No one said that starting and running your own business would be easy. It can often be quite tricky to navigate the waters of entrepreneurship without making a few mistakes. In my experience, I have come across a few common pitfalls that I wish someone had shared with me early on. They have since come to shape my approach to business.
First and Foremost, Explode Myths
There are common beliefs about a business that may be holding you back from success. Here’s a look at some of the most common myths:
Myth #1 – Your Idea Needs to Be the First and Only
Being first to market is no guarantee of success, and simply being a copycat or fast follower can lead to failure. To be successful, you need to have a good idea, that serves a need, and that you can execute well. For example, when I started RightWorks, the goal was not to build another successful staffing agency, but to serve a need I saw as unmet within that space – my goal was to be the best staffing agency for difficult-to-fill positions in future-forward industries such as technology and aerospace engineering.
The key is to identify the white space within your chosen industry. Customers will always have unmet needs. It’s up to businesses to find these needs and fill them. This is where you can step in and fill the void. There are several successful brands that succeeded in a crowded sector that prove that improving an existing idea can be the key to success. The crucial factor is to have a differentiated offering. For instance, Netflix became an affordable, monthly subscription service with no ads when videos and cable
TV services had already saturated the market. Hinge carved out a niche by being a dating app for people looking for more than just a hookup. Lyft succeeded by being a rideshare company known for its drivers’ friendliness and customer service.
Myth #2 – You Need to Raise Funds Before Starting
One of the most common misconceptions about startups is that you need a lot of money. This simply isn’t true. You can start where you are with what you have and build slowly by starting with your savings, for example. You can also look for small investors among your friends and family. If you need more funding, there are also angel investors who may be willing to help you out if you can show how your idea or service will meet a market need. Take the case of Sara Blakely, the founder and CEO of the intimate apparel brand Spanx. She started her business with $5,000 in savings while working a full-time job. Today, Blakely is one of the Time 100 most influential people in the world and is 93rd on the Forbes list of the most powerful women in the world.
Myth #3 – Leaders Need to Create a Hustle and Grind Culture
One of the misconceptions I hear repeatedly is that successful leaders work long hours, don’t take time for themselves, and expect their teams to follow suit. I can tell you from personal experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A hustle and grind approach to work is a sure way to de-motive your team members and burn yourself out in the process.
At RightWorks, creating a balanced culture where team members feel appreciated and considered starts with our hiring process. Our hiring team is well practiced in hiring to create an inclusive team that celebrates diversity. Afterall, the best ideas are born from teams that include individuals with different life experiences and points of view, so we do all that we can to honor and foster that.
We also make it clear from the outset that we value personal time. Our teams can take time off when they need to for themselves or their family obligations. Additionally, our philanthropic arm, KindWorks encourages team members to get involved and volunteer for causes and community activities that are important to them. This approach has proven that giving back and taking time for ourselves is one of the best ways to ensure that business moves at the optimal pace, our team members stay motivated, and our clients’ expectations are surpassed.
Myth #4 – Failure Is Not an Option
When you’re an entrepreneur, you must have an unrelenting dedication to your vision and business goals. In doing so, it helps to not be afraid of failure – you have to see it as a stepping stone to success. My motto is fail fast, learn, and move on.
In fact, at RightWorks we encourage our team members to talk about their mistakes. This helps to turn a potential negative into a positive because we can all share ideas about how to address issues differently in the future or simply have a good laugh and show our team members support. Mistakes are bound to happen, but the key to turning them into opportunities is to create an open environment to share them and learn from them.
It’s also important to take calculated risks to grow your business. For example, Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz made the bold decision to divest the company of several of its brands to maintain growth in response to unforeseen difficulties related to the pandemic. The company also re-evaluated its social media presence and conducted social listening to understand consumer attitudes and behaviors. As a result, the company continues to gain new consumers and grow globally.
Myth #5 – If You Build it, They Will Come
While it would be nice if having a strong concept and creating your brand or business was enough to attract your target audience. The fact is, there are a few key elements for business success that are often overlooked, such as:
Building a brand based on value/Being mission-driven: This will make it easier for customers or clients to understand what you do and help you make better decisions internally. It will also attract those clients and customers who connect with your company in a meaningful way – because you add something to their lives that goes beyond filling a transactional need. This is the ideal recipe for long-term customer loyalty.
Marketing and promotion: Getting the word out about your business and what differentiates it from the competition is critical and should be given attention and resources. Whether it’s through traditional advertising, social media, or trade industry networking, you are the best advocate for your business. So, make sure your voice is heard by the right people through the right channels for you.
In the end, it’s important to have a growth mindset to build a successful business. By recognizing your unique assets, reframing your thinking, creating an inclusive environment, not being afraid to fail, and keeping your business or service top of mind with your target audience, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common pitfalls and build a business that flourishes.