4 things you DON’T need to start a business
There are lots of guides explaining the things you must do to be successful in business. But many of these guides get it wrong and lead start-up businesses down the wrong path. Here are 4 business myths you may have been told you need…but don’t.
A ‘killer’ idea
There’s a perception that building a business requires a brilliant and original idea. And while yes, finding something unique can be a huge boost to any business.
However, in my experience, there are very few truly original ideas. Think of the successful organisations around today. Amazon didn’t invent online selling, it just does it better than anyone else. Uber didn’t invent taxi cabs, it just used technology to make the process of booking a taxi more convenient than the old method. Netflix didn’t invent television, but it has transformed the way we pay for and consume content by releasing every episode at the same time and offering contextual suggestions about what we might like to see next.
The point is that the execution of the idea is more important than the idea itself. There are lots of good ideas - most people at some point will have a strong business idea. The difference between those who then make it a success and those who fail is the execution of that idea.
Many people mistakingly believe you need lots of capital to start a business. And yes, if you want to open a physical store or buy a fleet of vans to start a courier business, you need capital. But in the digital age, it’s possible to start a business with nothing more than a phone, a laptop and an internet connection.
Securing a loan before you’ve secured any kind of revenue stream is the fastest path to business ruin. Spend wisely and lightly for as long as you can. When you’re bringing in some money, then you invest making it bigger and better.
Lots of spare time
“If only I could quit my job, I could build an amazing business”. I hear this all the time. But you do have time. Yes, it might be the two-hour window you have between putting the kids to bed and sleeping yourself. It might be the weekend. But what are you doing during these times? Watching Game of Thrones? Out with friends?
If you’re not willing to sacrifice some of ‘your’ time to building a business, you won’t succeed. You have time - we all do - we just don’t think we do. If you have to stay in your present job while building a business, it is tough. I understand that. But you have to want to spend it working on your business. No one else will do it for you. It's simply a case of getting your priorities right.
Get it right from day one
You can spend months planning out your business, trying to perfect every element of the product, the marketing and the service. The problem is, if you spend too long at this stage, you probably won’t ever reach a point when you have something tangible.
It’s very rare that a business emerges fully formed and polished. There is always an element of trial and error. You may think you know your customer, what they want and how they will respond to your proposition. But until you test it in real world conditions, you are making at best an educated guess.
The beauty of the digital age is that you can measure the impact of your efforts using analytics and verbal feedback and adjust quickly. On this note, make sure you use a website platform that allows you to edit your site with incurring costs. Websites need to be fluid as your business today and getting ‘locked down’ by the content you supplied to a designer six months ago is extremely damaging.
Trial and error may be an unorthodox and seemingly unprofessional way to structure and plan a business. But it is reality and every business experiences it at some stage. The smart businesses are able to adapt if they go “off script”, rather than panicking because the business isn’t following a pre-determined path.