If starting a business is something you’re interested in, you’ve probably sat and dreamt up a perfect scenario: you get to work wherever you want in the world, have a high-retention audience that always comes back for your latest product release, you have more time to spend with family and friends, and your stress levels slowly drop as you become your own boss. These expectations, while wonderful, can put new business owners under a lot of pressure, because the reality of running a startup is a lot different to that. We’ve looked at the expectations some new owners have, and the reality of them, so you know a little more about what to expect.
Expectation: I can win any audience over with my product
It has been found that 90% of UK eCommerce startups fail within the first 120 days. 35% of those businesses cite having little to no market for their products or services to be the core reason for their failure. Having a product that isn’t marketable, no matter how good you personally think it is, will almost always end in issues.
Reality: You need to listen to your audience, and use their opinion to shape your product
The reality is, you should conduct extensive market research before brainstorming a new product. Identify what is already on the market, and what your USP (unique selling proposition) is. Once your product is created, test it with a sample audience, and listen to what they have to say. This will help ensure your product idea is strong, and there is a need for it within the market.
Expectation: I’m going to be the next Elon Musk/Steve Jobs/Bill Gates
Going into business expecting the lavish lifestyles of top entrepreneurs like Elon Musk is always a bad sign. The chances of this are slim: most business owners work hard, and find the success that is aligned with their goals.
It’s not the best idea to compare your goals to that of millionaires, because that can put unnecessary pressure on your business, and on yourself. Plus, these entrepreneurs didn’t want to be like anyone else, they strived to be the most authentic version of themselves, and set goals that were important to them.
Reality: You can definitely succeed within your niche, with hard work. Reaching fame levels is much more difficult, and isn’t likely
Go into business because you have a passion for it. Work hard each day, and do your best. Don’t aim for fame, aim for happiness.
Expectation: My stress levels will drop because I will be working for myself, and won’t have to report to a boss
If you started your business journey like most folk, you were probably stuck in a 9-5 that you hated, and spent a lot of your work day dreaming of the supposed freedom and flexibility that comes with being a business owner. You’re your own boss, and you can take charge of your workload, spend more time with your family and friends, and finally pick up that hobby that you forgot about.
Reality: 85% of new business owners report feeling stressed
The reality is, starting a new business is an incredibly stressful venture. In a study of 500 business owners, 83% reported feeling stressed within the last six months. Managing employees, and feeling a personal responsibility for the success of the business, were some of the noted reasons to explain these high stress levels.
A lot of owners spend late nights in the office, and find the lack of structure difficult to manage at first. Being your own boss means learning how to self motivate, which is a skill that a lot of 9-5 office workers lack. It’s not all bad, once you’ve gotten over the hump of new-ness, and you’re more established, you can manage your workload more easily. Just don’t think it will be an easy ride from the get-go.
Expectation: I can work anywhere in the world and run my business from my laptop
This is a common misconception for startup owners. In some cases, you can definitely work from a sandy beach in Maui, downing bottomless mimosas and getting a tan. But the reality is, if you’re working with products or services, being closer to home can make things a lot easier.
Reality: It is much more likely that you will need to stay put, work from your home and be close to your manufacturers, sellers and employees.
You will likely be in a much better position living and working in the UK. By being close to home, you increase your chances of success by being on hand for any issues.
Expectation: I can sort out my marketing later, I need to iron out the kinks in my business first
Marketing seems to be an afterthought for some new business owners. The process of launching a business can be stressful, so in the early stages your focus may not be on marketing.
Reality: Right after creating and listing your products, marketing should be the absolute next thing you think about.
From business inception, marketing should be on your radar. As soon as your products are listed, a strong marketing strategy will help keep your business afloat, drive traffic to your website and bring in new customers. This is a very important aspect of running a successful business, and having both an outlined plan and budget for your advertising can be the difference between success and failure for your new business.
Having business expectations aren’t always negative when it comes to starting your own business. Expectations can help drive you in the beginning, and will slowly be replaced as your business gains stability and you start to sell more products and services, and interact with more customers. That being said, it’s important not to get stuck on expectations, and instead of letting high expectations ruin your entrepreneurial spirit, take them in your stride and learn from them.