Don’t Fall for the Myths: How to Succeed with Your Small Business Start-Up

“All entrepreneurs have the willingness to face the fear and do it anyway. Start small and learn in bite size chunks, but most importantly get started. 

So, you have been thinking it’s about time you started something but just can’t quite get into the groove?  

Let’s break eight myths around business start-up and help you get the momentum to get started! 

Myth one: you can’t start a business without a business plan  

This is not true. Millions of small businesses worldwide have been started without a business plan. The action of starting the business is what matters. Once you have started and tested the concept, you can then develop a business plan to focus the strategy, share the vision with others and build a compelling case for accessing finance or partnerships.  

So rather than spending endless energy and many months writing and worrying about developing a perfect business plan, just take that jump forward to find your first client and get started.  

Myth two: you need a lot of money to start a business 

This is not true. Many businesses have been started on the kitchen table with a good idea, a laptop and perhaps a couple of friends for support. If this is your first business you are unlikely to get finance for your business (unless you have rich family or friends) so it is important to choose a business that requires little money to get started.

Your first business will give you the experience and ‘track record’ that you need to use in future to help raise capital for future growth. 

A word of warning here, even very experienced and successful entrepreneurs struggle to raise capital in early-stage start-ups – so unless you have a magical plan, best avoid a business model that requires this. 

Myth three: only really clever people can start a business

This is not true. All sorts and sizes and shapes of people start and run successful businesses. The only requirement is one first client to test your idea, the courage to get going, the willingness to learn and grow and the energy to keep on pushing forward. You can learn and improve your business skills from a book, from others and from experience.  

Myth four: I am too young to start a business 

This is not true. A quick search of the internet will yield a whole lot of stories of successful entrepreneurs, some still in primary school. My youngest daughter started her first business knitting scarves for teachers and parents while in grade 6. That experience taught her that while she loved to serve others and loved the creativity of knitting, this wasn’t enough. Profit was necessary to keep her passion afloat – and there was not enough margin in the business model for that, so she closed the business. This practical lesson will serve her well when she starts another business one day. My advice is the younger you start your first venture the better! 

Myth five: I am too old to start a business 

This is not true. The classic example is Colonel Sanders who started KFC at age 60, and the internet is also filled with success stories of older people. I started Fetola in my late forties and am certainly not done yet! Late start-up is a great opportunity to blend your wisdom and life experience with the energy and innovation of younger people, so jump in and enjoy the excitement! 

Myth six: You need specialist skills to start a business 

This is not always true. I just chatted to a young entrepreneur aged “20 on the dot” who started a business selling ‘pre-owned’ clothes on Instagram. By her own admission she knew absolutely nothing about business but had a product (old clothes belonging to herself and her friends) and spotted a need in the form of climate-aware young people in her Instagram network who wanted a new range of recycled clothes at reduced price that didn’t impact the planet. Bam! Six months later the business is already a success and she has probably gained more value through action learning in the business than any university degree could provide! 

Myth seven: You need to live in a big town to start a business 

This is not true. Whilst is might be easier to start something in a big town where there are people there are needs and where there are needs there are business possibilities. Yes your town may be small, but ask around to find out what you and others need and then build a business around that market demand 

One of the most delightful up and coming success stories in South Africa is Bee Natural – a natural product company started in the tiny town of Hopefield in Western Cape. If they can do it, you can do it! 

Myth eight: All it takes is a good idea 

This is 99.9% not true. The reality is that business success is less about the good idea and more about successfully putting the idea into action. Whilst there are a tiny, really miniscule number of inventors who have managed to sell a concept, don’t plan on this as your business model. Even in  the case of the “please call me” inventor this case is still pending 20 years later! For most of us a business is successful and profitable because we put the idea into action and make a profit from doing this.  

Last word: The one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common is the willingness to face the fear and do it anyway. So start small and learn in bite size chunks, but most importantly get started. 

About the Author:

Catherine Wijnberg is a powerful advocate for change: for women, entrepreneurs, South Africa and the planet. She is the Director and Founder of Fetola, and a thought leader on small business development, sustainability and circularity, with a passion for effecting scalable impact at the ecosystem level.

Thank you for reading this article. Catherine Wijnberg writes regularly about small business development, sustainability and circularity. To receive updates, please sign up here.