Thinking of starting a business? For many, becoming an entrepreneur represents the epitome of the American dream: freedom, independence and unlimited opportunity.
It’s true: running your business can be incredibly rewarding. Though any veteran business owner will tell you that the Hollywood image of being in business doesn’t always match up with reality. Let’s take a look at some of the top misconceptions rookie business owners often have, and what the truth is.
Misconception No. 1: You can set your schedule
Being a business owner does allow some flexibility. However, it’s a lot of hard work. Be prepared to work harder than you ever dreamed, especially the first three years.
Most businesses require you to be open during specific hours. Once you set those hours, you’re obligated to show up.
Related Article: 3 Business Myths People Should Stop Believing
Even if you don’t have set working hours, you’ll need to budget time to complete all necessary tasks required for your business, both billable and non-billable work. If you run a business that provides essential services, such as plumbing and HVAC repair, be prepared to respond to emergency calls at any hour of the day or night.
Misconception No. 2: Hard work is your ticket to success
As stated above, hard work is absolutely necessary to succeed when starting a business—but it’s not sufficient. Hard work alone doesn’t prevent you from making foolish decisions that can run your business into the ground. You also need to work smart.
One of the smartest strategies to implement is to track everything you do—especially cash flow. When you have a good handle on which activities and items are profitable and which are not, you will be better able to make decisions that keep you in the black.
Another smart way to work is to foster relationships. Whether it’s creating win-win partnerships with fellow business owners, encouraging teamwork amongst your employees, or going the extra mile to keep your customers happy, people skills pay off!
Misconception No. 3: Low prices will beat my competitors
Rookie business owners often try to beat their competition by outbidding them. This strategy can work in the short term, but in the long run it usually backfires.
Setting prices too low can set you up for failure. You’ll have to work even harder or sell more for the same or less return. This may cause you to cut corners, thus providing less value to your customer. In a service business, pricing too low leaves no margin for error. You are more likely to have to charge more than your estimate, which customers never appreciate. It may even affect your attitude, which can drive away business in a big way.
Believe it or not, low price is not the most important thing to customers. Sure, they want a fair price, but what’s more important to them is value. That means quality work or products, but it can also mean many other things. These include showing up on time, keeping your promises, keeping your customers informed, or just making sure that every member of your staff is friendly, knowledgeable and polite. Deliver these things, and price becomes far less of an issue.
Misconception No. 4: Build it and they will come
When starting a business, you will probably find yourself eating, sleeping and breathing that business. You know exactly what makes your business great! It can be hard to imagine that anyone would not want to do business with you.
However, don’t count on crowds beating down your door just because you’ve hung a shingle. You’re much more likely to hear crickets—unless there is a good marketing plan in place and it is executed well.
To market your business successfully, you’ll need to do three things:
- Get the word out
- Craft a message that gets people interested in what you offer
- Master the art of selling
Start by telling everyone you know that you are in business. From there, take advantage of free resources such as the information on this blog. You can also take classes in marketing or sales. Or, hire someone to help you. Whatever road you choose, spend some time every day promoting the business—and your sales should start to increase.
Running a business is a lot of hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun. The Hollywood ideal of being in business does have a large core of truth: Starting and running a business offers unlimited opportunity. If you are dedicated, not afraid to work hard, and willing to do what it takes to learn the ropes, it’s one of the most rewarding career paths imaginable.
Author: Patricia Bonacorda is the President of Spartan Plumbing, a plumbing and HVAC company that has assisted commercial restaurants and residential homes since 1964. Spartan Plumbing is a licensed, bonded and insured business that provides professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services throughout Washington D.C. and parts of Maryland. Learn More