Let’s Get Real: Startup "Truths" Re-Examined

More and more startups seem to be appearing each and every day, and only a very small percentage of those hit the big time and make millions. However, it seems like 100 percent of the articles written about startups focus on these ‘exception-to-the-rule’ crazy success stories.

So, I thought I’d be a little different. The sad truth is that a lot of startups struggle and ultimately fail, and it appears that one of the main reasons for this is that a lot of so called ‘truths’ about startups are actually myths.

In this article, I’m going to re-examine five common startup ‘truths’ that aren’t actually true at all.

Related Article: 8 Essential Oversights That Startups Often Commit

1. You Have to Be a Tech Genius

The so called ‘truth’…

Most, if not all, startups these days will be online only. It’s the most cost-efficient way to reach as wide an audience as possible. So it can be very easy to believe someone when they tell you that you need to be tech savvy, particularly when it comes to tasks like coding.

The actual truth…

Non-technical founders do exist, they just have to work a little harder than the others. If you have a solid idea that you’re really passionate about, then with a little grit and a lot of determination, you can start a business. Whether you are a tech genius, or you aren’t.

The non-technical founder of WeddingLovely, Tracy Osborn, taught herself to code and launched her first web app in just six weeks. So it can be done.

Today, it is a lot easier to teach yourself the basic techy skills needed to get your project up and running. However, there are also other ways. For example, you could look for a technical co-founder to help you out.

The bottom line…

Tech helps, but it isn’t necessary. If you think you’d benefit from a technical co-founder make sure you find the ideal partner to work with.

2. Social Media Marketing Is Enough

The so called ‘truth’…

Who needs to pay for marketing when we can market on social media for free?

Everyone who’s anyone is on social media, including your competitors, so it makes sense to have a big presence across the social networks. By focusing all of your marketing efforts towards social media, you will build a huge fan-base and generate masses of awareness for your brand.

The actual truth…

While social media marketing is a great way to connect with customers, it definitely shouldn’t be the only place you focus your marketing efforts.

Different marketing techniques work for different companies, so it’s worth testing all of them in the beginning to see which can generate the most exposure for your startup. This includes:

  • PR
  • Content marketing
  • PPC ads
  • Billboards
  • And anything else you can think of

The bottom line…

Social media marketing is important, but it is nowhere near enough. You need to reach out to customers in as many places as possible, because although they may spend a lot of time on social media, they certainly don’t spend all of their time there.

3. You Can Fund Your Startup With Your Own Money

The so called ‘truth’…

The best way to fund your startup is by using your own money and the money of loved ones—people that know you personally and believe in your skills and idea. This way, you don’t have to give up any equity or control. The business will be yours alone.

The actual truth…

No matter how much money you or your family has tucked away, if you want your business to grow then there will come a time when you’ll need to rely on outside support.

Even the most successful startups need backing from outside investors. Take Fed Ex as an example: The founder, Frederick W. Smith, used his own personal fortune of $4 million, and even raised a further $90 million on top of that, and the business still came very close to bankruptcy in its early years. The only way Smith could bring the company back was by pitching to countless investors until he finally raised the $11 million needed to keep the company afloat.

The bottom line…

Putting a large majority of your own money into your startup is important, as it shows bankers and investors how much faith you have in your business. And ultimately, there will come a time when you’ll need help from outside sources like these.

Related Article: Why It’s So Hard to Succeed With Friend or Family Loans

4. Location Matters

The so called ‘truth’…

You can only reach success if you find an office in the ‘right’ place. If you aren’t in or around Silicon Valley (or your industry’s equivalent) then you won’t be able to find the investors and talent you need to make sure your startup takes off.

The actual truth…

More and more startups these days are actually location independent—or at least have the potential to be. Being in the centre of a city might feel like the best place to recruit people for your office, but you can find talented people everywhere. And, you may even find it easier to attract talented employees in your home town as opposed to a city where there’s more competition.

Plus, it’s likely that most of your business will be happening over the internet. So who cares if your office is in Silicon Valley or in your basement?

The bottom line…

Location might be an issue for a brick and mortar retail store, but not for an online startup business.

5. Build It and They Will Come

The so called ‘truth’…

You’ve probably heard this cliched phrase once or twice before. The idea is that once you have created and launched your product to the public, the hard work is over. You can sit down, pat yourself on the back and spend the rest of your days happily counting your profit.

The actual truth…

Unfortunately, building your business is only half the battle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible achievement to finally reach a point where you are ready to launch to the public. But the actual truth is, promotion is everything.

The story of Colonel Sanders is a great example of this. He built it and no one came. Instead, he spent years travelling from one restaurant to the next trying to sell his special recipe. Finally, at 75 years old, after visiting over one thousand restaurants, Sanders managed to sell his recipe for $15 million.

The bottom line…

Don’t expect people to find you, put your product out there and get as much exposure as possible.

One Final Word of Advice:

Unfortunately, there is no simple formula for success. Building a startup is a unique journey for each and every entrepreneur in the world. And when setting out on your journey, it’s important to remember that behind every success story you read is a lot of hard work, trial and error and mistakes.

Just do what’s best for you—oh, and don’t believe everything you read.

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