If you have been sitting in your office thinking that you would love to be your own boss, you’re not alone. While it may sound attractive, jumping from the comfort of a steady salary into the unknown is difficult.
People often think that one needs to start a business that is trending, or to have a lot of capital. Additionally, many measure success as becoming the next unicorn; think AirBnB, Uber, and Facebook.
What are the top 5 myths of being your own boss?:
Myth #1 – I must enter the most lucrative sector/ industry
Every entrepreneur’s top priority is to have high returns on profit. Many times, it is easier to duplicate an existing concept or idea, than to introduce a brand new concept into the market. However, this does not always guarantee a secured flow of income.
A good example would be the birth of the co-working industry, which saw rapid growth globally. The trend saw many co-working spaces created in mere months, causing an oversupply of co-working spaces in Singapore at one point. This created stiff competition in the market, causing many co-working spaces to compete through pricing as there were plenty of alternatives to choose from. The occupancy rate for co-working space took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, constraining people to work from home, causing struggle for many of these office-rental companies to keep afloat.
Therefore, do not be lured into a particular industry just because of how seemingly lucrative it is. Following trends doesn’t always work unless you have worked in the industry for many years and have ample of exclusive insights of the industry. Being in trendy industries will mean facing intense competition.
Instead, look for an existing problem that needs to be solved. Being able to identify the root cause and providing a feasible solution will put you in an advantageous position, and one step closer to a successful entrepreneur/ founder!
Myth #2 – I’m able to do what I want, when I want
Being your own boss is not always as sexy as it sounds. There are many sacrifices you have to take on, such as bidding goodbye to having a good night’s sleep. Oftentimes, running your own business also means having to deal with a more strenuous workload than when you were an employee. You might also find instances where you realise that you are actually your own worst boss! It just isn’t as smooth-sailing as you’d hope for.
For instance, I believe that for every process of starting your own startup, there is a downward slope before you even start to embark on the painful upward climb towards its peak. Essentially, you have to brace yourself to be ready to do every single thing on your own, even things like cleaning your office.
Be ready to take on tough challenges along the way, as you are representing and building your brand from scratch. Your past affiliation and network will only be of limited help.
Myth #3 – Go Big or Go Home
Company size or financial capacity should not be the only success factors of a startup, these are just one way of measuring success. Entrepreneurs should remember to look into the social impact their business can bring to society. A small team can create a big impact, so size does not matter. One great example would be Canva, a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations and other visual content. With an employee size of slightly more than 1,000, Canva has a global user base of more than 15 million monthly active users.
It is in our culture to glorify the lottery ticket winners and ignore the smaller success stories because they feel boring in comparison. But when you talk to these smaller business owners, you will find that their stories are anything but boring.
This mantra of ‘Go Big or Go Home’ keeps people on the sidelines with fear that their ideas may not be big enough. There are a lot of people out there that doubt themselves and don’t venture to start because they think that the idea isn’t perfect yet. It’s paralyzing to think about building the ultimate mouse trap than one that’s just a little bit better.
Myth #4 – I have succeeded in the past, so I will succeed now
You might have achieved past successes in your life through school or work. However, that does not determine that you will be successful in running your own business.
In a study conducted by CB Insights (2017), the main reason behind startup failure was because there was no market need for their product or services. Often, entrepreneurs fail to identify the root problem that is faced by the market, instead only focusing on what they think might succeed. As a result, they often skip the process of validation and gathering of feedback from customers, therefore failing to bridge the gap between their solution and the problem statement.
Myth #5 – If I stubbornly stick to my plan, I win
Plans are theoretical and they are often used by business leaders to prepare their business for the future. Traditionally in the startup industry, there are 3 main reasons why you draft a business plan:
1) To articulate your business
2) To document how you intend to solve key challenges and,
3) To pitch your business ideas to investors.
Our world changes faster and faster everyday. As technology evolves, customer preferences shift and macroeconomics conditions unfold significantly. Due to the pace of change, be prepared that your business plan will be outdated very quickly. This could be a matter of mere months! The point is, as an entrepreneur, be ready to change the course of your business plan.
Most startup entrepreneurs live their life in “sprint”, a startup lingo that means prioritising on providing the solutions for the upcoming problems within one or two weeks’ time. A recent study of Greene and Hopp shows that the question is not about whether a business plan should be done, but WHEN. According to their research, the most successful entrepreneurs were those who wrote their business plan between 6 and 12 months after deciding to start a business.
Therefore, my suggestion for you is to have an open-mind and actively seek feedback from customers, be adaptable and prepared to change your plan based on feedback you receive! You can plan for every step of your future venture or to rely only on inspiration and creatively.
Most importantly? Defy the myths. Have faith in yourself!
Co-written by Nigel Jude Ong and Li Mei after Johny Tay, MSc‘s fantastic webinar of “What you need to know about being your own boss”:
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