Starting a new business is kind of like having a new baby. Everyone has questions about your new addition, and they all want to give advice – even when you haven’t asked for it.
Whether in the nursery or virtual office, not all advice given to new parents – and new business owners – is good. Consider these six pieces of advice entrepreneurs should ignore if they want to be successful.
1. Copy your competition to find success.
It’s fine to look at your competitors to see what’s working well – or not so well – for them. You may get some good ideas and inspiration for your own business. But don’t simply copy their formula. You need to find ways to make your own business unique and different.
2. You must quit your day job to focus on your startup
In a perfect world, you would be able to quit your 9-to-5 gig to focus solely on your idea. Alas, it’s not a perfect world and sometimes it’s just not possible to give up income and health benefits and a desk in the virtual office. Ultimately, quitting your job is a really big decision and potentially a big risk so don’t let others push into it until you’re ready. As one entrepreneur said in Forbes magazine, “Succeeding in business takes a delicate balance of guts and patience, so don’t let anyone else set the pace for you.”
3. Write a business plan.
A business plan is just that: a plan. It’s a plan for what will happen if everything goes according to, well, plan. But that doesn’t really ever happen, does it? Rather than investing time and effort in a lengthy, highly detailed business plan that includes lots of best guesses, develop a business model. Shorter, less rigid and easier to digest, business models give a quick overview of what you’re trying to do and it’s is much easier to update when things change. There’s not as much, if any, financial information in a business model. It basically identifies the problem/need you hope to fill with your company and the step you’ll take to get there.
4. You must have a patent.
While investors love patents, they’re not 100 percent necessary in all cases. According to Rob Strandberg, President and CEO of Enterprise Development Corporation, patents are often very expensive and may not result in a stronger market position. In a blog on entrepreneur.com, Strandberg recommends discussing your unique idea with an intellectual property attorney before formally pursuing a patent.
5. You must have a brick and mortar location.
Without a physical location, you’ll never get off the ground, right? Sure, if you’re manufacturing widgets or operating a restaurant, that’s probably true (though the food truck revolution is definitely helping restaurant entrepreneurs get started without the heavy investment in brick & mortar). But many entrepreneurs today have successfully launched profitable businesses from the comfort of their own homes. Need meeting space? Rent a virtual office. Want a receptionist to take your calls? Look into virtual offices and/or assistants. Want to give an impressive presentation to potential investors? The virtual office is the way to go. Needless to say, there are plenty of ways to establish your presence without signing a lease.
6. You should be cheaper than competitors.
On the surface, this seems like good advice. And in your specific case, a lower price may be the key to your success. But make sure you’ve fully examined the situation before setting prices. Start out too low and you could lose money. It’s nearly impossible to increase prices after product launch and maintain customers. Too high and another company could come along and undercut your prices. Instead of worrying about being cheaper than everyone else, set a fair price, offer impeccable customer service and make certain your product or service is of superior quality. It will take you farther than simply being cheaper.
Not all advice is welcomed or even correct for that matter. Entrepreneurs need to examine their own unique situations before heeding the words of a well-meaning advisor.
Photo from Shutterstock.