Five MORE Myths Perpetuated on Social Media About Small Business
A SECOND RUN AT MYTH BUSTING IN REGARD TO SMALL-BUSINESS...
Preface: This is a second go-round in debunking myths about small-business that are fomented on social media. Therefore, the numbering of these five myths begins at six. If you missed our first myth-busting adventure, the link to that article is listed at the end of this one.
"Small Business usually deals with known and established products & services ... [whereas] Entrepreneurial Ventures are for new innovative offerings..."— Investopedia
There are many myths about small-business created and perpetuated on social media by people who lack even a passing real-world acquaintance with owning or running a business at all.
One of these is the view that every small-business person is ipso facto an entrepreneur. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most small-business people seek to provide proven goods and services on a stable, long-term basis to an established niche market, defined either geographically or by market segment. That is one reason why franchising is such an attractive option to would-be small-business owners.
Myth #6 — Owning and running a small-business puts you in the company of the highly successful entrepreneurs of the world...
This is pure poppycock. Working for yourself does not make you an entrepreneur. This is not a popular view, but it is, I submit an accurate one.
It has nothing to do with the relative size of the business(es) involved, but rather with the attitudes and approaches of those who own and run small-businesses versus entrepreneurial adventurists who are seeking to create new markets, stimulate rapid growth, and profit highly from innovation.
Seeing yourself as a globe-trotting celebrity entrepreneur like Richard Branson may cause you to stand a little taller and straighter, or to puff out your chest a bit, but it may actually harm your chances of establishing or maintaining a small-business on a stable basis.
Myth #7 — Owning and running a small-business gives you the chance to pursue your "passion", while becoming wealthy...
There is no doubt that one criterion of a successful life is whether you can make a living doing the things that you would do even if you did not have to work to make a living. But the fact is most people, small-business or otherwise, don't get to earn a living by doing only what they wan to do.
To say this, is not to seek to compromise your aspirations and dreams. Rather, it is to increase the probability that your expedition into the territory of small-business will, because sound judgements can only be made from a perch called reality.
The reality is that virtually all endeavors in life, business-related or otherwise, require doing some things you don't like or want to do. Excelling in a sport, for example, requires hard training and practice. So too, running a small-business may involve at times firing employees — something that few decent people in this world care or want to do. Embarking on the road of small-business ownership and operation, without first coming to terms with this fact, is to court failure.
Myth #8 — Running a small-business doesn't require the same education, training, or skills that running a big business does...
Actually, it may require more. As a small-businessman, you will find yourself called upon to perform more cross-functional tasks that if you were involved in working for a big-business, or in an entrepreneurial context, where you have the luxury of hiring an array of people who are trained and experienced in doing all those things you're not trained or experienced in.
To my mind, small-business is best defined by a management structure that is much flatter than in a big-business. Small-businesses do not generally enjoy the luxury of having differentiated middle managers such as dedicated HR professionals, standalone accounting and financial centers, or purpose-designated marketing departments. So, the owner/operator of a small-business generally has to be a very quick study in successfully performing, or at least directing a wide variety of tasks. Which means that he or she needs to be just as well trained and educated as any high-level executive in a big-business... Not to mention more adaptable and quicker on his or her feet.
That is not to say every owner or operator of a small-business needs to have an MBA, or even a BBA or BSBA. It's only to say that, if you are considering entering the world of small-business, you should not underestimate what you will need in terms of education, training, and experience.
To be sure, many small businesses are started by people with minimal education, training, and experience. But if they want to stay in business, they have to grow quickly into being able to meet the demands for management skills. For small-business really is a get smart or die environment.
Myth #9 In small-business you do what you love, and the rest (meaning income) comes to you on its own...
Yeah, right. You gotta be kidding!
Only someone who's never been in business for him- or herself is going to tell you that. If your single-minded focus is to engage in some recreation, sport, or pastime, while at the same time have a living drop into your lap, good luck with that. Nothing, but nothing in life ever comes easily. So, why would you expect that in the world of small-business, it would be any different than it is in the rest of life and the world?
You should also think more than twice about turning a hobby or a favorite recreation into a business. For doing so often leads to less, not more time being available for actually pursuing that hobby or recreation. For example, most of us who build yachts generally spend less time yachting than we would, or did when we weren't professional boatbuilders. That doesn't mean we're not happy with the mix. Most of us are. But the proper conclusion is that building yachts provides, at least to those who do it, as much satisfaction as sailing one does.
If you're thinking of starting a small business having to do with one or your recreational or sporting passions, consider whether that ill be true for you, as well. And if you won't, or don't derive as much personal satisfaction from conquering business challenges as you might from, say, being a downhill slalom champion, don't turn your skiing obsession into a small-business.
Myth #10 — Owning a small business makes you the master of your own fate...
I suppose this one could be true. If you think you can simply decide not to pay your expenses. If you avoid having anyone work for you, so that you are not facing making a payroll every two weeks or month. If it doesn't bother you to have the city, county, state, and IRS chasing you for not filing your tax returns on time, or paying taxes due.
And if you enjoy hassling with landlords over how much your lease requires you to pay, and over all those services the landlord promised you before you moved in, like garbage collection more frequently than twice a year. If you are relaxed by thinking about where your next sales are going to come from, or whether your current bid for that big job is too high (and you'll lose out to the competition) or too low (and you'll lose money).
And if, moreover, you're stimulated by the notices from your accounting firm, internet provider, utilities company, and landscape maintenance firm that your rates are going up next fiscal quarter (after you've budgeted for the year at current rates). If you really think you don't have to make payments on your floorplanning or other business loan. If you can just shrug off the $50,000 in accounts receivables because the debtor just went into bankruptcy. If... if... if...
Be clear about it. Even if you own and operate a small-business, your fate will still be buffeted constantly by forces beyond your direct control — the state of the economy, the weather patterns this year, the price of crude oil, the phases of the moon and which house the Zodiac, and whether you are an Aquarius or a Leo.
A wise man once said that what you own, owns you...
I think it was either Willie Nelson, who made millions and apparently blew every penny of it. Or Johnny Cash, who was not exactly a model of rational thought, notwithstanding being a great C&W artist. But no matter, really.
The point is not to delude yourself that owning and operating a small-business will set you free. If you truly want to be free, you need to divest yourself of everything, material possessions, family, friends, the entire enchilada.
Owning and operating a small-business holds big positives for some people. For others it turns out to be worse, rather than better. And only you can decide into which group you will fall. The neat trick is to avoid falling for the myths that are propagated and perpetuated about it on social media. — Phil Friedman
Postscript: Please do not mistake what I've said here as discouragement to pursuing your dream of having and running a small-business. For it is not intended to be such. I have spent the vast majority of my adult working life as a small-businessman and consultant. Indeed, looking back, I would not have had it any other way. But that's me. And many other small-business people with whom I am acquainted and with whom I am friends. And my intent here is not to discourage, but only to encourage you to make or not make the leap based on a realistic view of what it is really like. — PLF
Author's Notes: If you found this article of value, you may want to take a look at the preceding piece
You might also want to look at some of my other writing about small business operations, management, and marketing:
And if you would like to discuss marketing or other issues you face in your efforts to join the ranks of small-business, email or message me to arrange for a free, no-obligation, 1/2-hour initial consult.
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
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Text Copyright 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Image Credits: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.com, GoogleImages.com, and the Port Royal Group
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