Four common start-up myths that could be holding you back

Myths prevail in every part of business, from customer service, to the technology we make and use. Myths are facts, statements and stories that we believe to be true, but aren’t. Start-up myths revolve around the little things we believe about growing a business and securing success.  

Unfortunately, unchecked, these start-up myths can be damaging to your chance of success. They hold you back from growing your business, and they may even contribute to start-up failure. 

Here, we explore the reality behind some of the most common start-up myths. Are any of these holding your growth back? 

1. You can’t compete with big companies 

The start-up myth goes that, if your business is like that of a big and well-established company, you can’t possibly hope to succeed. They’re better known and trusted by your customers and can ‘spend you out of business’ with big marketing campaigns.  

However, the reality is much more forgiving. While there is something to be said about being tried and tested as a business, that doesn’t mean all is lost.  

To compete with big businesses, don’t try to match them. Instead, provide value that they don’t. Offer a product, functionality or level of service that they can’t or won’t. This means you might serve a niche or two, instead of a more generalised audience.  

Or, perhaps you focus on making a key area of your service or product better than the main competitor. ‘Does it better’ doesn’t always beat ‘does it first’, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There’s no reason your business can’t exist alongside big names.  

2. It’s all about [X] 

This start-up myth comes in various flavours. The idea is that there’s one key part of your business that will determine your success. The jury is still out on what that one key element is, though. Perhaps the idea is the most important thing — after all, it needs to have value and solve a problem. Others believe that for a start-up to succeed, it’s all about landing one big customer that’ll make or break your business.  

In reality, there isn’t one magic ingredient to start-up success. A start-up can’t afford to rely on one aspect of their business and let the other things sort themselves out. Every part is important — your product, your service, your marketing and every single customer that walks through your door or lands on your site.  

Yes, it can be incredibly beneficial to land a ‘big’ customer, but that shouldn’t direct the growth of your business or your product. Similarly, having a great product that solves a distinct problem is, of course, extremely important. But it won’t matter how great it is if no one knows about it.  

It’s all about… finding the balance. 

3. You must be completely original and innovative 

This start-up myth is particularly prevalent in the tech industry, but is also relevant to any start-up in any sector. The idea is that, to succeed and grow, your product or idea needs to be innovative and original. It needs to be ‘never-before-seen’ and fundamentally change the way we all interact with the world around us.  

This myth is fuelled by the modern-day obsession with innovation. But you don’t need to be game-changing to succeed. You just need to provide value to your customers. That means you can do something that has been done before, if you do it (or a part of it) better. Being a successful start-up means identifying a problem and solving it. There’s nothing wrong with finding that problem within an existing solution.  

Your idea doesn’t have to be never before seen, you can succeed by solving an old problem with a new or better solution. 

4. If you build it, they will come 

This start-up myth suggests that if you make your product and build your business, the customers will come. (Even without market research, marketing or sales efforts.) It relates back to the ‘it’s all about [X]’ idea, because it’s placing all your eggs in your product’s basket.   

Unfortunately, building it doesn’t mean that customers want it. And if people don’t want your product, they won’t buy it. In fact, 42% of start-ups fail due to a lack of market need.  Plus, marketplaces are loud and busy places. Even if your product is a diamond in the rough, there’s no guarantee that people will find it without help from sales.  

Herein lies the importance of market research and building a customer base. It’s not enough to make a product, you need to be able to sell it, too. So, before diving in head first with the product, get an idea of the marketplace you’re entering. 

Sadly, the reality of this myth doesn’t have quite the same ring to it: If you research it, build it, and market it, they’re more likely to come. 

Start-up myths 

Growing a business from scratch is no small feat. As a result, there are many misconceptions, untruths and myths surrounding start-up success. Ultimately the answer lies in there not being a ‘quick win’ solution. There isn’t a single magic ingredient, there’s no panacea or perfect plan.  

The best advice is to be prepared, passionate and ready to persevere. Without these start-up myths holding you back, you might just have improved your chances. 

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