned so much about myself through operating a business. From opinions to work mentality and on a personal level as well. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for time spent making this business work.
Even though I’m not at the point where I want to be at, I’ve spent time around others who have built incredible things. The successes and growth is inspiring to those who have been keeping their nose to the ground and working away to make something incredible themselves.
It’s energizing, inspiring, and incredible.
There is a lot of beauty to operating a business, but to understand that, you need to sift through all of the misconceptions about entrepreneurship and how to run a business.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon