The Most Prevalent Startup Myths Debunked

Knowing these common startup myths, paired with working hard on the right things, will set you up for startup success.

July 19th, 2017   |    By: Keith Shields

The startup ecosystem – especially the one found online like places here at Startups.co – is full of helpful material. Unfortunately, other internet sources can be full of myths. Let’s untangle some of the common startup myths you’ll hear, so that you can get started on rolling out a successful venture.

startup myths debunked

Ready to get started? Good.

Myth 1: All You Need Is an Idea

One of the most dangerous myths about start-ups is the idea that a “great idea” is enough to pull in a significant amount of money that will help your startup get started. In our competitive global landscape, investors aren’t interested in just ideas so much as they’re interested in a significant return on investment. How do you get past the idea?

Put in the Work: Investments are tricky businesses, and investors are desperate to not waste their time or money on stuff that simply won’t turn a profit. What’s going to take time, and what’s going to be worth your time, is putting in hard work, being perseverant, and developing your company to prove that you’re worth the investment. Get a great idea, sure, but remember that’s only a starting point.

  • Start with a great idea, wireframe your app or your website, work with user stories and design thinking or vision-based frameworks to build your startup from the ground up with an eye towards your end goals and ideal scenarios

Experience is Crucial: It’s also important to remember that investors are unlikely to invest a lot of money in people who are entirely new to the business. Make sure you get somebody on your team who does have a lot of experience that can show an investor you mean business with your business.

  • Network with people you can rely on to give you great recommendations
  • Work on your elevator pitch to properly sell your company or product to people – make them feel like they absolutely need and absolutely cannot live without – what you’re offering

Myth 2: Investments Are Going to Pour In and They’re the Only Path to Victory

The serious reality is that investments go to a small number of investments. And, unfortunately, investments can put your entire business plan at risk.

Investors can easily take control of your entire start-up if they’re eager to invest. Remember that accepting money from somebody comes at a cost, and the worst case scenario is that your startup, by accepting investments, is opening up itself to a potential breach in your integrity or in your initial business plan. Work on getting investors who want to work with you – otherwise, it might not be worth it.

Make it Scalable: What you’ll need is more than simply offering a service, but a way to ramp up your start-up to a higher volume. Essentially, you’ll need a scalable plan – otherwise, what’s the point of investment if you’re going to stay in the same place?

Consider Alternatives: If you’re unlikely to get investments, then don’t waste your time. The internet is a wonderful means of spreading the word about your start-up and providing plenty of resources that come free of charge, or at a low cost. Utilize the free resources at your disposal, like media marketing channels, landing pages, and so on.

  • Use landing pages, social media, email marketing, etc.
  • Consider bootstrapping – as many successful ventures started on a shoestring budget making do with guerilla marketing and product MVP’s.

Myth 3: Branding is About the Visual Identity of Your Start-Up

Branding is more than simply creating a logo or choosing the right colors. As we’ve written about previously, a brand ‘shapes how customers interact with a company.’ It’s a relational tool that connects you with your users, build loyalty, gain customers, and communicate your message clearly and consistently.

Build Your Brand from the Beginning: A brand consists of your vision, your values, your company culture, how you relate to and communicate with your clients, your mission, and, yes, even your visual identity. A vision-based framework can get you focused on the end-goal of your start-up and allow you the opportunity to build everything around that, get employees who fit in with your values, and provide you the opportunity to set the right tone to keep your employees happy, productive, and feel useful and respected.

  • Define your values
  • Pick the right business name
  • Consider your location and how that will impact what you do, who you’re selling to, and what you can reasonably offer – build your communication and relational efforts around that

Myth 4: All Customers Want the Same Thing

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a startup can make is to assume that everyone thinks, behaves, and acts the same and that they all desire a particular product or service. Not everyone is going to want what you have, and some will want what you have but don’t know about it or are turned off by a bad brand, poor marketing, or simply not even knowing about your product.

Market Research: Taking the time to properly research what is out there and how you can set yourself apart is going to be absolutely crucial in making sure you find your place in the market and fit what people are looking for.

  • Do plenty of demographics research.
  • Crowdsource opinions from your close acquaintances and ask them to give you honest feedback
  • If you’ve got your start-up, well, started, then pay attention to what customers are saying or, if you’ve got it set up, then focus on reviews and what you can improve upon

Customer Mapping: Figure out who is most likely to use your app, your product, or visit your start-up based on location, preferences, behaviors, and so on. Look up the likely candidates for your services using the tools at your disposal.

  • Use user stories to narrow down the likely users or customers you want to reach

Researching the most tried and true methods of researching your market, conceptualizing your business, and writing your business plan are great steps towards launching your startup or. However, ensure you’re always on the lookout for bogus material when searching through the depths of the internet or talking with ‘experts’ that sling the above myths as fact. Knowing these common myths, paired with working hard on the right things, will set you up for startup success.


About the Author

Keith Shields

Keith Shields is the Co-Founder and CEO of software development company Designli. Designli maintains a focus on building beautiful, transformative digital products for startups and enterprise clients.

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