Common business myths like overnight success are a beautiful concept we've all dreamed of but the reality can trap business owners into a false sense of confidence and security.
Alexandra Levit explains that common business myths come about after a single success story being repeated over and over again, with plenty of exaggeration to make people think it’s a common situation.
It’s easy to see why – if something works for one person then people want to believe it can work for them too. But if it sounds to good to be true, the fact is it probably is.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common business myths around and what the real truth is behind them. Don't let these myths hold your business back.
MYTH 1: BUSINESSES CAN WRITE EVERYTHING OFF
Don’t be fooled into this one, it’s a bit of a misconception. Personal expenses definitely should not come under the same umbrella of your company.
Business costs should remain exactly that. Common business myths like being able to write everything off only lead to tighter purse strings further down the track.
But there are some business expenses which may be able to be deducted as long as it is directly related to the running of the business.
They could include costs such as car payments and gas - depending on how much the car is used for your business – rent, computer and business-related software or account management software.
It’s important to define all expenses in a business plan so you are clear on what business costs are involved to avoid any nasty tax surprises and a visit from Uncle Sam later on.
New York City-based CPA Philip C. Roventini told Entrepreneur a good way to identify business costs is to ask yourself this: “Is this an expense I would incur if I were not in business?”
MYTH 2: IF MY BUSINESS HAS A WEBSITE, THERE WILL BE TRAFFIC
Just because you have a website doesn't mean people will want to view it. Average, user-unfriendly, wordy and outdated websites won’t attract clicks and will turn people off. You only have a few seconds to convince people to stay and have a look around - so you need a website which will make an impact. First impressions last.
There are so many aspects and skills required to create a good quality site with high traffic. It takes time and research to come up with something SEO friendly and which incorporates your company’s social media strategy.
Search engines such as Google look for a variety of traits to determine the quality of content such as the length of the content, how accurate it is, images and video, how it’s being shared through social media and the number of inbound and outbound links.
Don't underestimate the value of images and photos either - statistics suggest Facebook posts with images get 53% more likes than other posts.
You need high quality content for a high quality website which gets plenty of traffic and sits at the top of the search engine rankings. A website may exist, but it doesn't mean people know about it, and want to visit it.
MYTH 3: WE DON'T NEED A MARKETING PLAN, THE PRODUCT SELLS ITSELF
Failing to plan is planning to fail. End of story. Don’t be naïve to think your product alone is enough to turn heads. You may have a great, high-quality product but if you don’t market it, no one will know it exists or feel the need to line up and buy it.
You need a plan for every aspect of your business and that must include a budget for marketing. California based entrepreneur Stephanie Chandler says marketing is an investment in your business – and if done right, it will pay itself back.
The problem with common business myths like this one is that people forget just how saturated markets are today with choices. Customers have a never-ending list of options on offer for nearly every aspect of their life.
Prioritize marketing so you can spread the word as far as possible and as often as possible, and make your product stand out from the rest.
MYTH 4: I CAN CHOOSE WHAT I WANT TO EARN
If you take all the money that’s coming in from your business, what’s left to pay your business expenses?
You’ll need to take into account things such as product sales, your costs, whether there are plans for expansion and of course leaving wiggle room if things start to go pear-shaped. Your income is not an unlimited pot of gold and you'll need to keep close tabs on all business income and expenditures.
Remember, employees will need to be paid first so the last person to be paid in any business is the owner. Owners should be prepared to not take any salary from their company for one to two years. If you take money straight out of your business, you may not have anything to fall back on.
MYTH 5: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
We've all heard it but quite frankly, the customer is often wrong. This myth is a result of people trying to please customers thinking it will retain their services. Some customers are more valuable – others are more trouble than they’re worth.
Not all customers and clients are created equally and at the end of the day, the business has to come first – there’s no point sacrificing valuable dollars for the sake of a grumpy customer who won’t offer as much in return.
Having said that, it’s important to still listen and empathize with customers and try and see the situation from their point of view. They’re still a customer and notice if they’re being treated fairly.
They still want to be listened to so it’s important to set their expectations from the start – strong relationships are built over a long period of time.
Don't be fooled by these common business myths and don't let them be a hindrance to your plans. Now that they've been debunked, you know the reality of running a business. Be realistic, research and plan well and you won't face nasty surprises later on.