Looking to launch your own business venture? You’ll receive plenty of well-intentioned advice, and be reminded of some horror stories. But don’t believe everything you hear, says Simon Slade.
Those of us who have started a business – or are in the process of doing so – know that there is no shortage of negativity around this topic. In my experience, people are very eager to tell you about all the obstacles that are insurmountable when trying to start a company.
Whether this comes from a place of genuine concern or envy, it doesn’t matter. People have often experienced struggles with their own dreams and are eager to project their failures.
It’s important to know that many of the challenges people tell you about aren’t that hard to overcome. Here are four of the most common lies I’ve heard about start-ups and why no founder should let them stop him or her.
1. Your idea has to be brand new
Many of the best start-ups have been born by improving upon another idea. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
When my co-founder Mark Ling and I decided to start SaleHoo, we weren't the only supplier directory, but we knew we could be the most trusted and that we could supply the best educational resources. This was enough to promote faith in our idea and ultimately provide us with success.
It’s a lofty goal to come up with a truly brand-new business idea. Most businesses are introduced within an existing market. If you can provide better customer service, improve the product, and separate yourself from the competition with continual innovation, your idea doesn’t have to be perfectly original.
2. You can’t start a business without tons of cash
It saddens me to think about all the wonderful business ideas that have gone unrealised because entrepreneurs thought they needed a huge amount of start-up cash. It’s amazing how far you can stretch a small sum of money, especially when you’re surrounded by people who believe in your idea.
SaleHoo started with just a measly $1,000. We begged, borrowed, and promised later payment for as many of our initial expenses as we could. For everything else, we dipped into our $1,000. Our developer even worked on an IOU basis to begin with.
Eight months after our launch, we reached 10,000 members, started earning a profit, and everyone’s good faith paid off.
Starting a business doesn't have to require thousands of dollars, particularly in the online and e-commerce spheres.
3. You can’t tackle a market unless you’re a local
Geographical barriers mean far less to businesses today than they did a decade ago. Business owners now have the opportunity to reach across the world and break into a variety of markets, regardless of where they are located.
While proximity to a market can prove helpful, particularly if you aren’t operating an online business, it's definitely not a requirement. There will be many successful companies that excel in that market without basing their operations there. In fact, my company, headquartered in New Zealand, serves predominantly US-based customers.
4. The start-up realm is saturated
This is one of the most common and perhaps most disturbing lies I’ve heard about entrepreneurship. There is definitely an upswing in the start-up realm*: in particular, millennials are starting more companies than their baby boomer counterparts.
Even considering this, there is no such thing as a saturation of start-ups – failing businesses act as a natural safety net to prevent this from happening.
The fact that more people are starting their own businesses should not be a deterrent for those looking to do so themselves. If anything, this means you are in good company and there is a more robust network of support available to you. Competition is always healthy.
Starting a business isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible. Don’t let the falsehoods above deter you from pursuing a worthy idea.
Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of more than
8,000 pre-screened suppliers.