It seems as if everyone wants to start an online business these days. Unfortunately, too many aspiring entrepreneurs expect the process to be easy, hands off, and streamlined. If you hear anyone say that starting an online business is any of these, it’s time to tune out and move on. These people are perpetuating common myths about the industry.
Six Myths That Aren’t Worth Your Time
One of the problems about myths is that they tend to spread like wildfire. In the Internet era, an ill-timed statement has the potential to proliferate thousands of times in less than a day, and then it’s accepted as fact.
That being the case, you need to cross-reference everything you hear and only accept information from sources you can trust. Let’s briefly review some of the flaws behind the popular myths about online business startups. Not everything is as it appears on the surface.
1. Passion Alone is Enough
You’ll often hear business gurus and coaches tell you to follow your passion to inevitable profit. What happens in between, though? If passion equals profit, wouldn’t everyone drive a Benz, fly a private jet, and live a life of luxury?
Since this obviously isn’t the case, you should be sceptical of the supposed correlation between passion and success. “Yes, it’s important to create a business around something that interests you,” writes Ramit Sethi, successful entrepreneur and New York Times-bestselling author. “But what separates a successful online business from everyone else is business systems.”
Nobody wants to talk about business systems. When compared to sexy words like “revenue,” “profits,” and “success,” the phrase “business systems” is decidedly bland. As a result, self-proclaimed gurus prefer to skip over it.
If you want the cold, hard truth, here it is: Passion alone is just not enough to be successful. Yes, it’s a vital component, but it must be matched with the appropriate business systems and strategic goals.
2. You Don’t Need Any Capital to Get Started
Another myth that’s tempting to believe is the one that says you don’t need any capital to launch a business. This isn’t true either. Although you don’t have to have a six- or seven-figure savings account to launch an online business, you do need some capital to establish a solid foundation for growth.
There are plenty of free services on the Internet, but they tend to be free for a reason. In most cases, they are designed to push you toward a paying service that has better features. In other words, free services generally aren’t adequate for growing a real business. At the very least, you’ll have to pay for the following when you start an online business:
- Domain name
- Website hosting
- Logo design
- Website template or designer
- E-commerce platform
- Product inventory
- Marketing and advertising expenses
- Licenses, fees, and taxes
… and probably more
This isn’t meant to discourage you from attempting an online company; but it should give you a dose of reality. You’ve got to have some capital to launch a decent startup. An online business might require less up-front capital than a brick-and-mortar operation, but you can’t do anything without amassing some money.
3. You Must Have Funding Lined Up Before Pursuing an Idea
One myth that sadly holds a lot of people back is that you must have investors on board before you pursue an idea. But this doesn’t make much sense. Unless you’re a seasoned entrepreneur who can boast a track record of bringing ideas to market with a high rate of success, why would any investor give financial support to an unproven concept?
Don’t worry about lining up funding when you’re starting out. If you can prove your idea works, then you can approach investors. Remember this: The business comes first and the funding comes second.
4. Social Media Alone is Enough
The vast reach and pervasiveness of social media has tempted many online entrepreneurs to assume that launching a successful business is as easy as developing a grassroots social media marketing campaign. If only it were that easy.
Admittedly, social media is a powerful tool for low-budget marketing and advertising, but very few businesses are able to use it effectively enough to foster an idea from the ground up. In order to gain traction through social media, you’ll more likely have to invest months of time and pour piles of money into paid ads.
And in order to accomplish this, you’ll also probably need a full-time social media manager. The moral of the story is that social media is useful, but it cannot be your sole growth strategy.
5. You Can Keep Your Full-Time Job
In the beginning stages of your startup, you may be able to manage your old full-time job and your startup simultaneously. You’ll be running on adrenaline at this point, and the workload will be manageable.
However, there comes a time when you will have to quit your full-time job and plunge headfirst into your new venture. Anyone who tells you it’s fine to juggle your full-time job and your startup for ongoing months or years doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If you’re serious about growing, you have to give your full attention to the business.
This isn’t to say you should quit your job as soon as an idea for a startup pops into your head. Take some time to ensure you’re making the right decision. It’s smart to spend at least three months on your new idea, and secure verbal commitments from a handful of customers and clients during that period. At the same time, work on building between six and 12 months of living expense funds to offset the likely lack of income during the early stages.
Another common myth you’ll hear is that online business owners get to enjoy the freedom of travelling the world while they’re working. Although being an online business owner certainly gives you more flexibility than you’d have with a traditional nine-to-five cubicle job, it’s not nearly as flexible as you’d think.
There will be times when you can travel, but setting up your office in hotel rooms across the globe isn’t something you’ll want to do for an extended period of time. You need to have a home base where you can concentrate and establish continuity. Too much traveling will leave little time to scale your business.
That being said, you don’t have to work 24/7/365. The beauty of owning your own business is that you can take time off without having to turn in a form or notify your boss. By establishing the right systems, you can enjoy career flexibility.
The Key to Launching a Successful Online Business
The key to launching a successful online business is to be open-minded. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you that you can or cannot start an online business because of any particular factor. Businesses are composed of hundreds of individual moving parts. One element won’t prevent you from attaining success, or propel you toward the proverbial Promised Land.
If you want to be successful and launch an online business with a promising future, it goes without saying that you have to be willing to work hard and take risks. You’ll probably fail on many occasions, but keep pushing forward, and hoping for that special moment when you firmly grasp success.
Along the way, you’ll need to block out the noise and avoid focusing on the aforementioned myths that so often defeat aspiring entrepreneurs.
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