Three Myths of Small Business Ownership

I’ve owned a business nearly half my life. The idea of making payroll is almost like the furniture to me at this point. It just IS. While owning a business can be nerve-wracking and lonely, I’d never talk anyone out of giving it a try. Starting a business from nothing is as American as it gets.

There are, however, three myths I’d caution a prospective entrepreneur to consider:

  1. You can do it all. Let’s get this one out of the way first:  you suck at some things. Nobody has all the skills necessary to perform all the duties necessary to start and run a business. Sure, the same probably can’t be said of the hot dog stand…but if you’re going to scale your business beyond YOU, you’re going to need some help. Marketing and IT are often weak spots for new entrepreneurs. Consider the weak spots and find reputable vendors who will make strong partners. My experience also points to the idea that everyone – especially entrepreneurs – needs mentors as well. I recommend a business organization like Entrepreneurs’ Organization to also connect you with other business owners in other industries.
  2. Your employees know what you want. You’re going to be busy. Spend time telling your employees EXACTLY what your organization does. You have to say it. 1,000 times. Define what they need to do to become successful. Document your values and cultivate them. YOUR values. “Creating” company core values is counterproductive. “Professionalism, Fairness, Integrity, Respect, Trust…blah blah blah blah blah.” Those are like showering and dressing: You have to do them to be on the bus. If you don’t have those, you never even get to be part of the organization.

    Real values define how YOU expect employees to approach their work, your customers, and each other.

    Those are the crucial areas where your true success will be measured, and you’ll succeed or fail.

  3. Owning a business means stability. If I’ve learned anything in business, it’s that being a business owner means remaining perpetually paranoid. The world is as volatile from a business perspective as it has ever been. In the last 100 years, the world has experienced an explosion of technological advancement that the world has never seen; and the end is not in sight. Politics and culture continue to evolve at a rapid clip, making accurate forecasts of the future a mere fantasy. Your business plan is garbage. You will abandon it quickly. Learn to second guess yourself and chart your course for a different objective. It will happen multiple times. Inflexibility is death.

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